ROBERT’S RULES OF POKER

VERSION 4

“Robert’s Rules Of Poker” is authored by Robert Ciaffone, better known in the poker world as Bob Ciaffone, a leading authority on cardroom rules. He is the person who has selected which rules to use, and formatted, organized, and worded the text. Nearly all these rules are substantively in common use for poker, but many improved ideas for wording and organization are employed throughout this work. A lot of the rules are similar to those used in the rulebook of cardrooms where he has acted as a rules consultant and rules drafter. Ciaffone authored the rulebook for the Poker Players Association (founded in 1984, now defunct), the first comprehensive set of poker rules for the general public. He has done extensive work on rules for the Las Vegas Hilton, The Mirage, and Hollywood Park Casino, and assisted many other cardrooms. Ciaffone is a regular columnist for Card Player magazine, and can be reached through that publication. This rulebook will be periodically revised, so suggestions are welcome.

Poker rules are widely used and freely copied, so it is impossible to construct a rulebook without using many rules that exist as part of a rule set of some cardroom. If such a rule is used, no credit is given to the source (which is unlikely to be the original one for the rule).

The goal of this rulebook is to produce the best set of rules in existence, and make it generally available, so any person or cardroom can use it who so desires. The purpose is the betterment of poker.

The author has strongly supported uniform poker rules, and applauds the work done in this direction by the Tournament Director’s Association (TDA). All the rules herein are compatible with the TDA rules, although there are some slight differences in wording.

This rulebook may be copied or downloaded by anyone, provided it is not sold for profit without written permission from the author, and the name “Robert’s Rules of Poker” is used or credited. Excerpts of less than a full chapter may be used without restriction or credit. People are welcome to use these rules, and even put their own business name on them, but this does not give a person or business any rights other than to use the rules in their own establishment, or to make copies available to someone else with the same restrictions applied to the recipient as stated here. Anyone may make copies of these rules and distribute them at no charge to recipients as a business promotion without obtaining permission.

THIS IS THE OFFICIAL RULEBOOK FOR OUR CARDROOM

Welcome to our cardroom. Your presence in our establishment means that you agree to abide by our rules and procedures. By taking a seat in one of our card games, you are accepting our management to be the final authority on all matters relating to that game.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

(1) PROPER BEHAVIOR ……………………….. 1

Conduct Code 1

Poker Etiquette 1

Tobacco Use 2

(2) HOUSE POLICIES …………………………… 3

Decision-Making 3

Procedures 3
Seating 6
(3) GENERAL POKER RULES ………………. 8

The Buy-In 8

Misdeals 8

Dead Hands 9

Irregularities 10

Betting and Raising 11

The Showdown 13

Ties 14

(4) BUTTON AND BLIND USE ……………….. 16

(5) HOLD’EM ……………………………………….. 19

(6) OMAHA ………………………………………….. 21

(7) OMAHA HIGH-LOW …………………………. 22

(8) SEVEN-CARD STUD ……………………….. 23

(9) RAZZ (SEVEN-CARD STUD LOW) ……. 27

(10) SEVEN-CARD STUD HIGH-LOW ………. 28
(11) LOWBALL ………………………………………. 30

Ace-to-five Lowball 33

Deuce-to-seven Lowball 33
No-limit and Pot-limit Lowball 34
(12) DRAW HIGH ……………………………………. 35

Jacks-or-Better 36

The Joker 38

(13) KILL POTS ……………………………………… 39

(14) NO-LIMIT AND POT-LIMIT ……………….. 41

Pot-limit 43

(15) TOURNAMENTS …………………………….. 45

(16) EXPLANATIONS …………………………….. 48

GLOSSARY ……………………………………. 51

1 – PROPER BEHAVIOR

CONDUCT CODE
Management will attempt to maintain a pleasant environment for all our customers and employees, but is not responsible for the conduct of any player. We have established a code of conduct, and may deny the use of our cardroom to anyone who violates it. The following is not permitted:

Collusion with another player or any other form of cheating.

Verbally or physically threatening any patron or employee.

Using profanity or obscene language.

Creating a disturbance by arguing, shouting, or making excessive noise.

Throwing, tearing, bending, or crumpling cards.

