While playing no limit Omaha we had a difference of opinion on the rules. The situation was:

  1. Player 1 showed 3 of a kind with their 2 selected hole cards
  2. Player 2 showed 2 pair with their 2 selected hole cards
  3. Unrelated player asked to see player 2’s mucked cards
  4. Unrelated player noticed player 2 had a straight if they used mucked cards
  5. The house said the “cards call themselves” and player 1 lost because player 2 had not technically moved the 2 unused (mucked) hole cards into muck pile

The question is are mucked cards in Omaha showdown live or dead. Once a player selects the 2 cards they want to play in the showdown, are the mucked cards still in play? In other words are you supposed to flip over all 4 cards and let the cards call themselves, or if a player picks a losing hand and shows only 2 cards are the 2 down cards still live?

2 Answers 2


I am guessing you have a home game here, but I am going to answer with typical card room rule.

Once a player selects the 2 cards they want to play in the showdown, are the mucked cards still in play?

A player needs four cards tabled (IE Turned face up) to have a claim on any part of the pot. In a casino if you turned up two cards and mucked the other two your hand is dead, and you have no claim to the pot in whole or part, you have folded. Of course in a home game rather or not this hand can claim the pot by showing two cards and mucking the other two is up to the person running the game, but it should be a rule players understand before the question comes up at a showdown.

This table your whole hand is common for all poker variants played in a B&M poker room. Floor people may make some exceptions depending on the circumstances. However, to depend on a floor ruling to protect you when you do not table your hand is a fools errand.

The motivation for having such a rule is not to insure the best hand wins, it is all about preventing cheating, which trumps most other considerations. It is just to easy for a cheating player to move cards in and out of the game when they can send part of their live hand face down into the muck.

I would suggest to you that you could solve your problem here by using the common rules that calls for player to table the hand, in Omaha that means 4 cards face up to have a claim on the pot at showdown.

  • Thanks! I’ve played lots of hold ‘em at casinos but never played Omaha so I wasn’t sure what the nuances of the rules were. Great answer!
    – texwes
    Jun 4, 2021 at 23:02

In a casino setting, a hand has not been shown until all cards are properly tabled. Once a player's complete hand is face-up on the table, yes, the dealer and other players may assist in reading the hand, and he is eligible to win the pot.

Any player not showing all his cards is legally the equivalent of showing none of them. The dealer may encourage the player to show his hand properly, but may otherwise not read the hand or push the pot, even if the partial hand would beat the fully shown hand. In have dealt in situations like this, where I would announce "best hand shown is XX...", then some player with a partially shown hand would say "but I have...", to which I just say "I have not seen your hand, sir, so I cannot evaluate it. If you choose not to show it, I will push the pot to the best hand shown." If that player had actually mucked his "extra" cards, he is not eligible to win.

The ONLY case in which a dealer can push a pot to a player who has not shown all his cards is when every other hand is in the muck.

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