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Poker Rules

"Robert's Rules of Poker"

Chapter Sixteen

Explanations

EXPLANATIONS

Discuss Chapter Sixteen

  1. The only place in this set of rules that an alternative is mentioned other than in this section is in the method of button and blind placement. That rule (the first rule in "Section 4 -- Button and Blind Use") is repeated below for convenience.
    "Each round all players must get the button, and meet the total amount of the blind obligations. Either of the following methods of button and blind placement may be used:

    (a) Moving button -- The button always moves forward to the next player and the blinds adjust accordingly. There may be more than one big blind.

    (b) Dead button -- The big blind is posted by the player due for it, and the small blind and button are positioned accordingly, even if this means the small blind or the button is placed in front of an empty seat, giving the same player last action on consecutive hands."

    Poker tradition has a lot to do with the fact that both of these methods are in widespread use, but neither method is superior in all situations. The moving button makes sure no player gets the advantage of last action twice on a round (a big advantage at no-limit or pot-limit play). On the other hand, a player may get to post a blind when on the button, which is more advantageous than posting in front of the button. The moving button creates a situation where two big blinds may be posted on a deal, which speeds up the action. At tournament play this speed-up can be undesirable, as when dealing is being done hand-for-hand to balance the pace of play between two remaining tables. A cardroom may either decide for the sake of simplicity to use only one method, or decide to tailor the method to the game and situation.
  2. Most poker rule sets say you have a dead hand at the showdown if you do not have the proper number of cards for that game. At stud, this rule is too strict. An inexperienced player sometimes does not pay sufficient attention to the final card when holding a big hand like a flush or full house (where improvement is neither likely to happen nor be needed), and fails to protect that card. If the dealer erroneously puts that final card into the muck after the player fails to take it in, the rules should give the decision-maker an option to rule such a hand live. Rule 18 in "Section 8 -- Seven-card Stud" reads as below:
    "A hand with more than seven cards is dead. A hand with less than seven cards at the showdown is dead, except any player missing a seventh card may have the hand ruled live."
  3. This rulebook requires all cash to be changed into chips. In some cardrooms this can be a bit impractical for various reasons. If the cardroom chooses to allow cash, only $100 bills should be permitted.
  4. The rules given for rectifying a holdem situation where the dealer has dealt the flop or another boardcard before all the betting action on a round are inferior, because the dealer is told to not burn a card on a redeal. Since the "no burn" rule is so common, there was no choice but to use it here. But at some point it would be better for poker if the rule were changed to always burning a card. Here are these rules (the third rule and fourth rule in "Section 5 -- Holdem").
    "If the cards are flopped before the betting is complete, or if the flop contains too many cards, the boardcards are mixed with the remainder of the deck. The burncard remains on the table. After shuffling, the dealer cuts the deck and deals a new flop without burning a card."
    "If the dealer turns the fourth card on the board before the betting round is complete, the card is taken out of play for that round, even if subsequent players elect to fold. The betting is then completed. The dealer burns and turns what would have been the fifth card in the fourth card's place. After this round of betting, the dealer reshuffles the deck, including the card that was taken out of play, but not including the burncards or discards. The dealer then cuts the deck and turns up the final card without burning a card."
    The portion of this rule saying the dealer does not burn a card on the redeal is inferior. It is harder for the dealer to control the card to be dealt if a burn is required. The sentence in the rule should read, "The dealer then cuts the deck, burns a card, and turns the final card."

    The present method for handling a premature dealing on the turn is used to have what would have been the last board-card used on the turn, and not reshuffling the deck until just before the last card is dealt. This method has four-fifths of the boardcards remaining the same, albeit in a different order. It would be better to reshuffle before the turn, preserving the chance of receiving the prematurely dealt card on either of the last two cards, as opposed to cutting that chance in half. The superiority of reshuffling right away is illustrated if the prematurely dealt card makes a gutshot straight-flush for a player.
  5. Rule seven in "Section 4 -- Button and Blind Uses"
    "A new player cannot be dealt in between the big blind and the button. Blinds may not be made up between the big blind and the button. You must wait until the button passes."
    This rule is standard practice, but allowing a new player or player making up blinds to come in between the blinds is better (if dealers are trained how to handle the resulting situations), because it gets players eager to join or rejoin the game into action faster.
  6. Most poker rulebooks follow the usual California practice in multihanded pots at limit poker of allowing a bet and six raises for lowball and draw high. The number of allowable raises for those games is given in this rulebook as a bet and four raises because this cuts down on the effect of collusion between players, and more raises than four are hardly ever needed to define the strength of two hands when another player is calling.
  7. Lowball has historically had less stringent demands on the order of cards or acceptability of exposed cards than in most other poker forms. This rulebook follows the modern trend at lowball regarding misdeals of requiring the cards to be dealt facedown and in proper order.
  8. At ace-to-five limit lowball, an exposed card rule used less often, but probably a superior rule, is to not let a player take an exposed six or seven (the rule for no-limit ace-to-five lowball). If a player gets to keep only a card that might make a perfect hand, having a card exposed is less advantageous, and the opponent must consider the chance of a perfect hand.
  9. At lowball and draw high, some rule sets allow a player to draw five consecutive cards. The rule used here disallowing this makes cheating more difficult. Our rule #10 in lowball and rule #5 in draw high says,
    "A player may draw up to four consecutive cards. If a player wishes to draw five new cards, four are dealt right away, and the fifth card after everyone else has drawn cards. If the last player wishes to draw five new cards, four are dealt right away, and a card is burned before the player receives a fifth card."

