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The debate on the origins of the games that preclude poker is still ongoing; the game of poker derives from the evolution of different games across different civilizations. There is some consensus around the French game “Poque”, which is said to have evolved from the German bluffing game called “Pochen”. “Poque” was eventually brought over to New Orleans and played on the riverboats that plied the Mississippi. From here, the game was refined further and became known as Poker.

Today, Poker is truly an international game, enjoyed in virtually every country where card games are played. There are hundreds of versions of Poker, and the game is played not only in private homes, but also in countless dedicated Poker rooms as well as many casinos. Poker can be played socially for penny stakes, or professionally for thousands of dollars.

1.1. Poker Videos

In the small collection of videos below you will be able to see the different features offered by IGT Poker across desktops and all mobile devices.

Video Title

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1.2 How to Play

“Poker is a strategy game which involves presence of mind and ability to make right decision.”

Basic poker strategy can easily be learned and applied. Poker is a game of your best five cards whatever version you play*

Poker is usually played with a standard 4-suit 52-card deck.

The suits are: hearts ♥, diamonds ♦, clubs ♣ & spades ♠.


The ace normally plays high, but can sometimes play low.

The best way for beginners to start understanding the game is to master Texas Hold’em. Over the past 10 years this has become the most popular form of poker in the world and this is the game that has been popularized by many different TV shows. This guide mainly covers Texas Hold’em, except where indicated.

The goal of each player is to win the pot which contains all the bets that the players have made in any one deal. A player makes a bet in hopes that he has the best hand, or to give the impression that he does. At showdown, the players still remaining compare their hands according to the hand rankings. Suits are not used to break ties, nor are any remaining cards used; only the best five cards in each hand* are used in the comparison. In the case of a tie, the pot is split equally amongst all the winning hands.

* Badugi (also known as badougi, paduki or padooki) is the only poker variant to use a 4 card hand. All other poker variants use a 5 cards hand.

1.2.1. Planning and Discipline

“What you do need to become a winning player are disclipline and a solid plan to learn the game.”

Plotting a strategy: If you aspire to play winning poker, then you need a plan to learn the game. You can find a slew of information to help you learn the game — in books, magazines, and online.

Discipline: All the strategic knowledge in the world does not guarantee success to any poker player. Players lacking self-discipline, for example, have a hard time winning consistently regardless of how strategically sophisticated they may be. If one lacks the discipline to consistently fold poor starting hands, then all the knowledge in the world can't overcome this flaw. Playing with discipline is key to becoming a winning player.

2.2. Hand Rankings

Ace is the high card in poker with the deuce being low. In poker, the suits have no ranking; they are all equal. In games where more than five cards are available to each player, the best five-card combination of those cards must be played. Any cards not included in the hand do not affect its ranking.

For example:

  • 4

  • 5

  • 6

  • 10

  • 7

The Five Cards available for both players
  • 3

  • A

Player B Hand

The players hold equally ranking 3-4-5-6-7 straights despite the fact that the player B's ace ranks higher than the player A's queen.

“The first step to mastering poker is to learn the hand rankings.”

These rankings remain the same for all forms of poker. Here are the hand rankings:

HIGH CARD Hand Example: K 10 7 5 2

A high-card is a poker hand such as K 10 9 7 2, made of any five cards not meeting any other hand ranking requirements.

Essentially, no hand is made, and the only thing of any potential meaning in the hand is the highest card.

Two high-card hands are ranked by comparing the highest-ranking card. If those are equal, then the next highest-ranking card from each hand is compared, and so on until a difference is found.


  • 2

  • 4

  • 9

  • 8

  • A

Player hand A
  • 3

  • 7

  • 9

  • J

  • K

Player hand B

In the event of two people both having nothing, the hand with the highest card will win. Therefore hand A (Ace high) beats hand B (King high).

Therefore hand A (Ace high) beats hand B (King high).

