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The following laws define correct procedure and the resolution of irregularities in Poker.
No penalties are assessed or proposed for breaches of law. A penalty can punish the offender but cannot restore the rights of a player who may have been damaged. In some cases, the players in a game decide on certain penalties to discourage persistent offenders.
The laws have three main sections: General Laws, applying to all forms of Poker; Draw Poker Laws; and Stud Poker Laws.
This section covers the pack of cards, the rank of hands, the shuffle, cut, and deal; the betting; and the showdown.Number of Players.
Poker may be played by two to 10 players and each plays for himself. No two players may play in partnership, and there may be no agreement between two or more players to divide a pot.Object of the Game.
The object of Poker is to win the pot, either by having the best Poker hand (as explained below), or by making a bet that no other player can meet.The Pack.
The standard 52-card deck is used. It consists of four suits: spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs. In each suit there are 13 cards: A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. One or more jokers may be added to the pack. Each joker is a wild card.Wild Cards.
A joker or any other card or class of cards may be designated as wild by any of the following methods. The method must be selected in advance by the players in the game.
1) The wild card may be designated by its holder to represent any other card that its holder does not have.
2) The joker (in this case called the bug) may be designated by its holder to represent a fifth ace or any card needed to complete a straight, a flush, or any special hand such as a dog, cat and so on.
3) Any wild card may represent any other card, whether or not the holder of the wild card also has the card designated. (This permits double- or even triple-ace-high flushes, and the like). A wild card, properly designated, ranks exactly the same as a natural card.Rank of Cards.
A (high) K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. The Ace is low only in the sequence 5, 4, 3, 2, A. Optional: the ace may rank low in Low Poker (Lowball) or in High-Low Poker when, by agreement, the ace is designated as low.
In Low Poker, the ace is always low, so that two aces is a lower pair than two 2s (deuces).
In High-Low Poker, the holder must designate the relative rank of the ace at the time that he shows his hand in the showdown, for example, by saying "aces high" (in which case two aces beats two kings for high), or "aces low" (in which case, two aces beats two 2s for low but loses to two 2s for high).
In any pot to be won by the high hand, the ranking goes from ace down to two so that, for example, 7, 6, 4, 3, 2 beats 7, 5, 4, 3, 2.Seating.
Players take seats at random unless any player requests before the game begins that the seats of the respective players be determined as provided in the next paragraph.
When any player requests a reseating, the banker has first choice of seats. The first dealer may either take the seat to left of the banker or participate with the other players in having his position determined by chance as follows: the dealer shuffles the pack, has the cards cut by the player on his right and deals one card, face up, to each player, beginning with the player to his left. The player dealt the highest-ranking card sits to the right of the banker, the player with the next-highest card at the right of that player, and so on. If two players are dealt cards of the same rank, the card dealt first ranks higher.
After the game begins, no player may request a reseating unless at least one hour has elapsed since the last reseating. A player entering the game after it begins must take any vacant seat. A player replacing another player must take the seat that player vacated. Two players may exchange seats after any showdown and before the next deal begins, provided no other player objects.
When there is no banker, the dealer has first choice of seats.The Shuffle and Cut.
Any player on request may shuffle the pack before the deal. The pack should be shuffled at least three times in all, by one or more players. The dealer has the right to shuffle last and should shuffle the pack at least once.
The dealer offers the shuffled pack to his right-hand opponent, who may cut it or not as he pleases. (When two packs are used, the dealer offers the pack to the left-hand opponent.) If this player does not cut, any other player may cut. If more than one player requests the right to cut, the one nearest the dealer's right cuts. Except in case of an irregularity that calls for a new cut, the pack is cut only once.
The player who cuts divides the pack into two or three portions. No portion can contain fewer than five cards. He completes the cut by placing the packet that was originally on the bottom on top. (If a card is exposed during a cut, the pack must be shuffled by the dealer and cut again.)The Deal.
At the start of the game, any player shuffles the pack and deals the cards face up, one at a time to each player beginning with the player on his left, until a jack is turned up. The player to whom the jack is dealt is the first dealer. Thereafter, the turn to deal passes from each player to the player on his left. A player may not voluntarily pass his turn to deal.