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GLOSSARY

ACTION: A fold, check, call, bet, or raise. For certain situations, doing something formally connected with the game that conveys information about your hand may also be considered as having taken action. Examples would be showing your cards at the end of the hand, or indicating the number of cards you are taking at draw.

AGGRESSIVE ACTION: A wager that could enable a player to win a pot without a showdown; a bet or raise.

ALL-IN: When you have put all of your playable money and chips into the pot during the course of a hand, you are said to be all-in.

ANTE: A prescribed amount posted before the start of a hand by all players.

BET: The act of placing a wager in turn into the pot on any betting round, or the chips put into the pot.

BIG BLIND: The largest regular blind in a game.

BLIND: A required bet made before any cards are dealt.

BLIND GAME: A game which utilizes a blind.

BOARD: (1) The board on which a waiting list is kept for players wanting seats in specific games. (2) Cards faceup on the table common to each of the hands.

BOARDCARD: A community card in the center of the table, as in holdem or Omaha.

BOXED CARD: A card that appears faceup in the deck where all other cards are facedown.

BROKEN GAME: A game no longer in action.

BURNCARD: After the initial round of cards is dealt, the first card off the deck in each round that is placed under a chip in the pot, for security purposes. To do so is to burn the card; the card itself is called the burncard.

BUTTON: A player who is in the designated dealer position. See dealer button.

BUTTON GAMES: Games in which a dealer button is used.

BUY-IN: The minimum amount of money required to enter any game.

CALIFORNIA LOWBALL: Ace-to-five lowball with a joker.

CARDS SPEAK: The face value of a hand in a showdown is the true value of the hand, regardless of a verbal announcement.

CAPPED: Describes the situation in limit poker in which the maximum number of raises on the betting round have been reached.

CHECK: To waive the right to initiate the betting in a round, but to retain the right to act if another player initiates the betting.

CHECK-RAISE: To waive the right to bet until a bet has been made by an opponent, and then to increase the bet by at least an equal amount when it is your turn to act.

COLLECTION: The fee charged in a game (taken either out of the pot or from each player).

COLLECTION DROP: A fee charged for each hand dealt.

COLOR CHANGE: A request to change the chips from one denomination to another.

COMMON CARD: A card dealt faceup to be used by all players at the showdown in the games of stud poker whenever there are insufficient cards left in the deck to deal each player a card individually.

COMMUNITY CARDS: The cards dealt faceup in the center of the table that can be used by all players to form their best hand in the games of holdem and Omaha.

COMPLETE THE BET: To increase an all-in bet or forced bet to a full bet in limit poker.

CUT: To divide the deck into two sections in such a manner as to change the order of the cards.

CUT-CARD: Another term for the bottom card.

DEAD CARD: A card that is not legally playable.

DEAD COLLECTION BLIND: A fee posted by the player having the dealer button, used in some games as an alternative method of seat rental.

DEAD HAND: A hand that is not legally playable.

DEAD MONEY: Chips that are taken into the center of the pot because they are not considered part of a particular players bet.

DEAL: To give each player cards, or put cards on the board. As used in these rules, each deal refers to the entire process from the shuffling and dealing of cards until the pot is awarded to the winner.

DEALER BUTTON: A flat disk that indicates the player who would be in the dealing position for that hand (if there were not a house dealer). Normally just called the button.

DEAL OFF: To take all the blinds and the button before changing seats or leaving the table. That is, participate through all the blind positions and the dealer position.