ONE PAIR Hand Example: 7 7 K 10 4

TWO PAIR Hand Example: K K 3 3 7

A poker hand such as K K 3 3 7, that contains two cards of the same rank, plus two cards of another rank (that match each other but not the first pair), plus any card not of either rank, is called two pair.

To rank two hands both containing two pair, the higher-ranking pair of each is first compared and the higher pair wins (so 9 9 7 7 5 defeats 8 8 5 5 10).

If both hands have the same top pair, then the second pair of each is compared, such that 10 10 7 7 5 defeats 10 10 5 5 7.

If both hands have the same two pairs, the kicker determines the winner, so 10 10 8 8 A beats 10 10 8 8 4.

Two pair are described by the higher pair first, followed by the lower pair if necessary; Q Q 8 8 5 is described as “Queens over eights”, “Queens and eights”, or simply “Queens up” if the eights are not important.

  • 6

  • 3

  • 3

  • K

  • K

Player hand A
  • A

  • Q

  • Q

  • J

  • J

Player hand B

Both hands above are two pair hands. It is the highest pair which is the deciding factor.

Therefore hand A (Pair of Kings, pair of Threes) beats hand B (pair of Queens, pair of Jacks).

THREE OF A KIND Hand Example: 3 3 3 K 6

Three of a kind, also called trips or a set, is a poker hand such as 3 3 3 K 6 that contains three cards of the same rank, plus two cards which are not of this rank nor the same as each other.

In Texas hold 'em and other flop games, three of a kind is called a “set” usually when it is composed of a pocket pair and one card of matching rank on the board; It is called “trips” usually when it is made by one card that player has in the hole with two matching cards on the board.

  • J

  • J

  • J

  • 7

  • 4

Player hand A
  • 9

  • 9

  • 9

  • A

  • K

Player hand B

A higher-valued three-of-a-kind defeats a lower-valued three-of-kind, so J J J 7 4 defeats 9 9 9 A K.

If two hands contain three of a kind of the same value, which is possible in games with wild cards or community cards, the kickers are compared to break the tie, so 5 5 5 9 2 defeats 5 5 5 8 7.

STRAIGHT Hand Example: Q J 10 9 8

A straight is a poker hand such as Q J 10 9 8, that contains five cards of sequential rank in at least two different suits.

Two straights are ranked by comparing the highest card of each.

Two straights with the same high card are of equal value, suits are not used to separate them.

Straights are described by their highest card, as in “ten-high straight” or “straight to the ten” for 10 9 8 7 6.

  • A

  • K

  • Q

  • J

  • 10

Player hand A
  • K

  • Q

  • J

  • 10

  • 9

Player hand B

A hand such as A K Q J 10 is an ace-high straight (also known as “Broadway” or “royal straight”), and ranks above a king-high straight such as K Q J 10 9.

The straight (along with the straight flush, which we will see later) is the only situation where an Ace can also be low (having a value of “1”); in a five-high straight such as 5 4 3 2 A, which is colloquially known as a “wheel”.

The ace may not “wrap around”, or play both high and low; 3 2 A K Q is not a straight.

FLUSH Hand Example: K 10 8 6 4

A flush is a poker hand such as K 10 8 6 4, where all five cards are of the same suit, but not in sequence.

Two flushes are compared as if they were high card hands; the highest-ranking card of each is compared to determine the winner. If both hands have the same highest card, then the second highest-ranking card is compared, and so on until a difference is found.

If the two flushes contain the same five ranks of cards, they are tied and split the pot, that is, suits are not used to rank them.

  • K

  • Q

  • 9

  • 5

  • 4

Player hand A
  • K

  • 10

  • 5

  • 3

  • 2

Player hand B

Flushes are described by their highest card, as in “king-high flush” to describe K 9 7 4 3.

If the rank of the second card is important, it can also be included: K 10 5 3 2 is a “king-ten-high flush” or just a “king-ten flush”, while K Q 9 5 4 is a “king-queen-high flush”.

