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General Poker Rules

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GENERAL POKER RULES

These are general rules for all poker games. Be sure to check out the rules for individual games.

THE BUY-IN

  1. Upon entering a game, you have to pay the buy-in. For Limit poker, it is at least 10 times the maximum betting value for that game (unless another buy-in value is posted).
  2. Each session is limited to only one short buy-in.
  3. You can buy chips in any quantity to add to your stack between hands. This is not viewed as a buy-in.

THE SHUFFLE AND CUT

  1. In home games, the deck must be thoroughly shuffled and cut before the next hand is dealt. The best way to do this is to have three players active in shuffling: The old dealer gathers the cards and squares them, the person to the dealer’s left then shuffles the deck and hands them back to the dealer who then passes them back to the original dealer to cut the deck.
  2. The deck has to be riffled at least four times.
  3. Each portion of the cut must have at least four cards.
  4. In order to hide the bottom of the deck to prevent cards from being seen, a cut-card (such as the joker) must be used to cover it.
  5. If a player has an objection to how the deck was shuffled, cut, or dealt, they have to speak up before they’ve looked at their cards and before betting starts.

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MISDEALS

  1. A misdeal occurs under the following situations (as long as the error is pointed out before any betting starts if two players have already acted, the hand must be played (see rule #2 below)):
  2.         a. The dealer erred by dealing the first or second card face-up or allowed them to be exposed
            b. The dealer erred by exposing two or more cards
            c. Two or more boxed cards appear in the deck these are cards that are facing the wrong way and
            everybody can see them
            d. A starting hand has been dealt with two or more extra cards
            e. A player was dealt an incorrect number of cards
            f. A card was dealt out of sequence (an exposed card, however, may be exchanged by a burncard and
            the hand is no longer a misdeal)
            g. The dealer button was in front of the wrong player
            h. The dealer dealt the first card to the wrong player
            i. The dealer dealt cards to a person who is either absent or is not playing that hand
            j. The dealer failed to deal a hand to someone who was going to play that round

  3. A misdeal can no longer happen once the action has started. In Stud games, action starts once at least two players have acted after the forced bets. In button games, action starts once at least two players have acted after the blind bets. The hand is played to the end and players whose hands were fouled are not entitled to any money.

DEAD HANDS

  1. A hand is determined to be a dead hand due to the following:
  2.         a. The player folds
            b. A player throws their hand in front of them which makes another player act behind them (even if they
            didn’t have to bet yet)
            c. There isn’t the correct amount of cards for that particular game. This doesn’t apply to Stud poker if it’s
            only the last card that was omitted the hand can be ruled live, as it can in Lowball and Draw High if
            the missing cards are noticed before the draw.
            d. If you have a joker as a holecard in a game that isn’t using jokers, and you decide to act on the hand
            anyway
            e. The game has a time limit for how long you can take to act, and you go over the time limit

  3. Cards that have been mucked can be ruled dead. If it is evident that a hand can be retrieved from the muck and it maintains the integrity of the game, it can be ruled live. If a player folded due to incorrect information that was given to them, a greater effort at saving the hand should be attempted.
  4. A hand that have been mixed with another player’s hand (regardless if they’re face-up or face-down) is declared dead.

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IRREGULARITIES

  1. If a button was in front of the wrong person and somebody notices, every effort should be made to correct the problem so that everyone has a chance to play all of the positions, if at all possible.<
  2. It is the responsibility of every player to protect their hand from being accidentally mucked or fouled. You can cover them with your hands or place your chips or any other object on them to avoid this from happening. Should your hand become fouled because you didn’t protect them, there is nothing you can do.
  3. If a card appears in somebody’s hand with a different colored back than the rest of the cards, all action stops and the chips are given back to the person who bet them. If the unmatched card appears in the stub, the action continues.
  4. If two identical cards are found (same rank and suit), then the hand stops and the chips are returned to their bettors (contingent on the next rule).
  5. If a player knows there’s something wrong with the deck, they must bring this to everyone’s attention. If the same player decides instead to play with this knowledge, they may not be eligible for a refund (once the defect is noticed) and their chips may stay in the pot for the next hand.
  6. In the case where there is extra money in the pot because of money that was given up from the previous deal (see rule #5 above) or a comparable event -- only players who were dealt a hand in the previous deal may play the current hand.
  7. Boxed cards found in the deck are simply replaced by the next card unless a player has already been dealt that card facedown and combined with other downcards. When that happens, the boxed card is exchanged after the rest of that round’s cards have been dealt.
  8. A joker found in the deck before anybody acts on their hand is simply exchanged for another card, as in rule #7. If the player fails to mention they have a joker in their hand and act, their hand is declared dead.
  9. You’re liable for all of the cards in your hand, so make sure you count that you have the correct number of cards (and no jokers) as your hand will be declared dead if it doesn’t.
  10. If one or more cards are found to be missing from the deck, the hands are not fouled.
  11. If the dealer deals an extra card and it’s noticed before the first betting interval, it is returned to the deck and treated like a burncard.
  12. How to handle an exposed card is different from game to game. If the dealer flashes the card, it’s handled like an exposed card. If a player does this, they have to keep the card. If a player thinks a card has been exposed, and they want a formal decision if it can be kept, they must mention it was flashed or exposed before looking at it. Any downcard that was dealt off of the table is treated like an exposed card.
  13. Individual game rules dictate whether a card that was exposed due to dealer error may be played; it’s not up to the player to decide if they want to keep it.
  14. You have to play any cards you drop to the floor.
  15. If the dealer deals cards too soon before the betting interval is over, the cards are still played (even if a player who hasn’t acted yet wants to fold).