DEAL TWICE: When there is no more betting, agreeing to have the rest of the cards to come determine only half the pot, removing those cards, and dealing again for the other half of the pot.

DECK: A set of playing-cards. In these games, the deck consists of either:

(1) 52 cards in seven-card stud, holdem, and Omaha.

(2) 53 cards (including the joker), often used in ace-to-five lowball and draw high.

DISCARD(S): In a draw game, to throw cards out of your hand to make room for replacements, or the card(s) thrown away; the muck.

DOWNCARDS: Cards that are dealt facedown in a stud game.

DRAW: (1) The poker form where players are given the opportunity to replace cards in the hand. In some places like California, the word draw is used referring to draw high, and draw low is called lowball. (2) The act of replacing cards in the hand. (3) The point in the deal where replacing is done is called the draw.

FACECARD: A king, queen, or jack.

FIXED LIMIT: In limit poker, any betting structure in which the amount of the bet on each particular round is pre-set.

FLASHED CARD: A card that is partially exposed.

FLOORPERSON: A casino employee who seats players and makes decisions.

FLOP: In holdem or Omaha, the three community cards that are turned simultaneously after the first round of betting is complete.

FLUSH: A poker hand consisting of five cards of the same suit.

FOLD: To throw a hand away and relinquish all interest in a pot.

FOURTH STREET: The second upcard in seven-card stud or the first boardcard after the flop in holdem (also called the turn card).

FOULED HAND: A dead hand.

FORCED BET: A required wager to start the action on the first betting round (the normal way action begins in a stud game).

FREEROLL: A chance to win something at no risk or cost.

FULL BUY: A buy-in of at least the minimum requirement of chips needed for a particular game.

FULL HOUSE: A hand consisting of three of a kind and a pair.

HAND: (1) All a players personal cards. (2) The five cards determining the poker ranking. (3) A single poker deal.

HEADS-UP PLAY: Only two players involved in play.

HOLECARDS: The cards dealt facedown to a player.

INSURANCE: A side agreement when someone is all-in for a player in a pot to put up money that guarantees a payoff of a set amount in case the opponent wins the pot.

JOKER: The joker is a partially wild card in high draw poker and ace-to-five lowball. In high, it is used for aces, straights, and flushes. In lowball, the joker is the lowest unmatched rank in a hand.

KANSAS CITY LOWBALL: A form of draw poker low also known as deuce-to-seven, in which the best hand is 7-5-4-3-2 and straights and flushes count against you.

KICKER: The highest unpaired card that helps determine the value of a five-card poker hand.

KILL (OR KILL BLIND): An oversize blind, usually twice the size of the big blind and doubling the limit. Sometimes a half-kill increasing the blind and limits by fifty percent is used. A kill can be either voluntary or mandatory. The most common requirements of a mandatory kill are for winning two pots in a row at lowball and other games, or for scooping a pot in high-low split.

KILL BUTTON: A button used in a lowball game to indicate a player who has won two pots in a row and is required to kill the pot.

KILL POT: A pot with a forced kill by the winner of the two previous pots, or the winner of an entire pot of sufficient size in a high-low split game. (Some pots can be voluntarily killed.)

LEG UP: Being in a situation equivalent to having won the previous pot, and thus liable to have to kill the following pot if you win the current pot.

LIVE BLIND: A blind bet giving a player the option of raising if no one else has raised.

LIST: The ordered roster of players waiting for a game.

LOCK-UP: A chip marker that holds a seat for a player.

LOWBALL: A draw game where the lowest hand wins.

LOWCARD: The lowest upcard at seven-card stud, which is required to bet.

MISCALL: An incorrect verbal declaration of the ranking of a hand.

MISDEAL: A mistake on the dealing of a hand which causes the cards to be reshuffled and a new hand to be dealt.

MISSED BLIND: A required bet that is not posted when it is your turn to do so.

MUCK: (1) The pile of discards gathered facedown in the center of the table by the dealer. (2) To discard a hand.

MUST-MOVE: In order to protect the main game, a situation where the players of a second game must move into the first game as openings occur.

NO-LIMIT: A betting structure where players are allowed to wager any or all of their chips in one bet.

OPENER: The player who made the first voluntary bet.

OPENER BUTTON: A button used to indicate who opened a particular pot in a draw game.

OPENERS: In jacks-or-better draw, the cards held by the player who opens the pot that show the hand qualifies to be opened. Example: You are first to bet and have a pair of kings; the kings are called your openers.

OPTION: The choice to raise a bet given to a player with a blind.