In community card games the highest card in the flush may be a community card which is used by multiple players, in which case the flush may be described by the highest non-communal card; in a game with community cards A 10 6 2, a player holding Q J would have a “queen-high flush” while a player with K 10 holds a “king-high flush”; both players making use of the high ace.

FULL HOUSE Hand Example: 3 3 3 6 6

A full house, also known as a full boat, is a hand such as 3 3 3 6♣ 6, that contains three matching cards of one rank and two matching cards of another rank.

Between two full houses, the one with the higher-ranking three cards wins, so 7 7 7 4 4 defeats 6 6 6 A A.

  • 5

  • 5

  • 5

  • Q

  • Q

Player hand A
  • 5

  • 5

  • 5

  • J

  • J

Player hand B

If two hands have the same three cards (possible in wild card and community card games), the hand with the higher pair wins, so 5 5 5 Q Q defeats 5 5 5 J J.

FOUR OF A KIND Hand Example: 9 9 9 9 J

Four of a kind, also known as quads, is a poker hand such as 9 9 9 9 J, that contains all four cards of one rank and any other (unmatched) card. Quads with higher-ranking cards defeat lower-ranking ones.

In community-card games (such as Texas Hold 'em) or games with wildcards or multiple decks it is possible for two or more players to obtain the same quad;

  • 7

  • 7

  • 7

  • 7

  • J

Player hand A
  • 7

  • 7

  • 7

  • 7

  • 10

Player hand B

In this instance, the unmatched card acts as a kicker, so 7 7 7 7 J defeats 7 7 7 7 10.

If two hands have the same kicker, they tie and the pot is split.

STRAIGHT FLUSH Hand Example: Q J 10 9 8

A straight flush is a hand that contains five cards in sequence, all of the same suit, such as Q♣ J♣ 10♣ 9♣ 8♣ (a hand that meets the requirements of both a straight, and a flush).

  • Q

  • J

  • 10

  • 9

  • 8

Player hand A
  • 10

  • 9

  • 8

  • 7

  • 6

Player hand B

Two such hands are compared by their card that is ranked highest. Aces can play high or low in straights and straight flushes: 5 4 3 2 A is a 5-high straight flush.


An ace-high straight flush such as A K Q J 10 is known as a royal flush, and is the highest-ranking standard poker hand.

There are 4 different possibilities for a royal flush: one for each suit.

1.2.3. How to play Texas Hold'em

Texas Hold’em Poker is a community card game that can be played on a single table with any number of players between 2 and 10. A community card game is a game where all players share the same board cards (hence community).

To start the game, one randomly chosen player will act as the dealer. This position is called The Button and it rotates clockwise after every hand. The 2 players to the left of the dealer are called the Small Blind (SB) and the Big Blind (BB), respectively. The blinds are compulsory bets that have to be posted before any cards are dealt. These exist to create action and to build a pot, enticing players to enter pots. The BB is normally the minimum bet and the SB is normally half this amount.

  1. Every player sat at the table receives 2 cards dealt face down. These are called “hole cards” or “pocket cards”. Once all hole cards have been dealt, the first round of betting starts, with the player sitting immediately to the left of the BB. This player can fold (throw your cards away, ending your participation on that hand), call (match the BB amount) or raise (increase the bet amount by at least doubling the previous bet). Betting then continues clockwise, with each player having the option to fold, call the amount of the highest bet before them or raise.

  2. If no raises have been made, when the betting goes back to the BB, this player will have the option to check (doesn’t make a bet and we see the next cards) or raise. This is available because this player has not acted in the hand yet. This player can also fold, but this is not recommended because he can see the next three cards for free.

  3. When the first betting round is completed, three community cards are dealt face up on the table. This is called the flop.

  4. The second round of betting begins with the first remaining player seated to the left of the button. The betting resumes, clockwise, with each player having the option to check (if no bet was made in front of them), bet (or raise if a bet was made before them), call or fold.

