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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Andrew 2009-06-24 20:39:00

Really sorry if my question has been asked, there are just so many I couldn't read them all =].


Player 1 has : 10, 2

Player 2 has : 8, 6

the table looks like : 10, J, Q, K, A

The highest hand is on the table, the straight, there is not a flush draw.

Now my question is does player one take the pot because he has a straight with his hand (the 10), or do both players split?

Thanks a ton, this has come up multiple times in games and me and friends are never sure how to work it out (we mostly just split).

christhecat 2009-06-21 11:16:00

thanks for the clarification sean


Sean Lind 2009-06-16 18:27:00

Hey ChrisKitty,

This depends on the house rule for exposing cards. In most poker rooms these days, turning over your hand kills your hand, forfeiting the pot. If that's the rule here, Player 1 should win the pot, no content.

In the world of real poker, where every player is allowed to do what they like with their own two cards, you can show your cards heads-up whenever you like. If this is the rule in the house, showing his cards has not committed him to any action. He can then make the call once he sees the bluff turned over and take the pot.

christhecat 2009-06-14 14:27:00

player1 goes all in after the river
player 2 umms and ahhs for 5 minutes then turns his cards over not declaring any bet or fold or placing any chips.
player 1 throws his cards onto table revealing all in bluff and thinks he has won as player 2 has not bet therefore folding.? a fight ensues mayhem follows.any help on who was right please sean

Sean Lind 2009-06-10 20:54:00

You're welcome Speedy. Any more questions you come up with, just post them in the comments.


Speedybd 2009-06-09 19:53:00


Awesome, exactly what I needed. Interesting to know about the 50% rule only being in Limit play, but it makes sense. It makes the no-limit scenario much more cut and dry.

Thanks Again!!!

Sean Lind 2009-06-09 18:13:00


Ok, your second post.

Q1: If a player has enough chips to do so, all of their actions must be in complete bets. Player's 1 and two must call $2000, leaving a $2400 side pot.

Q2: In this situation, players 1 and 2 can only call.

The first thing to clear up is the 50% rule. There is no such thing in No-Limit. the 50% rule is a limit rule only, anyone using it in a No-Limit game is incorrect.

Once a player checks or calls, they are no longer allowed to raise any bet less than that of a complete bet.

If you took the same example, but you switched the stacks of player 2 and player 3, when player 2 goes all in, player 3 can raise any amount he wants.

If player 3 just calls, player 1 can only call, they checked before the only bet, and even though they must call $2000 (and the original bet was only $800) they are still not allowed to raise.

Sean Lind 2009-06-09 17:58:00

Hey Speedy,

let's work on your first question first:

On the river, the last person to bet or raise is the first person required to open their hand on showdown (regardless of the number of callers).

After that first person opens, each player must open in sequence Clockwise around the table.

The only exception here is if someone shows out of turn, anyone can muck their hand at any time.

In a situation where everyone mucks their hands on showdown leaving only one player with live cards, technically that player wins the pot without having to show. But, most poker rooms have a rule that "You need to show to cards to win at showdown". They don't make an exception to this rule in this situation, forcing you to show both your cards.

SpeedyBD 2009-06-08 00:27:00

Two questions/scenarios, same State...


Post Flop (betting on flop) Player 3 has dealer button

Blinds 1K and 2K

Player 1 - 8K in chips
Player 2 - 10K in chips
Player 3 - 800 in chips


P1 - Checks
P2 - Checks
P3 - All in with 800 chips (not meeting minimum big blind bet)

Q1 - As P1 and P2 checked prior to P3's all in less than minimum bet, may P1 call the 800, then P2 call the 800 and then begin on 4th street with a potential side pot? Or must P1 and P2 meet the big blind minimum bet creating a 2400K side pot?

Q2 - Less than 50% rule on raises?... Same setup with P2 wanting to raise...


P1 Checks
P2 - Checks
P3 - All in with 800 Chips (less than 50% of minimum big blind)

P1 Calls 800
P2 - Now wants to go all in against P1 with the 10K.

Because P3 who was last to act brings action to the table with such a minimal all in bet after P1 and P2 checks, and then P1 calls P3's small all in (or meets the BB depending on your answer to Q1), is not the information gained by P2 about P1 unfair due to a low bet commitment by P3's short stack all in? Isn't there a rule that if there are checks all around to an all in bet less than 50% of the minimum bet requires only the option of a call or fold and does not allow for a raise?


SpeedyBD 2009-06-08 00:10:00


Great service. Thanks!

You have hit on this question here and there but I would like to get clarification with a few questions.

Is the last person to make a bet/raise the first person that must reveal their cards in a showdown?

If so, is it then clockwise from the last bettor for anyone else who wishes to contend the pot? I realize that typically this is not an issue, but on many occasions those calling wish to see the bettor's hand and if those calling have lost, they want the option to muck.

As described in an earlier Q&A, if out of three players and after the river the bettor and one of the two callers both muck their hands, why should the last caller being now the only one holding a live hand, reveal their cards after the showdown?



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