OVERBLIND: Also called oversize blind. A blind used in some pots that is bigger than the regular big blind, and usually increases the stakes proportionally.

PASS: (1) Decline to bet. In a pass-and-out game, this differs from a check, because a player who passes must fold. (2) Decline to call a wager, at which point you must discard your hand and have no further interest in the pot.

PAT: Not drawing any cards in a draw game.

PLAY BEHIND: Have chips in play that are not in front of you (allowed only when waiting for chips that are already purchased). This differs from table stakes.

PLAY THE BOARD: Using all five community cards for your hand in holdem.

PLAY OVER: To play in a seat when the occupant is absent.

PLAYOVER BOX: A clear plastic box used to cover and protect the chips of an absent player when someone plays over that seat.

POSITION: (1) The relation of a players seat to the blinds or the button. (2) The order of acting on a betting round or deal.

POT-LIMIT: The betting structure of a game in which you are allowed to bet up to the amount of the pot.

POTTING OUT: Agreeing with another player to take money out of a pot, often to buy food, cigarettes, or drinks, or to make side bets.

PROPOSITION BETS: Side bets between players that are not related to the outcome of the hand.

PROTECTED HAND: A hand of cards that the player is physically holding, or has topped with a chip or some other object to prevent a fouled hand.

PUSH: When a new dealer replaces an existing dealer at a particular table.

PUSHING BETS: The situation in which two or more players make an agreement to return bets to each other when one of them wins a pot in which the other or others play. Also called saving bets.

RACK: (1) A container in which chips are stored while being transported. (2) A tray in front of the dealer, used to hold chips and cards.

RAISE: To increase the amount of a previous wager. This increase must meet certain specifications, depending on the game, to reopen the betting and count toward a limit on the number of raises allowed.

RERAISE: To raise someones raise.

SAVING BETS: Same as pushing bets.

SCOOP: To win both the high and the low portions of a pot in a split-pot game.

SCRAMBLE: A facedown mixing of the cards.

SETUP: Two suited decks, each with different colored backs, to replace the current decks in a game.

SIDE POT: A separate pot formed when one or more players are all in.

SHORT BUY: A buy-in that is less than the required minimum buy-in.

SHOWDOWN: The final act of determining the winner of the pot after all betting has been completed.

SHUFFLE: The act of mixing the cards before a hand.

SMALL BLIND: In a game with multiple blind bets, the smallest blind.

SOFTPLAY: To show favoritism to a particular opponent by checking throughout a deal whenever heads-up. This refusal to bet with a good hand or bluff with a bad hand when facing a certain person, however motivated, is still improper poker behavior. Softplaying is actually a form of collusion, and may be penalized as such.

SPLIT POT: A pot that is divided among players, either because of a tie for the best hand or by agreement prior to the showdown.

SPLITTING BLINDS: When no one else has entered the pot, an agreement between the big blind and small blind to each take back their blind bets instead of playing the deal (chopping).

SPLITTING OPENERS: In high draw jacks-or-better poker, dividing openers in hopes of making a different type of hand. Example: You open the pot with a pair of aces. One of your aces is a spade, as are the three other cards in the hand. If you throw away the non-spade ace to go for the flush, you announce to the table, Splitting openers.

STACK: Chips in front of a player.

STRADDLE: An additional blind bet placed after the forced blinds, usually double the big blind in size or in lowball, a multiple blind game.

STRAIGHT: Five cards in consecutive rank.

STRAIGHT FLUSH: Five cards in consecutive rank of the same suit.

STREET: Cards dealt on a particular round in stud games. For instance, the fourth card in a players hand is often known as fourth street, the sixth card as sixth street, and so on.

STRING RAISE: A bet made in more than one motion, without the declaration of a raise (not allowed).

STUB: The portion of the deck which has not been dealt.

SUPERVISOR: A cardroom employee qualified to make rulings, such as a floorperson, shift supervisor, or the cardroom manager.

TABLE STAKES: (1) The amount of money you have on the table. This is the maximum amount that you can lose or that anyone can win from you on any one hand. (2) The requirement that players can wager only the money in front of them at the start of a hand, and can only buy more chips between hands.

TIME: An expression used to stop the action on a hand. Equivalent to Hold it.

TIME COLLECTION: A fee for a seat rental, paid in advance.

TOURNAMENT: A poker competition, normally with an entry fee and prizes.

TURNCARD: The fourth street card in hold'em or Omaha.

UPCARDS: Cards that are dealt faceup for opponents to see in stud games.

WAGER: (1) To bet or raise. (2) The chips used for betting or raising.

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