  5. When the second round of betting is finished, a fourth community card is dealt face up on the table. This is called the turn.

  6. The third round of betting commences with the first remaining player sitting to the left of the button.

  7. When the third round of betting is over, a fifth community card is dealt face up on the table. This is called the river.

The fourth round of betting starts with the first remaining player seated to the left of the button. The betting continues to move clockwise; until all bets are called and we reached the showdown (all remaining players expose their hands in order to compare them to determine the winners).


2.1. Positions

Your position at the table is a major factor in determining the kinds of starting hands you should play before the flop. The later your position in the betting order, the better – because you get to decide what to do after most of your opponents have acted.

Don’t fall into the trap of playing any two cards. Always consider your position before contemplating whether to enter a pot. Your position should heavily influence the starting hands you play. Most poker players want to play hands and as a beginner it’s very easy to be seduced by suited cards or picture cards, or any two-card holding that contains an Ace of a King – but if you play Hold’em correctly, you’re going to be selective and throw away the vast majority of hands you’re dealt.

Here are the positions:


  1. SB (Small Blind)

  2. BB (Big Blind)

Early Positions:

  1. UTG

  2. UTG + 1

Middle Positions:

  1. MP1

  2. MP2

Late Positions:

  1. Hijack

  2. Cutoff

  3. Button

The basic idea is to choose different playing strategies when playing from the different positions; play only very strong hands from early position, good hands when in mid-position and play more hands from late position.

Your starting hands will fall into one of the following categories:

  1. Pairs (AA, 99, 22)

  2. Suited connectors (KQ, J10, 76)

  3. Connecting cards (QJ, 98, 45)

  4. Suited unconnected cards (KJ, 108, 96)

  5. Unconnected cards (Q10, 97, 74)

Premium hands:

Whilst there is some disagreement amongst poker strategists as to which starting hands are the best, few dispute the value of the first 3 main groups of starting hands:

  1. AA, KK, QQ, AKs, JJ

  2. TT, AK, AQs, AJs, KQs

  3. 99, A10s, KJs, QJs, J10s

2.2 Playing Styles

All styles can be winning styles; you should choose the style of play that is the most profitable for you and that suits your personality. Winning players always adjust their style to the players at the table and the changing conditions of the game. If the table is full of fish then you should tighten up, if the table is full of tight players, then you should “loosen up”. As Poker is a social game, you should choose the style you think will match your personality to allow you to have fun at the poker table.

Starting Hands Playing Styles:

  1. Tight vs Loose

    • Tight players usually play very few hands and only the hands that have a good chance of winning.
    • Loose players play a wide variety of starting hands, from good to weaker hands.
  2. Passive vs Aggressive

    • Aggressive players raise more than they call and are not afraid to lead the betting.
    • Passive players check and call more and rarely bet out or raise an opponent’s bet.

These are the main starting hands styles:

  1. Tight Passive

  2. Loose Passive

  3. Tight Aggressive (TAG)

  4. Loose Aggressive (LAG)

These are the most common playing styles:

  1. Calling Station/Fish - Player who consistently call bets, regardless of hand strength, hoping to hit another card to make their hand.

  2. Nit/Rock - The opposite of the above, players who play very few hands, they sit and wait to play only the best starting hands.

  3. Maniac - These players play most hands, raising and re-raising with any 2 cards.

  4. Shark - A very good player, proficient at every aspect of the game, who can adapt his playing style to all other player types.

2.3 Pre-Flop Strategy

To build the foundations for a profitable hand, you need to be making correct pre-flop strategy decisions. Choosing which hands to play and which hands to fold is fundamental to playing a winning poker game. The general principles of position will remain the same, as you want to try and play more hands where you have position over your opponents than in positions where you do not.

