Poker tournament rules

Last update : 2010-11-02

  1. The Tournament

    1. Invitational only
      All participants are joining the tournament by invitation only. We do not allow ‘show-ups’ to participate.
    2. Buy-in Amount
      The buy-in amount and associated number of tournament chips shall be the same for every player. $15 in cash will buy 2000 tournament chips. All moneys must be paid prior to the start of the tournament. Example: Players may not receive half the number of tournament chips for half of the buy-in amount. So everybody will have the same odds.
    3. Re-buys
      Re-buys are allowed allowed if advertised in the tournament announcement. Re-buys will be limited to one per person, need to take place in the first 2 hours of play, and need to be purchased immeadiatly after knockout. No player is allowed to miss a hand.
    4. Add-ons
      Add-ons are not allowed.
    5. Payouts
      The approximate payout structure shall be clearly indicated before the beginning of the tournament. The final payout structure may be modified due to re-buys or late players increasing the pot. All moneys paid will be placed into the pot, and distributed over the winning players.
    6. Table and Seat Assignment
      Table and seat assignments will be decided randomly.
    7. Dealer Button Assignment
      Players at a table shall draw for the button. When two players have the highest card, the Spade will win, followed by Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs (reversed alphabetical order).
    8. Language
      The English-only rule will be enforced during the play of hands. Also please watch your language.
    9. Cellphones
      Players may not talk on the phone while at the poker table, either step away or hangup.
    10. Calling for a clock
      Once a reasonable amount of time has passed and a clock is called for, a player will be given a maximum of one minute to make a decision. If action has not been taken before time expires, there will be a 10-second countdown. If a player has not acted by the time the countdown is over, the player's hand will be dead.
  2. Tournament Progression

    1. Switching Tables (Imbalanced tables)
      As players are eliminated, tables may become imbalanced. If this happens, a player from a larger table will be shifted to a smaller table. The shifted player should sit in the same position as the old table. Typically the player who will be the big blind in the next hand will be moved to get the big blind on the other table. This means that a table can be imbalanced for a couple of hands until the big blind reaches the empty seat. This can mean that the tables get balanced again automatically by elimination on the larger table. Tables need to have a difference of at least 2 players, and have less than 5 players or more than 8 players to become imbalanced.
    2. Combining Tables
      When two or more tables are combined into one, the seat selection and button placement will proceed as if it were a new game. This will happen when both tables combined can fill one table (10 players).
    3. Changing Seats at the Same Table
      Players may not change seats at the same table. Exceptions can be made when all players on the table and the tournament director agree.
    4. Chip race / Color up
      The lowest denomination of chips in play will be removed from the table when it is no longer needed in the blind structure. When it is time to color-up chips, they will be raced off with a maximum of one chip going to any player. The chip race will always start in the No.1 seat. A player cannot be raced out of a tournament: a player who loses his or her remaining chip(s) in a chip race will be given one chip of the smallest denomination still in play. Players are encouraged to witness the chip race.
    5. Deck
      The deck is not changed on request, unless there is a damaged card. The deck will be changed at the discrection of the director.
    6. Late Players
      Late players are responsible for all small and large blinds missed before they joined the game. Without this rule, they have potentially gained an advantage by arriving late. Chip stacks for players who arrive late will be placed on the table, and small & big blind will be taken from their stacks, and their hands folded (except when going all in).  An effort will be made to locate such a player, and if unable to locate such a player, the chip stack might be removed from the tournament by the director.
    7. Unsold seats
      Unsold seats will have a chip stack, and blinds will be taken from their stacks. If the seat remains empty, the stacks will be removed by the director.
    8. Money in View
      Every player at the table has the right to know how much money every other player at the table has in play. All money in play shall be in full view at all times, especially the higher denominations.
  3. Blinds and the Button

