Other Odd Poker Rules and Exceptions


In the game of poker, there are hundreds of odd situations that can occur and numerous arcane rules that may or may not apply to them.

When money is on the line, however, there needs to be a set, fair way to deal with all of these anomalies.

Plenty of players across poker forums, comment boards and in the real world are always looking for answers as to these odd situations, so the goal of this article is to create a definitive list of rules to resolve these conundrums.Without further ado here is my list of odd situations and Texas Hold'em poker rules.

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.

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.

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.

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.

This is known as recycling. The amount of time to wait changes depending on where you're playing, but I've never seen it lower than 30 minutes (the default online recycle timeframe).

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.

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 nonboxed cards, the hand is declared dead, with all chips being returned to their original stacks as accurately as possible.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Suit Rankings

In poker, the official suit ranking goes with the official Bridge ranking system, which is alphabetical. From worst to best:

Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades

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.

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Sean Lind 2010-05-06 18:57:19


This is a bad situation, but it does happen. The rule here is "Substantial Action". Once two actions have been made, you can no longer reverse what has been done.

Basically you're going to have to continue playing out the hand as if no mistake had been made.

If you catch the mistake before two actions have been made, only then can you halt the action and fix what has gone wrong.

stuart matthews 2010-05-06 02:24:27

if a burn mistake is made and not pointed out till the hand has ended how can the hand be resolved. all the discarded cards, including burn cards are in the middle of the table and nobody can correctly identify their own discarded hands. 2 people are heads up at the end of betting and 1 person is all-in. should the hand be declared void and the chips in play be returned to the 2 remaining players?

Sean Lind 2010-04-30 19:09:45


Firstly you have to specify if it's a tournament or a cash game. In a tournament you can never make a deal.

In a cash game you can choose to chop a pot anytime you like, as long as all players in the hand agree. But this would be a stupid time to chop, since the player with suited Ace king is basically freerolling for a flush for the whole pot.

If they really want to though, they are allowed to chop it and save the dealer a few seconds.

Sean Lind 2010-04-30 19:07:49

John Fraser,

I'm not sure who wrote that, but they were huffing glue.

When a player is all in, all players who called the final bet (or raised on top of it) are in on the main pot, along with any previous bets, including blinds.

Blinds 50/100

P1 - calls 100
p2 - raises 300
p3 - all-in for 1000
both blinds fold
p1 - re-raises to 5000
p2 calls

In this scenario 1000 from each player, plus the blinds will go into the main pot - 3,150.

The remaining 8,000 goes into the side pot. Any more betting between players 1 and 2 will be into that side pot.

When you get to showdown, you always start with the smallest side pot. All players eligible for that pot compare their hands, winner takes the pot.

The winner then compares his hand to that of the players eligible for the next side pot.

As for your specific question, if the all-in player has the same hand as the player who won the side pot (let's say player 1), then both players simply split the main pot, like you would do any other time.

p1 gets side pot + half of main
p2 loses it all
p3 (who was all in) gets half the main.

Liadan 2010-04-30 17:41:16

Ok 2 players on the table preflop. Player A - Ace of hearts and a king of hearts; player B - Ace of clubs and king of clubs. Both players went all in before their hands were delt, can they then split the pot or do they have to wait for the flop?

John Fraser 2010-04-29 21:39:50

I host an annual Hold'em Tournament, when I first started I searched the internet for a list of basic Hold'em rules that we could adhere to. One of the rules, I thought was a bit odd when first read, but none the less we followed it was one that concerned a tie with an "All-In" player here's how it read:

Once a player is “all in” the main pot will be frozen until the conclusion of the current game. The remaining players will form a side pot to be awarded to highest hand amongst the players in the side pot. The “All In” player(s) is only eligible to win the main pot; he cannot tie for high hand. If the All In player does not win the hand then the winner of the side pot wins both pots.

Does this sound right?? If he "ties" he's out? Recently this has been called into question and I have no problem changing the ruling, I'm just trying to find out where I dug this rule up or what style of play it pertains to.... Thanks, hope you can save my sanity.

Sean Lind 2010-04-28 23:44:15


In that scenario there will be no small blind. Button, nothing, big blind. Everything back to normal in the hand to follow.

DON VANBLARICOM 2010-04-28 21:18:37

In tournement play, a player who posts the big blind goes all in and looses, if the big blind go to the next player what happens to the little blind?

Sean Lind 2010-04-26 19:36:03

Randy Yaeger,

If the dealer does not announce a raise, then you will be allowed to take back the bet made on that action. Since the small blind was a forced bet, that's forfeit. If the dealer didn't announce the raise the player can take back the other moneys.

Remember, it only matters that the dealer clearly announces the raise, not that the player hears it.

Randy Yaeger 2010-04-26 02:38:49

In a club I was playing in they have a full time dealer that is also a player. In this particular hand a player made a raise. The player in the small blind did not notice the raise and put in the balance to equal the big blind but not enough to equall the raise. When the dealer told him he needed to put additional chips into the pot the small blind said it was not a legal raise because the dealer did not call raise.
My question is this, are his chips committerd to the pot? or can he take back the part of the bet that completes the big blind? Everyone agreed that the small blind portion of his bet was already in the pot, the second half of his bet was the question. I believe he should be allowed to back the second half of his bet.


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