  1. Always be aware of your position in a hand; try to avoid playing out of position unless you have a strong starting hand

  2. You can afford to loosen up your starting hand requirements in later positions

  3. Don’t feel too committed to play hands when in the blinds

  4. Don’t be afraid to raise and make solid 3 or 4x BB raises when entering an un-opened pot

  5. Increase the size of your raise if other players have called or are calling stations

Avoid calling with weaker hands; only call if you have a potentially strong hand and others have called before you

2.4 Post-Flop Strategy

Position is paramount to your decisions. It's not all about aggression, but use position to determine your aggression level, knowing that there is no shame in folding. Try to avoid coin flips (50/50 situations).

How to play after you raised before the flop:

  1. Play strong with a top pair or better

  2. Don't play draws

  3. When to bluff - Continuation bets

How to play if you didn't raise before the flop:

  1. Play strong with two pair or better

  2. Don't play draws

  3. Don’t bluff

If you flop a very strong made hand (a monster) you have two clear tasks:

  1. Build a big pot for you to win at showdown

  2. Protect your hand against draws

2.5 Betting

Pot Odds

Pot odds are the ratio of the current size of the pot to the cost of the call you are facing. Pot odds are compared to the probability of winning the hand.

Value betting

The ability to determine the strength of your opponent’s hands, in order to evaluate how much your opponent is willing to pay and then making that bet, with a long term view to increase your profits.


Bluffing at the wrong time, or bluffing too much or not enough are the most common mistakes poker players make.

3. Game Types

3.1 Cash Games

Cash games, also sometimes referred to as ring games, are poker games played with "real money" chips (chips with an equivalent cash value) and money at stake, usually with no predetermined start or end time, with players able to enter and leave as they see fit. In contrast, a poker tournament is played with tournament chips worth nothing outside the tournament, with a definite end condition (usually, only one player left), and a specific roster of competitors.

Cash games have a number of advantages over tournaments. Players can freely buy into the game or cash out between hands (if you lose your stack you can simply buy more chips). If you do not like your table, you can just get up and look for another table more suitable for you. Blinds never change; it is up to the player to choose the blind level they are comfortable playing at. Cash games are, essentially, endless. Players arrive to the table, sit down when a seat is available, and play until they are ready to leave. Then other players might take their seat and the game continues as normal. 


3.2 Multi-Table tournaments (MTT's)

A "multi-table tournament" (or MTT as it is also called) is a tournament in which multiple tables of players play down to just one table, where a winner will eventually be crowned. Players at the different tables compete with each other for their chips, as the blinds and/or antes will regularly increase. In most multi-table tournaments, you are considered eliminated when you run out of chips. Some tournaments, however, will allow you to buy in more than once. Play continues, in most tournaments, until all but one player is eliminated, though in some tournament situations, especially informal ones, players have the option of ending by consensus.

The winner of a multi-table tournament is the person who has all of the chips in the end. The other places are determined based on order of elimination

Players are ranked in reverse chronological order — the last person in the game earns 1st place, the second-to-last earns 2nd, and so on. This ranking of players by elimination is unique amongst games, and also precludes the possibility of a tie for first place, since one player alone must have all the chips to end the tournament. (Ties are possible for all other places, though they are rare since the sole tiebreaker is the number of chips one has at the start of the hand in which one is eliminated, and hence two people would need to start a hand with exactly the same number of chips and both be eliminated on that same hand in order to tie with each other.)

Certain tournaments, known as bounty tournaments, place a bounty on some or all of the players. If a player knocks an opponent out, the player earns the opponent’s bounty. Individual bounties or total bounties collected by the end of a tournament may be used to award prizes. Bounties usually work in combination with a regular prize pool, where a small portion of each player’s buy-in goes towards his or her bounty.

Other tournaments allow players to exchange some or all of their chips in the middle of a tournament for prize money, giving the chips cash value. Separate portions of each player’s buy-in go towards a prize pool and a “cash out” pool. The cash out rate is typically fixed, and a time when players may not cash out (such as the final table) is usually established. The remaining cash out pool is either paid out to the remaining field or added to the regular prize pool.

