General Rules of Poker (Official)
Here we list the official rules of poker. Whilst you may see slight variations of these from card room to card room, these generic rules generally hold up in most legitimate card rooms across the world. Familiarizing yourself with the rules of play is essential to be able to defend the correct play where play is called into question.
1. When you enter a game, you must make a full buy-in for that particular game. A full buy-in in a limit game is at least ten times the maximum bet for the game being played, unless it is designated otherwise. A full buy-in at pot-limit or no-limit poker is 40 times the minimum bring-in (usually, the size of the big blind), unless designated otherwise.
2. Only one short buy-in is allowed per session.
3. In cash poker games, the rules state that adding to your stack is not considered a buy-in, and may be done in any quantity between hands.
The Shuffle & Cut
1. In a player-dealt game, the pack must be shuffled and cut before the cards are dealt. The recommended method to protect the integrity of the game is to have three people involved instead of only two. The dealer on the previous hand takes in the discards and squares up the deck prior to the shuffle. The player on the new dealer's left shuffles the cards and then slides the pack to the new dealer, who gets them cut by the player on his right.
2. The deck must be riffled a minimum of four times. The cut must leave a minimum of four cards in each portion.
3. The bottom of the deck should be protected so nobody can see the bottom card. This is done by using a cut-card. A joker can be used as a cut-card.
4. Any complaint about the shuffle, cut, or other preparation connected with dealing must be made before the player has looked at his hand or betting action has started.
1. The following circumstances cause a misdeal, provided attention is called to the error before two players have acted on their hands. (If two players have acted in turn, the deal must be played to conclusion, as explained in rule #2)
- The first or second card of the hand has been dealt face up or exposed through dealer error.
- Two or more cards have been exposed by the dealer.
- Two or more boxed cards (improperly faced cards) are found.
- Two or more extra cards have been dealt in the starting hands of a game.
- An incorrect number of cards has been dealt to a player, except the top card may be dealt if it goes to the player in proper sequence.
- Any card has been dealt out of the proper sequence (except an exposed card may be replaced by the burn card without such action causing a misdeal).
- The button was out of position.
- The first card was dealt to the wrong position.
- Cards have been dealt to an empty seat or a player not entitled to a hand.
2. Action is considered to occur in stud games when two players after the forced bet have acted on their hands. In button games, action is considered to occur when two players after the blinds have acted on their hands. Once action occurs, a misdeal can no longer be declared. The hand is played to conclusion and no money is returned to any player whose hand is fouled.
1. Your hand is declared dead if:
- You throw your hand away in a forward motion causing another player to act behind you (even if not facing a bet).
- In stud, when facing a bet, you pick your up cards off the table, turn your up cards face down, or mix your up cards and down cards together.
- The hand does not contain the proper number of cards for that poker form (except at stud a hand missing the final card may be ruled live, and at lowball and draw high a hand with too few cards before the draw is live). [See Section 16 - "Explanations," discussion #4, for more information on the stud portion of this rule.]
- You act on a hand with a joker as a hole card in a game not using a joker. (A player who acts on a hand without looking at a card assumes the liability of finding an improper card, as given in Irregularities, rule #8.)
- You have the clock on you when facing a bet or raise and exceed the specified time limit.
2. Cards thrown into the muck may be ruled dead. However, a hand that is clearly identifiable may be retrieved if doing so is in the best interest of the game. An extra effort should be made to rule a hand retrievable if it was folded as a result of false information given to the player.
3. Cards thrown into another player's hand are dead, whether they are face up or face down.
1. In button games, if it is discovered that the button was placed incorrectly on the previous hand, the button and blinds are corrected for the new hand in a manner that gives every player one chance for each position on the round (if possible).
2. You must protect your own hand at all times. Your cards can be protected with your hands, a chip, or other object placed on top of them. If you fail to protect your hand, you have no redress if it becomes fouled or the dealer accidentally kills it.
3. If a card with a different color back appears during a hand, all action is void and all chips in the pot are returned to the respective bettors. If a card with a different color back is discovered in the stub, all action stands.
4. If two cards of the same rank and suit are found, all action is void, and all chips in the pot are returned to the players who wagered them (subject to next rule).