Destroying or defacing property.

Using an illegal substance.

Carrying a weapon.

POKER ETIQUETTE
The following actions are improper, and grounds for warning, suspending, or barring a violator:

Deliberately acting out of turn.

Deliberately splashing chips into the pot.

Agreeing to check a hand out when a third player is all-in.

Reading a hand for another player at the showdown before it has been placed faceup on the table.

Telling anyone to turn a hand faceup at the showdown.

Revealing the contents of a live hand in a multihanded pot before the betting is complete.

Needlessly stalling the action of a game.

Deliberately discarding hands away from the muck. Cards should be released in a low line of flight, at a moderate rate of speed (not at the dealer’s hands or chip-rack).

Stacking chips in a manner that interferes with dealing or viewing cards.

Making statements or taking action that could unfairly influence the course of play, whether or not the offender is involved in the pot.

Using a cell phone at the table.

TOBACCO USE
(These rules are for an establishment that does not completely bar smoking.)

The seat on each side of the dealer is a nonsmoking seat.

Cigar or pipe smoking is not allowed in the cardroom.

Smoking by a guest or spectator is not allowed.

2 – HOUSE POLICIES

DECISION-MAKING
1. Management reserves the right to make decisions in the spirit of fairness, even if a strict interpretation of the rules may indicate a different ruling.

2. Decisions of the shift supervisor are final.

3. The proper time to draw attention to an error or irregularity is when it occurs or is first noticed. Any delay may affect the ruling.

4. If an incorrect rule interpretation or decision by an employee is made in good faith, the establishment has no liability.

5. A ruling may be made regarding a pot if it has been requested before the next deal starts (or before the game either ends or changes to another table). Otherwise, the result of a deal must stand. The first riffle of the shuffle marks the start for a deal.

6. If a pot has been incorrectly awarded and mingled with chips that were not in the pot, but the time limit for a ruling request given in the previous rule has been complied with, management may determine how much was in the pot by reconstructing the betting, and then transfer that amount to the proper player.

7. To keep the action moving, it is possible that a game may be asked to continue even though a decision is delayed for a short period. The delay could be needed to check the overhead camera tape, get the shift supervisor to give the ruling, or some other good reason. In such circumstances, a pot or portion thereof may be impounded by the house while the decision is pending.

8. The same action may have a different meaning, depending on who does it, so the possible intent of an offender will be taken into consideration. Some factors here are the person’s amount of poker experience and past record.

PROCEDURES
1. Management will decide when to start or close any game.

2. Collections (seat rental fees) are paid in advance. In all time-collection games, the dealer is required to pick up the collection from each player before dealing the first hand. A player not wishing to pay collection may play one courtesy hand in stud, and may play until the blind in button games, provided no one is waiting for the game. If there is more than one person on the list for that game when the collection becomes due, everyone must pay collection. A new player is not required to pay if there is either no list or only one person waiting.

3. Cash is not permitted on the table. All cash should be changed into chips in order to play. If a player appears unaware of this rule and attempts to play unnoticed cash that was on the table during a pot, the dealer may let the cash play if no one in the pot objects, then have all the cash changed into chips after the hand. Any chips from another establishment are not permitted on the table, do not play in the game, and if discovered will be treated similarly to unnoticed cash. [See Section 16 – “Explanations,” discussion #5, for more information on this rule.]

4. The establishment is not responsible for any shortage or removal of chips left on the table during a player’s absence, even though we will try to protect everyone as best we can.

5. All games are table stakes (except “playing behind” as given in the next rule). All chips and money must be kept in plain view. Chips may be removed for security purposes when leaving the table, but must be fully restored upon return. If you return to the same game within one hour of cashing out, your buy-in must be equal to the amount removed when leaving that game.

6. “Playing behind” is allowed only for the amount of purchased chips while awaiting their arrival. The amount in play must be announced to the table, or only the amount of the minimum buy-in plays.

7. Playing out of a rack is not allowed.

8. Only one person may play a hand.

9. No one is allowed to play another player’s chips.

10. Permission is required before taking a seat in a game.

11. Playing over without permission from the floorperson is not allowed. A playover box is required. Permission from the absent player is not necessary.