One of the largest and most recognized multi-table tournaments in the world is the World Series of Poker main event. Thousands of people from all over the world put down $10,000 each year to try and win millions of dollars. Names such as Phil Hellmuth, Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson have all won the World Series of Poker main event. Last year’s winner was 24 year old Joe McKeehen, who defeated 6419 players to win $7,683,346.

3.3 Sit & Go's

Sit-and-Go’s (S&G or SNG) are tournaments do not have a scheduled start time. A sit and go begins as soon as there are enough people registered at a table. If the number of people required for the Sit-and-Go tournament to start is ten, then the tournament stars as soon as the tenth player joins.

A single-table sit and go tournament typically has six, nine or ten players. Sit and go tournaments have fixed payouts which are given to the top few finishers. Sit-and-Go tournaments are single-elimination or knockout tournaments where the loser of each match is immediately eliminated.

    SNGs are convenient and very popular amongst players for many reasons:
  • SNGs are perfect for players who are not able to play for many hours in a row, players don't have to commit to a long session, unlike multi-table tournaments (MTTs)
  • SNGs are also great for the novice players who are learning the fundamentals of the game.
  • They are available every hour of every day
  • There is typically a very short waiting time
  • There is more chance to win a return on your investment. The prize structure means that a third of players get paid, compared with the top 10 per cent typically paid in MTTs
  • The fixed buy-in allows players to know exactly how much they are investing from their bankroll

3.4 Poker Challenges - unique industry new game format

One issue with regular poker tournaments is that players can be eliminated at any point, and so they do not know how long they will be playing for. On the other hand, Cash games allow players to join / leave the game whenever they like; however in cash games players may lose their initial buy-in, therefore cash games can be difficult for new players to manage their spend. Additionally, in cash games players are betting ‘real-money’ in each hand rather than tournament chips, which players are often more comfortable playing with. To address many of these issues we created a new poker game format: “Poker Challenges”, which provides players with the opportunity to play for a known amount of time whilst knowing the maximum amount that they can lose.

Poker Challenges are a game format invented by IGT and not offered by anyone else! A Poker Challenge is a tournament that is played over a set duration (i.e. 25 hands or 10 minutes). There is no elimination so player knows how long they will be playing for. Players start each hand with same number of ‘chips’ i.e. 1,000 chips and have a running ‘Score’ based on their overall chips won / lost. At the end of the duration (i.e. 25 hands) prizes are paid to players according to their score. A fun, action packed game allowing players to know in advance of the tournament the exact time+money commitment involved.



4.1 Live Poker Rules and Exceptions - General

  1. Card Boxed in the Deck

    • If a boxed card (a card face up in the stub) is encountered at any time during a hand, the card is removed from the deck and shown to every player. The deal continues as if nothing went wrong.
    • If multiple cards are boxed, the dealer continues to remove the boxed cards until he reaches a facedown card to continue the deal.
    • If the stub runs short of non-boxed cards, the hand is declared dead, with all chips being returned to their original stacks as accurately as possible.
  2. Cards Dealt Before All Players Have Acted

    • If the dealer burns and turns fourth street while a player has yet to make their flop decision, the play is temporarily halted. The dealer takes the turn card and puts it back into the stub, shuffling the entire stub sufficiently.
    • Once the deck is shuffled, and the player has made his final flop action, the top card is turned over as the new turn (there has already been a card burned for this street).
  3. Card Exposed While Dealing

    • When dealing hole cards, if the first or second card you deal is exposed (the face value was seen by someone at the table), the hand is a misdeal, meaning the cards are reshuffled and the deal starts over (the dealer button stays in the same place).
    • If a card other than the first or second is exposed, the dealer continues to deal as if nothing had gone wrong. When the deal finishes, he give the top card on the deck to the player with the flashed card, and takes back the exposed card.
    • That card is then turned face up and shown to everyone at the table, and put on the top of the deck to be used as the first burn card.
    • If two cards are exposed while dealing, the hand is considered a misdeal.
  4. Card Marked