5. A player who knows the deck is defective has an obligation to point this out. If such a player instead tries to win a pot by taking aggressive action (trying for a freeroll), the player may lose the right to a refund, and the chips may be required to stay in the pot for the next deal.
6. If there is extra money in the pot on a deal as a result of forfeited money from the previous deal (as per rule #5), or some similar reason, only a player dealt in on the previous deal is entitled to a hand.
7. A card discovered face up in the deck (boxed card) is treated if it were a meaningless scrap
of paper. A card being treated as a scrap of paper will be replaced by the next card below it in the
deck, except when the next card has already been dealt face down to another player and mixed in with
other down cards In that case, the card that was face up in the deck is replaced after all other
cards are dealt for that round.
8. A joker that appears in a game in which it is not used is treated as a scrap of paper. Discovery of a joker does not cause a misdeal. If the joker is discovered before a player acts on his or her hand, it is replaced as in the previous rule. If the player does not call attention to the joker before acting, then the player has a dead hand.
9. If you play a hand without looking at all of your cards, you assume the liability of having an irregular card or an improper joker.
10. One or more cards missing from the deck does not invalidate the results of a hand.
11. Before the first round of betting, if a dealer deals one additional card, it is returned to the deck and used as the burn card.
12. Procedure for an exposed card varies with the poker form, and is given in the section for each game. A card that is flashed by a dealer is treated as an exposed card. A card that is flashed by a player plays. To obtain a ruling on whether a card was exposed and should be replaced, a player should announce that the card was flashed or exposed before looking at it. A down card dealt off the table is considered an exposed card.
13. If a card is exposed due to dealer error, a player does not have an option to take or reject the card. The situation is governed by the rules for the particular game being played.
14. If you drop any cards out of your hand onto the floor, you must still play them.
15. If the dealer prematurely deals any cards before the betting is complete, those cards do play, even if a player who has not acted decides to fold.
Betting and Raising
1. Check-raise is permitted in all games, except in certain forms of lowball.
2. In no-limit and pot-limit games, unlimited raising is allowed.
3. In limit poker, for a pot involving three or more players who are not all-in, there is a maximum of a bet and three raises allowed.
4. Unlimited raising for money games is allowed in heads up. This applies any time the action becomes heads-up before the raising has been capped. Once the raising is capped on a betting round, it cannot be uncapped by a subsequent fold that leaves two players heads-up. For tournament play, the three raise maximum for limit poker applies when heads-up as well.
5. In limit play, an all-in wager of less than half a bet does not reopen the betting for any player who has already acted and is in the pot for all previous bets. A player facing less than half a bet can fold, call, or complete the wager. An all-in wager of a half a bet or more is treated as a full bet, and a player may fold, call, or make a full raise. (An example of a full raise is on a $20 betting round, raising a $15 all-in bet to $35).
6. Any wager must be at least the size of the previous bet or raise in that round, unless a player is going all-in.
7. The smallest chip that can be wagered in a game is the smallest chip used in the antes or blinds. Smaller chips than this do not play even in quantity, so a player wanting action on such chips must change them up between deals. If betting is in dollar units or greater, a fraction of a dollar does not play. A player going all-in must put all chips that play into the pot.
8. A verbal statement in turn denotes your action and is binding. If in turn you verbally declare a fold, check, bet, call, or raise, you are forced to take that action.
9. Rapping the table in turn with your hand is a pass.
10. Deliberately acting out of turn is not tolerated. A player who checks out of turn may not bet or raise on the next turn to act. An action or verbal declaration out of turn may be ruled binding if there is no bet, call, or raise by an intervening player acting after the infraction has been committed.
11. To retain the right to act, a player must stop the action by announcing "time" (or an equivalent word). Failure to stop the action before three or more players have acted behind you may cause you to lose the right to act. You cannot forfeit your right to act if any player in front of you has not acted, only if you fail to act when it legally becomes your turn. Therefore, if you wait for someone whose turn comes before you, and three or more players act behind you, this still does not hinder your right to act.