12. Pushing bets (“saving” or “potting out”) is not allowed.

13. Pushing an ante or posting for another person is not allowed.

14. Splitting pots will not be allowed in any game. Chopping the big and small blind by taking them back when all other players have folded is allowed in button games.

15. Insurance propositions are not allowed. Dealing twice (or three times) when all-in is permitted at big-bet poker.

16. The game’s betting limit will not be changed if two or more players object. Raising the limit is subject to management approval.

17. Players must keep their cards in full view. This means above table-level and not past the edge of the table. The cards should not be covered by the hands in a manner to completely conceal them.

18. Any player is entitled to a clear view of an opponent’s chips. Higher denomination chips should be easily visible.

19. Your chips may be picked up if you are away from the table for more than 30 minutes. Your absence may be extended if you notify a floorperson in advance. Frequent or continuous absences may cause your chips to be picked up from the table.

20. A lock-up in a new game will be picked up after five minutes if someone is waiting to play. No seat may be locked up for more than ten minutes if someone is waiting to play.

21. A new deck must be used for at least a full round (once around the table) before it may be changed, and a new setup must be used for at least an hour, unless a deck is defective or damaged, or cards become sticky.

22. Looking through the discards or deck stub is not allowed.

23. After a deal ends, dealers are asked to not show what card would have been dealt.

24. A player is expected to pay attention to the game and not hold up play. Activity that interferes with this such as reading at the table is discouraged, and the player will be asked to cease if a problem is caused.

25. A non-player may not sit at the table.

26. In non-tournament games, you may have a guest sit behind you if no one in the game objects. It is improper for a guest to look at any hand other then your own.

27. Speaking a foreign language during a deal is not allowed.

SEATING
1. You must be present to add your name to a waiting list.

2. It is the player’s responsibility to be in the playing area and hear the list being called. A player who intends to leave the playing area should notify the list-person, and can leave money for a lockup. The lockup amount is $20.

3. When there is more than one game of the same stakes and poker form, and a must-move is not being used, the house will control the seating of new players to best preserve the viability of existing games. A new player will be sent to the game most in need of an additional player. A transfer to a similar game is not allowed if the game being left will then have fewer players than the game being entered.

4. A player may not hold a seat in more than one game.

5. The house reserves the right to require that any two players not play in the same game (husband and wife, relatives, business partners, and so forth).

6. When a button game starts, active players will draw a card for the button position. The button will be awarded to the highest card by suit for all high and high-low games, and to the lowest card by suit for all low games.

7. In a new game, the player who arrives at the table the earliest gets first choice of remaining seats. If two players want the same seat and arrive at the same time, the higher player on the list has preference. A player playing a pot in another game may have a designated seat locked up until that hand is finished. Management may reserve a certain seat for a player, as to assist in ease of reading the board for a person with a vision problem, or some other good reason.

8. To avoid a seating dispute, a supervisor may decide to start the game with one extra player over the normal number participating. If so, a seat will be removed as soon as someone quits the game.

9. In order to protect an existing game, a forced move may be invoked when an additional game of the same type and limit is started. The must-move list is maintained in the same order as the original waiting list. If a player refuses to move into the main game, that player will be forced to quit, and may not play in the must-move game or get on that list for one hour.

10. You must play in a new game or must-move game to retain your place on the list, if by your playing there would be three or fewer empty seats.

11. In all button games, a player going from a must-move game to the main game may play until due for the big blind. The player must then enter the game as a new player, and may either post an amount equal to the big blind or wait for the big blind. In all stud games, a player may play only one more hand before moving.

12. A player who is already in the game has precedence over a new player for any seat when it becomes available. However, no change will occur after a new player has been seated, or after that player’s buy-in or marker has been placed on the table, unless that particular seat had been previously requested. For players already in the game, the one who asks the earliest has preference for a seat change.

13. In all button games, a player voluntarily locking up a seat in another game must move immediately if there is a waiting list of two or more names for the seat being vacated, except that the player is entitled to play the button if a blind has already been taken. Otherwise, a player may play up to the blind before moving. In a stud game, a player changing tables may play only the present hand if someone is waiting for the seat being vacated, or one more hand when no one is waiting.