The dealer distributes the cards from the top of the pack, one card at a time to each player beginning with the player on his left and ending with himself.Rank of Hands.
Poker hands rank, from highest to lowest:Straight Flush.
Five cards of the same suit in sequence. The highest straight flush is A, K, Q, J, 10 of the same suit, called a royal flush. The lowest straight flush is 5, 4, 3, 2, A of the same suit. When there are two straight flushes in the same game, the one headed by the highest card wins. When any card has been designated as wild, a straight flush loses to five of a kind, which is the highest possible hand.Four of a Kind.
Four cards of the same rank. This hand loses to a straight flush but beats any other Poker hand. If two players have four of a kind, the four higher-ranking cards win. When there are wild cards, it is possible for two players to hold four of a kind of the same rank. In this case, the winning hand is the one with the higher-ranking fifth card.Full House.
Three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank. When two hands each have a full house, the one with the higher-ranking three of a kind is the winner. When there are wild cards, two players may have full houses in which the three of a kind holdings are the same rank; the higher of the pairs then determines the winning hand.Flush.
Five cards of the same suit. If two players have a flush, the one containing the highest card wins. If the highest cards are of the same rank, the higher of the next-highest cards determines the winning hand, and so on; so that A, K, 4, 3, 2 beats A, Q, J, 10, 8 and J, 9, 8, 6, 4 beats J, 9, 8, 6, 3.Straight.
Five cards, in two or more suits, ranking consecutively as 8, 7, 6, 5, 4. The ace is high in the straight A, K, Q, J, 10 and low in the straight 5, 4, 3, 2, A. If there are two or more straights, the one containing the highest card wins, so that 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 beats 5, 4, 3, 2, A.Three of a Kind.
Three cards of the same rank. If there are two or more hands each containing three of a kind, the one with the higher-ranking three of a kind wins. When there are wild cards, there may be two hands containing identical threes of a kind. In that case, the highest-ranking unmatched card determines the winner. If these cards are of the same rank, the higher-ranking fifth card in each hand determines the winner.Two Pairs.
Two cards of one rank and two cards of another rank, with an unmatched fifth card. If two or more hands each contain two pairs, the one with the highest pair wins. If the higher pairs are of the same rank, the one with the higher-ranking second pair wins. If these pairs are also of the same rank, the hand containing the higher of the unmatched cards is the winner.One Pair.
Two cards of the same rank, with three un-matched cards. If there are two or more one-pair hands, the one containing the higher pair wins. If two hands contain pairs of the same rank, the highest unmatched card determines the winner; if these are the same, the higher of the second-highest unmatched cards wins, and if these are the same, the higher of the lowest unmatched cards wins. For example, 8, 8, 9, 5, 3 beats 8, 8, 9, 5, 2.
No Pair. This loses to any hand having a pair or any higher-ranking combination. If there are two no-pair hands, the hand with the highest card wins; if these two cards are tied, the next-highest card decides, and so on, so that A, 8, 7, 4, 3 loses to A, 9, 7, 4, 3 but wins from A, 8, 7, 4, 2.
Two hands that are identical, card for card, are tied since the suits have no relative rank in Poker.Betting.
All the chips bet go into the center of the table to form a pot. The winner keeps the the pot.
The Ante. In many games, each player puts an equal amount of chips into the pot before any cards are dealt. This is called the ante. The amount of the ante is agreed upon before the game or is determined by the dealer.Opening.
After the deal, the beginning player announces whether he will pass, bet, or drop (throw in his cards). If a player drops, he loses any chips he has in the pot. If he passes and every player in turn, including the dealer, passes, there is a new deal by the next player on the left and the ante (if any) is repeated. If he bets, he is the first to bet, called "opening," and puts the number of chips he is betting into the pot. Next, each player in turn must either, check, call, raise or drop. Sequence of Play.
In each betting interval, the turn to bet begins with the player designated by the rules of the Poker version being played and moves to each active player on the left. No player may open, check, call, raise, or drop, except in his proper turn. A player may neither pass nor bet until the player on his right has put the correct number of chips into the pot or has dropped.