    • When noticing a single badly marked card in play, first play out the hand normally. When the hand is complete you'll want to replace that marked card with a new one of the same value, or just grab a new deck.
    • If you don't have a new deck and are stuck with the one you have, your best bet is to remove the card from the game, making sure everyone is aware that the card is no longer in play.
    • It's better for everyone to know that no one has the card than for everyone to know when someone does have the card.
  5. Dealer Deals an Extra Hand or a Hand to a Seat with No Player

    • In this scenario, as long as no one looks at the extra hand, it's folded as a dead hand, and play continues as usual.
  6. Turn-Dealing Mistakes

    • Turn is dealt without burning: When the dealer deals the turn card without burning, that card is simply treated as a flash card. The dealer makes sure all players see the card before turning it face down as the burn card, dealing the real turn as normal.
    • Two burn cards dealt when dealing the turn: In the case of a dealer burning two cards, and turning over a third as the turn, that third card is treated as a flashed card, and is returned to the top of the deck as the burn for the river. The second burn card is turned face up, since it is the valid turn card.
    • Two cards are burnt and two cards are shown when dealing the turn: The proper way to resolve this rare scenario is as follows. The second burn card (the official, should be turn) is placed face down on the top of the deck. The first up card (the would-be river burn card) is treated as a flash card and turned face down.
    • The second show card is the official river. It is now played as it lies on the turn instead. When action completes on the turn, the top card is turned over without burning for the river.
    • By doing it in this fashion, all cards put in play are the original cards that would have fallen if no mistake had occurred. There is no change to the results, and only one card gets exposed.
  7. Is a Single Over-Value Chip Considered a Raise or a Call?

    • By putting in one over-value chip without saying anything, it is always considered a call. For example, if the big blind is €25 and you're first to act, putting in a €100 chip without actually saying "raise" is considered a call.
    • The more lenient atmosphere of a home game means the dealer will typically ask the player what they actually wanted to do.

4.2 Live Poker Rules and Exceptions - Specific to Cash Games

  1. Can a Player Cash Out Half of Their Chips?

    • A player in a cash game has to play with all of their chips, or none. Cashing out part of your stack (also known as going south) is against the rules, and considered very poor etiquette.
    • If you would like to cash out only part of your chips, you must cash out your entire stack, and wait the set amount of time before taking your seat again. The amount of time to wait changes depending on where you're playing, but it’s normally never less than 30 minutes.
  2. Can a Player Purchase More Chips Off Another Player?

    • This is never a good idea. It's essentially the same concept as going south. The table loses the amount of chips the new player would be buying in for.
    • Always buy your chips from the dealer or the house. In a home game, one person should be in charge of all financial transactions.
  3. How Long Can a Player Wait Before Choosing to Rebuy?

    • After a player loses all of their chips, they must choose whether or not to rebuy before the next hand is dealt.
    • In a home game there is room for lenience on this issue, just as long as the player isn't doing it on purpose to gain some sort of advantage.
  4. Player Misses a Blind (Cash Games)

    • A player can never come into the game between the blinds, or between the button and the blinds (unless they buy the button, see rule below). This applies when moving a player in tournaments as well.
    • If a player misses his or her blind in a cash game, they're not allowed to be dealt into a hand until the button has passed by them to the player on their left (it's treated as if there is no player sitting there). When the button has passed, they must post the amount equal to the blinds they missed.
    • For example, with blinds of €1/€2, a player who misses the big blind (therefore forcing them to also miss the small blind), they must post €3 to be dealt into the hand.
    • A small-blind post is always considered dead, meaning it goes into the pot and does not count toward any action in the hand, while the big-blind portion of the post is live, meaning it does count.
    • A player with a live post still receives option to check or raise when it's their turn to act in the hand.
  5. Buying the button

    • Buying the button is allowed in some locations during a cash game. This means that when a player sits down between the small blind and the button, or on the seat where the button would be next, they have the option to pay both the small and big blind in place of the players with whom the responsibility lies.
    • This allows the player to play on the button, rather than having to wait for it to pass them the next hand.