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BETTING AND RAISING

  1. With the exception of some forms of Lowball, check-raising is allowed in all games.
  2. Unlimited raising is allowed in No-Limit and Pot-Limit games.
  3. Limit poker games have a maximum of a bet and three raises as long as there are three or more players (who aren’t all-in) vying for the pot.
  4. When only two players are active, unlimited raising in money games is permitted. This is only allowed when the action came down to two people before the maximum number of raises was met (capped). Once the raises have been capped, they can’t be uncapped because a third player folded and left two players in the game. In tournaments, the 3-raise cap is in effect even when there are only two players left.
  5. In Limit games, if a player has an all-in bet of less than half the bet, this does not reopen the betting for players who have already acted and are in the pot for all prior bets. A player facing half a bet can fold, call or complete the bet. A player’s wager, who is all-in with a half bet or more, is treated like a full wager and they may fold, call or make a full raise.
  6. Except when a player goes all-in, any bets must be at least the size of the previous bet or raise in that betting interval.
  7. The value of the smallest chip must be the value of the ante or small blind used in a game. Chips smaller than this value do not play equally, so if that’s all a player has, they must exchange them for the value of the ante or small blind. When playing in dollar units, fractions of dollars are not acceptable. A player going all-in must put all of their chips in the pot.
  8. Any verbal declaration about what action you’re going to take is binding, such as saying you are going to either fold, check, bet, call or raise. You must do the action you stated.
  9. Knocking on the table when it’s your turn indicates a pass.
  10. Acting out of turn on purpose is not acceptable. A player who checks when it isn’t their turn is not allowed to bet or raise when it’s their next turn to act. A verbal declaration that is made out of turn may be binding if no players before their turn acts, bets, calls or raises.
  11. To maintain the right to act, a player may halt the action by announcing ‘time’ (or something that means the same thing). If you don’t halt the action before three or more players have acted behind you, you may lose your right to act. You can not give up your right to act if a player in front of you has not yet acted only if you don’t act when it’s your turn.
  12. A player who bets or calls by putting chips in the pot is obliged to play that action, except if they didn’t know the pot had been raised. In that case, they can remove their chips and ponder their next move (as long as no one has acted after them yet).
  13. In Limit poker, you make a forward move toward the pot with your chips and this makes another player act, you might be obliged to play your action.
  14. String raises are not permitted. Be clear about your intention to raise right away and/or put in the amount of chips you want to bet and raise into the pot to avoid being charged with a string raise.
  15. If you put a chip in the pot that’s worth more than the current bet and don’t announce that you’ve raised and put more money in the pot, the move is considered a call. For example, in a $2-$4 game, if a player says nothing after putting in a $10 chip for a $2 bet, their $10 chip is regarded as a $2 chip used to match the bet.
  16. Any bets and calls that were not the full amount of the current bet must be brought up to the correct amount if the mistake was noticed before the betting round ended.

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THE SHOWDOWN

  1. If a player wants to claim the pot, they must show all of their cards in their hand face-up on the table for everyone to see.
  2. Cards speak. The dealer helps to read the hands, but each player must retain their cards until the winner is announced. While verbal announcements about one’s hand is not binding, making false statements on purpose with the hopes of getting players with stronger hands to fold is unethical and may result in losing one’s claim to the pot.
  3. Any player who notices an error in the number of chips in the pot, or a pot being given to the wrong player, should bring this to everyone’s attention immediately it’s an ethical obligation to do so.
  4. The dealer must declare all losing hands dead before awarding the pot.
  5. Any player who participated in a hand can ask to see an opponent’s hand if they called even if it is already in the muck.  If this privilege is abused, a player may lose the right to do it. If a losing player asks to see a mucked hand, the hand is dead. If a winning player asks to see somebody else’s mucked hand, both that hand and the winner’s hand are declared live and the strongest hand wins.
  6. During the deal or after, if you expose your cards to another player, any other player may ask to see your cards.
  7. If everyone checks in a round (or they’re all-in), the player who acted first shows their hand first, too. If there was betting in the final betting round, the player who acted most aggressively shows their hand first. To keep the game moving quickly, the player who is suspected of having the strongest hand should show their cards first. Any players vying for a side pot should show their hands before any player who is all-in for the main pot.

TIES

  1. Suit ranking in order from highest to lowest is: spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs. Suits are not used to break ties, except in Stud when there is a tie between cards of the same rank.
  2. Dealing a card to every player can be implemented to determine many things, such as which player must move to a different table. The cards are dealt in a clockwise direction beginning with the player to the dealer’s left.
  3. An odd chip is reduced to the smallest value/unit in the game.
  4. Players may not receive more than one odd chip per pot.
  5. If two or more hands tie, the odd chip is assigned as follows:
  6.         a. In button games, the first hand clockwise from the button get the chip
            b. In Stud games, the highest card by suit in games played for high and the lowest card by suit in games
            played for low gets the chip. (All cards are used when having to make this ruling not just their 5-card
            hand.)
            c. In High-Low Split games, the player with the high hand gets the chip and not the player with the low
            hand. If two or more players are tied for the High hand, it is awarded the same as in high games.
            Likewise, if two or more players are tied for the low hand, it is awarded the same way as ties for low
            hands
            d. Side pots and the main pot are split as two separate pots and are not mixed.

These rules were adapted from Bob Ciaffone’s Robert’s Rules of Poker.

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