14. When a game breaks, each player may draw a card to determine the seating order for a similar game. The floorperson draws a card for an absent player. If the card entitles the absent player to an immediate seat, the player has until due for the big blind in a button game to take the seat (two hands in a stud game), and will be put first up on the list if not back in time.

SECTION 3 – GENERAL POKER RULES
THE BUY-IN

1. When you enter a game, you must make a full buy-in for that particular game. A full buy-in at limit poker is at least ten times the maximum bet for the game being played, unless designated otherwise.

2. You are allowed to make only one short buy-in for a game. Adding to your stack is not considered a buy-in, and may be done in any quantity between hands.

3. A player who is forced to transfer from a broken game or must-move game to a game of the same limit may continue to play the same amount of money, even if it is less than the minimum buy-in. A player switching games voluntarily must have the proper buy-in size for the new game.

MISDEALS

1. The following circumstances cause a misdeal, provided attention is called to the error before two players have acted on their hands. (If two players have acted in turn, the deal must be played to conclusion, as explained in rule #2)

(a) The first or second card of the hand has been dealt faceup or exposed through dealer error.

(b) Two or more cards have been exposed by the dealer.

(c) Two or more boxed cards (improperly faced cards) are found.

(d) Two or more extra cards have been dealt in the starting hands of a game.

(e) An incorrect number of cards has been dealt to a player, except the top card may be dealt if it goes to the player in proper sequence.

(f) Any card has been dealt out of the proper sequence (except an exposed card may be replaced by the burncard).

(g) The button was out of position.

(h) The first card was dealt to the wrong position.

(i) Cards have been dealt to an empty seat or a player not entitled to a hand.

(j) A player has been dealt out who is entitled to a hand. This player must be present at the table or have posted a blind or ante.

2. Action is considered to occur in stud games when two players after the forced bet have acted on their hands. In button games, action is considered to occur when two players after the blinds have acted on their hands. Once action occurs, a misdeal can no longer be declared. The hand will be played to conclusion and no money will be returned to any player whose hand is fouled.

DEAD HANDS
1. Your hand is declared dead if:

(a) You fold or announce that you are folding when facing a bet or a raise.

(b) You throw your hand away in a forward motion causing another player to act behind you (even if not facing a bet).

(c) In stud, when facing a bet, you pick your upcards off the table, turn your upcards facedown, or mix your upcards and downcards together.

(d) The hand does not contain the proper number of cards for that particular game (except at stud a hand missing the final card may be ruled live, and at lowball and draw high a hand with too few cards before the draw is live). [See Section 16 – “Explanations,” discussion #4, for more information on the stud portion of this rule.]

(e) You act on a hand with a joker as a holecard in a game not using a joker. (A player who acts on a hand without looking at a card assumes the liability of finding an improper card, as given in Irregularities, rule #8.)

(f) You have the clock on you when facing a bet or raise and exceed the specified time limit.

2. Cards thrown into the muck may be ruled dead. However, a hand that is clearly identifiable may be retrieved at management’s discretion if doing so is in the best interest of the game. We will make an extra effort to rule a hand retrievable if it was folded as a result of false information given to the player.

3. Cards thrown into another player’s hand are dead, whether they are faceup or facedown.

IRREGULARITIES

1. In button games, if it is discovered that the button was placed incorrectly on the previous hand, the button and blinds will be corrected for the new hand in a manner that gives every player one chance for each position on the round (if possible).

2. You must protect your own hand at all times. Your cards may be protected with your hands, a chip, or other object placed on top of them. If you fail to protect your hand, you will have no redress if it becomes fouled or the dealer accidentally kills it.

3. If a card with a different color back appears during a hand, all action is void and all chips in the pot are returned to the respective bettors. If a card with a different color back is discovered in the stub, all action stands.

4. If two cards of the same rank and suit are found, all action is void, and all chips in the pot are returned to the players who wagered them (subject to next rule).

5. A player who knows the deck is defective has an obligation to point this out. If such a player instead tries to win a pot by taking aggressive action (trying for a freeroll), the player may lose the right to a refund, and the chips may be required to stay in the pot for the next deal.

