"Anyone slower than me is an idiot. Anyone faster than me is a maniac..."
We play standard No Limit Hold 'Em rules -here's some general pointers for the yet to be uninitiated. I might use phrases here that are peculiar to the game, and I can't be arsed to proof-read it or give a longhand explanation, so for a glossary of the more commonly used poker terms and what the hell they mean, just point your mouse here.
"Sorry, this BEATS wired Aces AFTER midnight..."
Most new players to the group have never played in a casino, and many have not even played in a public cardroom, but the rules we observe are pretty much common practice in all Brick & Mortar games and are therefore worth learning from a 'good practice' point of view. If you're involved in a game and people start correcting your plays please don't get annoyed with them - they're just trying to help you to play properly. If you ever make it to the WSOP you'll thank them! Having said all that, if you can familiarise learn the following guff verbatim you might find yourself being the table anal-retentive. Clench! Clench!
It's nice if we can play more than one hand an hour, so please WAKE UP, post your blinds BEFORE cards are dealt and make sure you ante-up in good time, or you'll find the Dealer Button bouncing off your head. I must confess I'm a terrible one for this and am always getting a sharp nudge in the lateral obliques or a kick under the table. Note to self - buy shinpads...
You check in turn. You bet in turn. You fold in turn. It's really not that difficult. Pay attention. ‘Nuff said?
In Tournament games we generally 'colour-up' in order to get rid of the lower value chips at defined points in the tourney. Otherwise the stacks get too high and you can't see the fear in your opponent's eyes. For example after level 12 we 'colour up' the £25 chips. You receive one $100 chip for every four $25 chips you hold (nice to see that expensive education paying dividends), and any players holding 'odd' chips then have a 'chip race' to determine who gets paid for the extra chips. There are a few ways of achieving this, the following being the most common.
(1) Every player receives a card for each 'odd' chip they hold and the highest card wins ALL of the 'odd' chips on the table. If there is a single odd chip left over this is usually rounded up to one chip of the next highest value, so 1 x $25 chip would be exchanged for a single $100 chip and awarded to the winner of the chip race. This is generally how we do it in our home games, because it's easy, and we're just plain lazy. Why in the name of Alan did that take a whole paragraph?
(2) Every player receives a card for every odd chip they hold. Let's say the total number of odd chips is 12 x $25. They would be replaced by 3 x $100 chips. The highest card receives ONE single $100 chip, the second highest card ONE single $100 chip, and the third highest card the remaining $100 chip. Many card rooms and casinos use this (slightly different) method of racing which distributes the chips more evenly, so that no one person at the table receives more than one larger denomination chip.
N.B. In the event of two or more players having the high card Bridge suits break ties for the winner (in order of lowest to highest - Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades. If you have a problem remembering the order just keep in mind that its ranked in alphabetical order (CDHS). Easy.
The minimum amount a player can bet is always dictated by the size of the Big Blind at that stage of play. Hence if the Big Blind is $50 and player 1 opts to open the post-flop betting he MUST bet at least $50. The only time this does not apply is if a player is going all-in and this is lower than the minimum bet amount. When this is the case the bet to the next player is still the size of the Big Blind.
The amount raised must be at least as much as the previous bet or raise in that round of betting. For instance, player 1 bets $40. Player 2 must raise a minimum of $40 (for a total minimum bet of $80).
In NL Holdem at any time during play (and when it is his/her turn to act) a player may declare themselves ‘all-in’ and move all of their chips in front of them (that's why it's called No Limit - there's no limit to the size of the bet you can make at any time other than the number of chips in front of you). It's worth noting that the 'all-in' player can only win the amount they have bet from other players at the table, and all bets made by other players following this all-in move make up a ‘side pot’ which they in turn compete for even if they lose to the player who is 'all-in'.
Check raising is permitted (nay, encouraged!) throughout the game. We like all that sneaky stuff...
If a new player wishes to enters the game then he/she must post a Big Blind in order to join the table. For the purposes of betting this is considered a 'live' bet so the player can raise when it comes to their turn to act.
If there are ten players we decide where we all sit by assigning a number to each seat, drawing cards 1-10 from the deck and dealing a card to each player. Whoever is dealt the '1' card shall be assigned the button for the first hand and everyone else takes their seats accordingly clockwise from the dealer position. In cash games if players wish to change seats later in the evening they may do so as long as everyone is in agreement, but cannot play until the Button has passed them (unless they wish to post a 'live' Big Blind) as above. In tournament games when tables merge new players to the table occupy the vacant seats as directed by the host and enter the game when the Button has passed them.
When players on the Blinds are busted out on a hand it can often cause confusion at the table, so to clear things up we always play play the 'Dead Button' rule. This means that no player receives the button in a round unless they have paid their Small Blind and Big Blind. For example:
Small Blind gets eliminated in a hand. The button moves to the eliminated player's table position. It is a 'Dead' button because the player on the button is out of the game. The Big Blind from the previous hand posts the Small Blind. The Under The Gun from the last hand becomes the Big Blind. Next hand the button rotates as normal.
Big Blind gets eliminated in a hand. The button MOVES to the Small Blind from the previous hand and the Under The Gun player from the previous hand posts a Big Blind. There is NO small blind posted. Next hand the 'dead button' moves to the eliminated BB player's vacant position and the Big Blind would post a Small Blind and the Under The Gun Player would post a Big Blind. Next hand the button rotates as normal.
SB and BB get eliminated in the same hand. Dead button moves to the eliminated SB player's spot and the UTG from the previous hand posts only a Big Blind. Next hand the dead button moves to the eliminated BB space and the BB would post a Small Blind and the UTG would post a Big Blind. Next hand the button rotates as normal. Easy peasy japanesey...