In Draw Poker, the first in turn before the draw is the player on the dealer's left. The first in turn after the draw is the player who made the first bet before the draw or, if he has dropped, the player on his left.
In Stud Poker, the first in each betting interval is the player whose exposed cards are higher than those of any other player. If two or more players have identical high holdings, the player on the dealer's left is first.Check.
Unless a bet has been made in that betting interval, an active player in turn may check, which means that he elects to remain an active player without betting. In some variations of Poker, checking is specifically prohibited.
If any player bets, each active player in turn after him (including players who checked originally) must either, call, raise, or drop.Call.
A call is a bet equal to the previous bet, that is, a matching number of chips. This amount must include any raises made during this betting interval. For example, a bet of five is "called" by the next player (also betting five); the next player "raises" two (betting seven). Any bet by the next player must be seven to call or more than seven to raise.Raise.
A raise is a bet greater than the previous bet. Fold or Drop.
A player in turn may drop even when he has the privilege of checking. Any time that a player discards his hand, or permits it to be mixed with any discard, he has dropped, and his hand may not be reclaimed.The Showdown.
When each player has either called the highest previous bet without raising or has dropped; or when every active player has checked; the full hand of every active player is placed face up on the table, and the highest-ranking hand wins the pot. If two or more hands tie for the highest rank, they divide the pot evenly, any odd chip going to the player who last bet or raised.
It is customary for a player to announce the value of his hand. When there are wild cards, he must announce the value of his hand and may then claim no higher hand. Whenever only one active player remains because all other players have dropped, the remaining player wins the pot without showing his hand, and there is a new deal by the next dealer in turn. Irregularities Redeal.
Any player, unless he has intentionally seen the face of any card dealt to him face down, may call for a new shuffle, cut, and deal by the same dealer if, before the dealer begins dealing the second round of cards:
1) A card was exposed in cutting
2) The cut left fewer than five cards in either packet
3) Two or more cards are face up in the pack
4) The pack is incorrect or imperfect in any way
5) A player is dealing out of turn.
If a player is dealing out of turn, and a redeal is called, the deal reverts to the proper player in turn. In a game in which every player antes, no one need ante again. Any other bet is left in the pot. If no redeal or misdeal is called within a time limit provided, the deal stands, and the player on the left of the out-of-turn dealer will be the next dealer.Misdeal.
A misdeal due to the dealer's error loses the deal if attention is drawn to it by a player who has not intentionally seen any face-down card dealt to him. The deal passes to the next player in turn. The misdealer's ante is forfeited to the pot. If all players have anted equally, their antes remain in the pot and no one need ante again. A blind bet or raise may be withdrawn.
A misdeal may be called by any player who has not intentionally seen any face-down card dealt to him:
1) If before the dealer begins the second round of cards he notices that the pack was not shuffled or offered for cut
2) By any player who receives two face-up cards in Draw Poker or any other form of closed Poker, provided he calls a misdeal immediately and has not contributed to the error
3) If the dealer gives too many cards to more than one player.
If the dealer mistakenly stops dealing before giving every player enough cards, due solely to his omission to deal one or more rounds, it is not a misdeal and the dealer is required to complete the deal whenever the irregularity is discovered. For example, if the dealer stops dealing after giving each player only four cards; or if the dealer gives the first five of seven players five cards each and the sixth and seventh players only four cards each, it is not a misdeal.
If the dealer deals too many hands, he shall determine which hand is dead, and that hand is discarded; but if any player has looked at any face-down card in any hand, he must keep that hand.
If the dealer deals too few hands, he must give his hand to the first omitted player to his left. Any other player who has been omitted and who has anted may withdraw his ante.Exposed Card.
If the dealer exposes one or more cards from the undealt portion of the pack after the deal is completed, those cards are dead and are placed among the discards. There is no penalty against any player for exposing any part of his hand, and he has no redress. A player who interferes with the deal and causes the dealer to expose a card may not call a misdeal.Incorrect Pack.
If it is determined, at any time before the pot has been taken in, that the pack has too many cards, too few cards, or duplicate cards, the deal is void; and each player withdraws from the pot any chips he contributed to it, any other laws of the game to the contrary notwithstanding; but the results of pots previously taken in are not affected.Imperfect Pack.