6. If there is extra money in the pot on a deal as a result of forfeited money from the previous deal (as per rule #5), or some similar reason, only a player dealt in on the previous deal is entitled to a hand.

7. A card discovered faceup in the deck (boxed card) will be treated as a meaningless scrap of paper. A card being treated as a scrap of paper will be replaced by the next card below it in the deck, except when the next card has already been dealt facedown to another player and mixed in with other downcards. In that case, the card that was faceup in the deck will be replaced after all other cards are dealt for that round.

8. A joker that appears in a game where it is not used is treated as a scrap of paper. Discovery of a joker does not cause a misdeal. If the joker is discovered before a player acts on his or her hand, it is replaced as in the previous rule. If the player does not call attention to the joker before acting, then the player has a dead hand.

9. If you play a hand without looking at all of your cards, you assume the liability of having an irregular card or an improper joker.

10. One or more cards missing from the deck does not invalidate the results of a hand.

11. Before the first round of betting, if a dealer deals one additional card, it is returned to the deck and used as the burncard.

12. Procedure for an exposed card varies with the poker form, and is given in the section for each game. A card that is flashed by a dealer is treated as an exposed card. A card that is flashed by a player will play. To obtain a ruling on whether a card was exposed and should be replaced, a player should announce that the card was flashed or exposed before looking at it. A downcard dealt off the table is an exposed card.

13. If a card is exposed due to dealer error, a player does not have an option to take or reject the card. The situation will be governed by the rules for the particular game being played.

14. If you drop a card on the floor out of your hand, you must still play that card.

15. If the dealer prematurely deals any cards before the betting is complete, those cards will not play, even if a player who has not acted decides to fold.

BETTING AND RAISING

1. Check-raise is permitted in all games, except in certain forms of lowball.

2. In no-limit and pot-limit games, unlimited raising is allowed.

3. In limit poker, for a pot involving three or more players who are not all-in, these limits on raises apply:

(a) A game with three or more betting rounds allows a maximum of a bet and three raises.

(b) A game with two betting rounds (such as lowball or draw) allows a maximum of a bet and four raises. [See “Section 16 – Explanations,” discussion #6, for more information on this rule.]

4. Unlimited raising is allowed in heads-up play. This applies any time the action becomes heads-up before the raising has been capped. Once the raising is capped on a betting round, it cannot be uncapped by a subsequent fold that leaves two players heads-up.

5. In limit play, an all-in wager of less than half a bet does not reopen the betting for any player who has already acted and is in the pot for all previous bets. A player facing less than half a bet may fold, call, or complete the wager. An all-in wager of a half a bet or more is treated as a full bet, and a player may fold, call, or make a full raise. (An example of a full raise is on a $20 betting round, raising a $15 all-in bet to $35).

6. Any wager must be at least the size of the previous bet or raise in that round, unless a player is going all-in.

7. The smallest chip that may be wagered in a game is the smallest chip used in the antes, blinds, rake, or collection. (Certain games may use a special rule that does not allow chips used only in house revenue to play.) Smaller chips than this do not play even in quantity, so a player wanting action on such chips must change them up between deals. If betting is in dollar units or greater, a fraction of a dollar does not play. A player going all-in must put all chips that play into the pot.

8. A verbal statement denotes your action and is binding. If in turn you verbally declare a fold, check, bet, call, or raise, you are forced to take that action.

9. Rapping the table with your hand is a pass.

10. Deliberately acting out of turn will not be tolerated. A player who checks out of turn may not bet or raise on the next turn to act. An action or verbal declaration out of turn may be ruled binding if there is no bet, call, or raise by an intervening player acting after the infraction has been committed.

11. To retain the right to act, a player must stop the action by calling “time” (or an equivalent word). Failure to stop the action before three or more players have acted behind you may cause you to lose the right to act. You cannot forfeit your right to act if any player in front of you has not acted, only if you fail to act when it legally becomes your turn. Therefore, if you wait for someone whose turn comes before you, and three or more players act behind you, this still does not hinder your right to act.

12. A player who bets or calls by releasing chips into the pot is bound by that action. However, if you are unaware that the pot has been raised, you may withdraw that money and reconsider your action, provided that no one else has acted after you.