In all instances where there is a 'Dead Button' in play no cards are dealt to that position and the player who was previously on the button retains the advantage of acting last.
This one's just for me. God it's annoying. "Ooh, all I have is a pair of Jacks. Oh and this other Jack. Does that win?" Slowrollers can go play in the traffic at night with their sunnies on. Erm, Slowrolling is an at times entertaining, somewhat frustrating but deliberate habit that some players have of slowly revealing that they have the winning hand. I keep a very large baseball bat at hand for just such players. It's a Louisville Slugger. A heavy one.
For the purposes of clarity, we prefer verbal declarations of intention (i.e. fold, call, raise, check). All verbal declarations are binding, even when they are made out of turn. If you declare a RAISE then you must raise at least the minimum amount (being the previous bet/size of the Big Blind). It should make sense that Oral string betting is possible and is also not permitted, so a player cannot announce, “Well, I'll call your $100, and I'll raise you $400!”. The word call is the binding verbal declaration - you can't raise.
If you are the loser at a showdown there is no need for you to show your cards unless you want to, or unless your opponent has a very large baseball bat. If you are the winner of an uncontested hand (i.e. everybody folds to your bet) there is likewise no need for you to show your cards unless you really, really want to show off. If, however, you win at the showdown you MUST show your cards to all players present, not just flash them to the other player(s) contesting the pot with you. Show them winners!
If a hole card is dealt face-up, the deal is halted, and the cards will be re-shuffled, re-cut and re-dealt. I don't care if you think it'll break your winning streak (in any case, in poker it's unlucky to be superstitious).
This one really gives me the hump, because I see it so often. A string bet is when you appear to be simply calling a bet, but then you reach back for more chips to make a raise. It can cause other players to react and give away information providing an unfair advantage to the bettor and other players still in the hand, and for this reason we don't allow it. Put simply, if you have put chips out on the table, you cannot go back to your stack to get more. If you always declare "call" or "raise" as you bet, you will be immune to this problem. If you announce "raise" you can then take all the time you want counting out your chips (and checking out your opponent) before announcing the amount you intend to raise and moving your chips forward over the old 'imaginary line'.
If a player with a $50 bet in front of him puts a single $100 chip into the pot, but does not declare a raise before releasing the chip, that player is assumed to have only called the $50 bet. This is taken to be a call and they would get $50 change. This only happens with 'single chip' actions.
Please don't chuck your chips into the pot, across the room, or towards another player (even if you're married to them). It might look 'sub-zero', but it makes it a nightmare for me and everyone else to track what's going on in the hand. If you catch me stacking up your chips into neat little piles in the centre of the table and tut-tutting loudly it's a sure sign you're being a bit too flamboyant with your chips. When betting please simply place your chips (elegantly!) on the table in front of your cards, preferably stating the amount calmly and succintly (e.g. “Raise, $3000”) before sitting back, raising your glass, smiling and saying "chin chin" to the remaining players – the dealer will place your chips in the pot as appropriate when betting ends. Ok maybe not quite that bad but just don't bloody well hoy 'em in there OK?
Ideally if a player is going all-in, he/she should declare the amount they are setting in for (e.g. “All in - $1200”. This just makes it easier for everyone and does away for the need to ask for a chip count. It's just good practice.
Try and keep your chips stacked so that if another player asks for a chip count it doesn’t take the dealer 10 minutes to determine your holding. In addition to this you should keep your larger denomination chips (such as the $500 chips) visible to the other players (in other words don't hide them behind your huge stack of $1s!) - again, this is just good practice.
In a split pot at showdown an odd chip is always broken down into the smallest denomination chip in use at that time. If there is still an odd chip left over it is awarded to the first player clockwise from the button. If there are odd chips left over after a chip race they are always rounded up to one chip of the next highest value, so 3x $25 chips would be exchanged for a single $100 chip and awarded to the winner of the chip race.
If you intend to play your cards I'd suggest your using a marker, half-full ashtray, lucky rabbit's foot or a Gonk (replete with Green Hair) to protect them. If they accidentally get mixed up by you or another player mucking his hand into the discards your hand will be dead and your bets forfeit. In addition to this you should be careful when looking at your hole cards not to allow others to catch a glimpse of them, especially at a full ring game.
If you intend to fold a hand, don't flash your cards to another player, even if that player has already folded. Although the information may not be helpful to them in the current hand, the danger is that someone still involved in the pot might catch a glimpse of your cards, which would in turn assist them. In addition, the player who is seeing the flashed cards will get information on your play that is not available to other players at the table. Discussing a hand while the hand is in progress is also not permitted, no matter how bad your cards were, or how unhappy you are that you folded the probable winner ("Bollocks. I would have made sevens full of twos"). If you show your cards to any active player at any time it is every players right to see your cards (even when the hand is over). "Show one, show all" is a phrase you will hear more than once at our games!
If you choose to fold you're out of the hand for that game, so leave the deadwood alone! Pulling your own dead cards from the muck to 'see what you would have had' (or indeed, what other players have tossed) either during or after the hand is distracting to players who are still involved in the hand and for that reason we don't allow it. If you are really all that fond of your cards, why not play 'em?
Card marking (through bending etc), signalling (or other form of collusion), partnerships, and any other shady practice that might give one player an unfair advantage over another will not be tolerated. Anyone caught cheating will not only be pummeled until sore a la that-scene-in-Rounders, but worse, they won’t be invited back to one of our games again. Ever.
- "Behold the power of the Beer Hand!" -