If the pack contains any card that is torn, discolored, or otherwise marked so it can be identified from the back, the pack must be replaced before the deal in progress or any other deal can be completed; but the play of the hand in progress is not affected if the deal has been completed.Incorrect Hand.
A hand having more or less than the correct number of cards in the Poker variation being played is foul and cannot win the pot. If every other player has dropped, the pot remains and goes to the winner of the next pot. Players may agree that a hand with fewer cards is not foul, in which case its holder may compete for the pot with the best poker combination he can make.Irregularities in Betting.
Chips once put in the pot may not be withdrawn except by a player who, after he has anted, is dealt out; or in jackpots, when another player has opened without proper openers (see False Openers p. 86); in Draw Poker, by the players who opened or raised blind, in case of a misdeal; or in Stud Poker, when the dealer has failed to deal a player any card face down.Installment or String Bets.
A player's entire bet must be put in the pot at one time. Having put in some number of chips, he may not add to that number unless the original number was insufficient to call, in which case he may add exactly enough chips to call. If, however, he announced before putting in any chips that he was raising by a certain amount and puts in an amount insufficient for such a raise, he must on demand supply enough additional chips to equal the announced amount of his bet.Insufficient Bet.
When a player in turn puts into the pot a number of chips insufficient to call, he must either add enough chips to call and may not raise, or he must drop and forfeit his chips already in the pot. When a player raises by less than the minimum permitted, he is deemed to have called, and any additional chips he put into the pot are forfeited to it.Bet Above Limit.
If a player puts in the pot more chips than are permitted by the limit, it stands as a bet of the limit and additional chips are forfeited to the pot. An exception is made in table stakes when a player's bet exceeds the number of chips an opponent has. In that event, the player may withdraw the excess and either bet it in a side pot, or, if no other players are willing or able to meet that bet in the side pot, restore those chips to his stack.Announcement in Turn of Intention to Pass or Bet.
If a player in turn announces that he passes or drops, his announcement is binding whether or not he discards his hand. If a player in turn announces a bet but does not put any chips in the pot, he is bound by his announcement and must, if possible, supply additional chips necessary to bring the bet up to the announced amount.Announcement Out of Turn of Intention to Pass or Bet.
If a player out of turn announces his intention to pass or drop when his turn comes, and then, does not actually discard his hand, or to make a certain bet but does not actually put any chips in the pot, his announcement is void; and he may take any action he chooses when his turn comes. Any other player who acts in reliance upon the announcement does so at his own risk and has no redress.Bet Out of Turn.
If a player puts any chips in the pot out of turn, they remain there, and the play reverts to the player whose turn it was. If any player to the offender's left puts chips in the pot, he has bet out of turn and is equally an offender. When the offender's turn comes, if the chips he put in were insufficient to call, the player may add enough chips to call. If the amount was exactly sufficient to call, he is deemed to have called. If the amount was more than enough to call, the player is deemed to have raised by the amount of the excess but cannot add chips to increase the amount of his raise. If no player before him has bet, he is deemed to have bet the number of chips he put in and any amount above the agreed limit is forfeited to the pot. If the chips he put in were insufficient to call, he may forfeit these chips and drop. However, the player may never add chips to raise or to increase his raise.Pass Out of Turn.
The pass (act of dropping) out of turn is among the most damaging of Poker improprieties, but there is no penalty except by prior agreement of the players. In any case, the offender's hand is dead and he cannot win the pot.Irregularities in the Showdown.
If a player in the showdown announces a hand he does not actually hold, the announcement is void if the error is discovered before the pot has been taken in by any player (including the player who miscalled his hand). "The cards speak for themselves."Designation of Wild Cards.
If, in the showdown, a player orally designates the suit or rank of a wild card in his hand, or implies such designation by announcing a certain hand, he may not change that designation (for example, an announcement of joker J, 10, 9, 8 as "jack-high straight" fixes the joker as a seven). A player may always show his hand without announcement and need not designate the value of a wild card unless another active player requests that he do so.Concession of a Pot.
A player who has discarded his hand after another player's announcement of a higher hand may not later claim the pot - even if the announcement was incorrect.