13. In limit poker, if you make a forward motion with chips and thus cause another player to act, you may be forced to complete your action.

14. String raises are not allowed. To protect your right to raise, you should either declare your intention verbally or place the proper amount of chips into the pot. Putting a full bet plus a half-bet or more into the pot is considered to be the same as announcing a raise, and the raise must be completed. (This does not apply in the use of a single chip of greater value.)

15. If you put a single chip in the pot that is larger than the bet, but do not announce a raise, you are assumed to have only called. Example: In a $3-$6 game, when a player bets $6 and the next player puts a $25 chip in the pot without saying anything, that player has merely called the $6 bet.

16. All wagers and calls of an improperly low amount must be brought up to proper size if the error is discovered before the betting round has been completed. This includes actions such as betting a lower amount than the minimum bring-in (other than going all-in) and betting the lower limit on an upper limit betting round. If a wager is supposed to be made in a rounded off amount, is not, and must be corrected, it shall be changed to the proper amount nearest in size. No one who has acted may change a call to a raise because the wager size has been changed.

THE SHOWDOWN

1. A player must show all cards in the hand face-up on the table to win any part of the pot.

2. Cards speak (cards read for themselves). The dealer assists in reading hands, but players are responsible for holding onto their cards until the winner is declared. Although verbal declarations as to the contents of a hand are not binding, deliberately miscalling a hand with the intent of causing another player to discard a winning hand is unethical and may result in forfeiture of the pot. (For more information on miscalling a hand see “Section 11 – Lowball,” Rule 15 and Rule 16.)

3. Any player, dealer, or floorperson who sees an incorrect amount of chips put into the pot, or an error about to be made in awarding a pot, has an ethical obligation to point out the error. Please help us keep mistakes of this nature to a minimum.

4. All losing hands will be killed by the dealer before a pot is awarded.

5. Any player who has been dealt in may request to see any hand that has been called, even if the opponent’s hand or the winning hand has been mucked. However, this is a privilege that may be revoked if abused. If a player other than the pot winner asks to see a hand that has been folded, that hand is dead. If the winning player asks to see a losing player’s hand, both hands are live, and the best hand wins.

6. If you show cards to an active player during a deal, any player at the table has the right to see those exposed cards. Cards shown during or after a deal to a player not in the pot should be shown to all players when the deal is finished.

7. If everyone checks (or is all-in) on the final betting round, the player who acted first is the first to show the hand. If there is wagering on the final betting round, the last player to take aggressive action by a bet or raise is the first to show the hand. In order to speed up the game, a player holding a probable winner is encouraged to show the hand without delay. If there is a side pot, players involved in the side pot should show their hands before anyone who is all-in for only the main pot.

TIES
1. The ranking of suits from highest to lowest is spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs. Suits never break a tie for winning a pot. Suits are used to break a tie between cards of the same rank (no redeal or redraw).

2. Dealing a card to each player is used to determine things like who moves to another table. If the cards are dealt, the order is clockwise starting with the first player on the dealer’s left (the button position is irrelevant). Drawing a card is used to determine things like who gets the button in a new game, or seating order coming from a broken game.

3. An odd chip will be broken down to the smallest unit used in the game.

4. No player may receive more than one odd chip.

5. If two or more hands tie, an odd chip will be awarded as follows:

(a) In a button game, the first hand clockwise from the button gets the odd chip.

(b) In a stud game, the odd chip will be given to the highest card by suit in all high games, and to the lowest card by suit in all low games. (When making this determination, all cards are used, not just the five cards that constitute the player’s hand.)

(c) In high-low split games, the high hand receives the odd chip in a split between the high and the low hands. The odd chip between tied high hands is awarded as in a high game of that poker form, and the odd chip between tied low hands is awarded as in a low game of that poker form. If two players have identical hands, the pot will be split as evenly as possible.

(d) All side pots and the main pot will be split as separate pots, not mixed together.

SECTION 4 – BUTTON AND BLIND USE

In button games, a non-playing dealer normally does the actual dealing. A round disk called the button is used to indicate which player has the dealer position. The player with the button is last to receive cards on the initial deal and has the right of last action after the first betting ro…