4.3 Live Poker Rules and Exceptions - Specific to Tournaments

  1. All-In Situations

    • Two players all-in for different amounts: In this scenario, you take the amount of the smaller stack from the big stack into the pot, returning the difference to the big-stack player.
    • Short stack all-in against two players: When a short stack is all-in against two larger stacks, the blinds, short stack, plus the amount of the short stack from each larger stack is placed in the main pot. All players are eligible to win this pot.
    • The two players on the side are now free to play and bet as usual into a side pot, which only they are eligible to win. (This means there can be two winners in the hand - a side pot and a main pot winner.)
    • Multiple players all-in: When multiple players are all-in, you must make multiple side pots. Make a main pot as described above. After you've done that, repeat the process with the next-smallest stack.
    • Continue to do this until all stacks are accounted for. Make sure to keep track of who is eligible for what pots.
  2. Balancing Tables

    • If you're running a tournament with two tables, and table 1 loses two players while table 2 is still full, you're going to have to move one player from table 2 to keep the tables balanced.
    • How to choose who moves is done by moving the player who is in (or closest to) the same position relative to the button. So if the open seat is in the cut-off on table 1, you want to move the player from the cut-off on table 2.
    • This keeps players from having to pay blinds twice, or not at all.
  3. Breaking a Table

    • If you lose enough players to be able to merge one table with another (or multiple others), it's time to break the table. How to choose who sits where is done by drawing for the open seats.
    • If you're moving everyone onto one final table, typically all players, including those already seated at the table, draw for their seat. If you don't have seat cards, just use the deck counting lowest from highest, starting left of the dealer.
  4. Player Misses a Blind (Tournaments)

    • In a tournament, every stack gets dealt a hand regardless of a player being in the seat or not. When the last card is dealt to a player for the hand, the hands without players are mucked.
    • Players not present during their blinds have the blinds posted for them from their stacks, referred to as blinding out.
  5. Player's Stack Size Less Than the Blind

    • When a player's stack is less than the amount of the small blind, they are automatically considered all-in in the next hand they play, regardless of position.
    • If the player's stack is larger than the small blind but smaller than the big blind, they will be considered all-in in any position other than the small blind, assuming they fold for their option.
    • When all-in, the player can only win the amount of their stack, plus that same amount from all of the callers and blinds. If the person has less than the big blind, they can only win the portion of the blind equal to that of their stack.
  6. Removing Smaller Chips from Play

    • When the blinds increase in a tournament, eventually the smaller-value chips will become obsolete. Once the chips are no longer needed, they are chipped up to the next denomination.
    • First, make sure the chips are no longer needed (don't forget to check for antes in the future blind levels). If the blinds are €500/€1,000 doubling, you have no need for any chips smaller than €500 on the table.
    • Change as many low-value chips as you can into higher values and hold on to the remainder. For example, if you have ten €25 chips, you will receive two €100 chips and have two €25 chips left over.
    • Chip racing: The standard way to remove the odd low-value chips is a chip race (this is how it's done in all major tournaments such as the WSOP).
    • First the dealer adds up the total amount of odd chips on the table to determine the amount of larger-value chips up for grabs. For example, if there are 13 €25 chips on the table, they bring four €100 chips to take their place.
    • The dealer starts at the player to their left, dealing them as many cards as they have odd chips face up (if they have three €25 chips, they get three cards), until everyone with €25 chips has a card to represent each of them.
    • Each available chip is given to the players with the highest-valued show card, with each player being allowed to win only one chip. In a case of a tie in rank, suits are used to determine a winner.
    • Rounding up: To save time, some tournaments will round up all leftover chips to the higher value. Regardless of having one €25 chip or three €25 chips, you will receive one €100 chip in their place.

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