12. A player who bets or calls by releasing chips into the pot is bound by that action. However, if you are unaware that the pot has been raised, you may withdraw that money and reconsider your action, provided that no one else has acted after you.
13. In limit poker, if you make a forward motion into the pot area with chips and thus cause another player to act, you may be forced to complete your action.
14. String raises are not allowed. To protect your right to raise, you should either declare your intention verbally or place the proper amount of chips into the pot. Putting a full bet plus a half-bet or more into the pot is considered to be the same as announcing a raise, and the raise must be completed. (This does not apply in the use of a single chip of greater value.)
15. If you put a single chip in the pot that is larger than the bet, but do not announce a raise, you are assumed to have only called. Example: In a $3-$6 game, when a player bets $6 and the next player puts a $25 chip in the pot without saying anything, that player has merely called the $6 bet.
16. All wagers and calls of an improperly low amount must be brought up to proper size if the
error is discovered before the betting round has been completed. This includes actions such as
betting a lower amount than the minimum bring-in (other than going all-in) and betting the lower
limit on an upper limit betting round. If a wager is supposed to be made in a rounded off amount,
is not, and must be corrected, it shall be changed to the proper amount nearest in size. No one who
has acted can change a call to a raise because the wager size has been changed.
1. At Showdown, a player must show all cards in the hand face-up on the table to win any part of the pot.
2. Cards speak (cards read for themselves). The dealer assists in reading hands, but players are responsible for holding onto their cards until the winner is declared. Although verbal declarations as to the contents of a hand are not binding, deliberately miscalling a hand with the intent of causing another player to discard a winning hand is unethical and may result in forfeiture of the pot. (For more information on miscalling a hand see "Section 11 - Lowball," Rule 15 and Rule 16.)
3. Anyone who sees an incorrect amount of chips put into the pot, or an error about to be made in awarding a pot, has an ethical obligation to point out the error.
4. All losing hands must be killed by the dealer before a pot is awarded.
5. Any player who has been dealt in can request to see any hand that has been called, even if the opponent's hand or the winning hand has been mucked. However, this is a privilege that can be revoked if abused. If a player other than the pot winner asks to see a hand that has been folded, that hand is dead. If the winning player asks to see a losing player's hand, both hands are live, and the best hand wins.
6. If you show cards to another player during or after a deal, any player at the table has the right to see those exposed cards. Cards shown during a deal to a player not in the pot should only be shown to all players when the deal is finished.
7. If everyone checks (or is all-in) on the final betting round, the player who acted first is the first to show the hand. If there is wagering on the final betting round, the last player to take aggressive action by a bet or raise is the first to show the hand. In order to speed up the game, a player holding a probable winner is encouraged to show the hand without delay. If there is a side pot, players involved in the side pot should show their hands before anyone who is all-in for only the main pot.
1. The ranking of suits from highest to lowest is spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs. Suits never break a tie for winning a pot. Suits are used only in stud and then only to break a tie between cards of the same rank (no re deal or redraw). Note that most poker games such as Holdem and Omaha, do not use any ranking of suits in favor of split pots.
2. Dealing a card to each player is used to determine things like who moves to another table. If the cards are dealt, the order is clockwise starting with the first player on the dealer's left (the button position is irrelevant). Drawing a card is used to determine things like who gets the button in a new game.
3. An odd chip is broken down to the smallest unit used in the game.
4. No player can receive more than one odd chip.
5. If two or more hands tie, an odd chip is awarded as follows:
- In a button game, the first hand clockwise from the button gets the odd chip.
- In a stud game, the odd chip is given to the highest card by suit in all high games, and to the lowest card by suit in all low games. (When making this determination, all cards are used, not just the five cards that constitute the player's hand.)
- In high-low split games, the high hand receives the odd chip in a split between the high and the low hands. The odd chip between tied high hands is awarded as in a high game of that poker form, and the odd chip between tied low hands is awarded as in a low game of that poker form.
- All side pots and the main pot are split as separate pots, not mixed together.
**The rules above are from "Robert's Rules Of Poker" which is authored by Robert Ciaffone, better known in the poker world as Bob Ciaffone, a leading authority on card room rules.**
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