    We will play with two blinds. The player to the left of the button will post the small blind. The player to the left of the small blind will post the big blind. The small blind will constitute one-third to half of the big blind.
    Blinds will rise at periodic intervals throughout the evening to ensure that the tournament ends in a reasonable amount of time. The schedule for blind progression will be decided upon before the tournament and can be changed by the tournament director so adjust the estimated playing time.
    1. Absent player
      An absent player (late, unsold seat, potty break or OUT) is always dealt a hand, and will be put up for blinds. A player must be present at the table when the other players have their starting hands. When a player is not present, and it is their turn for action, the table will wait 60 seconds before killing their hand (folding it). Off course common sense needs to be used here if the player went to the restroom etc.  When a players hand is killed, the player is marked as OUT. When a player is marker OUT, all hands can be killed (folded) immediately when it’s their turn. When a player returns, he/she can remove the OUT button.
    2. Dead Button (Small Blind bust out)
      If the small blind busts out and is not replaced by a player from another table; the button moves to the now empty seat (the seat vacated by the eliminated small blind). The player, who was the big blind, will now post the small blind.
    3. Dead Button (Big Blind bust out)
      If the big blind busts out and not replaced by a player from another table, the button moves to the player who was the small blind, the player to the left of the eliminated player will now post the big blind. For this hand there will be no small blind posted.  On the next hand, the button will move to the empty seat,
    4. Dead Button (Small Blind & Big Blind bust out)
      If the small blind and the big blind busts out and it not replaced by players from another table, the button moves to the now empty seat (the seat vacated by the eliminated small blind). The player, who is sitting next to the eliminated big blind, will now post the big blind. The next hand, the button will move to next empty seat, and the 2 players on the left of the button will post their blinds.
    5. Head’s Up Play
      In head's-up play, the small blind shall be posted by the player with the button and the large blind by the other player. The player who does not have the button shall be dealt the first card, and shall be the first to act on all betting rounds except the initial round. On the initial betting round, because the big blind in effect has already acted, the player on the button who has posted the small blind shall be first to act. When beginning heads-up play, the button may need to be adjusted to ensure no player takes the big blind twice in a row.
  4. Betting Structures No-Limit Hold’em

    There is no limit on the amount a player met bet up to everything he has in front of him. There is no limit on the number of raises in any betting round. Except for a player going all-in, all bets must be for no less than the minimum bring-in designated for the structure. Further, all raises must be equal to or greater than the size of the previous bet or raise on that round, except when making an all-in wager.
  5. Betting

    1. Acting in Turn
      A player shall act on his hand when it is his turn and only when it is his turn. Acting out of turn gives some players an advantage at the expense of other players.
    2. Splashing the Pot
      When placing chips in the pot, a player shall place them in front of him so that there is no confusion as to who placed the chips in the pot and the amount of the chips. This enables all other players at the table to know who has made what action, and enables the dealer to always be aware that the correct number of chips is in the pot. The dealer is in charge of scooping all bets into the pot.
    3. Action out of Turn
      A player who makes action out of turn shall be held to that action when it is his turn, unless intervening action changes the action the out-of-turn actor is facing. If a player checks or bets out of turn he may not then change his action when the action comes to him in turn. If a player checks out of turn he must check when it comes to him. If a player bets out of turn he must bet when the action comes to him. If a player calls out of turn and a player in between the better and the caller raises then the calling player may have the option to act on his hand as if he had not acted out of turn.
    4. Oversized Chip or Bill
      If when responding to action a player puts a single chip or bill in the pot that is larger than the bet, but does not announce a raise, he shall be deemed to have only called. Putting a single chip or bill in the pot with a denomination larger than the bet itself is only a call unless a raise is announced.
    5. Verbal Declarations of Action
      In Turn: A verbal declaration of action is binding if when it is a player's turn to act he announces a fold, check, bet, call, or raise. The player shall be held to that action to the exclusion of all other actions. Out of Turn: A player who makes a verbal declaration of action out of turn shall be held to that action when it is his turn, unless intervening action changes the action the out-of-turn actor is facing, in which case the player may act on his hand as if he had made no declaration.
    6. String Raises
      Chips should be placed in the pot in a single hand motion. A player who places chips in the pot shall not return to his stack to raise more chips, as this shall constitute a string raise, which is expressly prohibited. To protect the right to raise; regardless of the number of chips in hand, a player shall either declare his intention to raise or place the proper amount of chips in the pot. So when doing a raise, tell how much you raise, get the chips and move them on the table. Placing a full bet plus a half bet or more into the pot shall be deemed a raise, and the raise must be completed. Putting more chips in the pot than a full bet, but less than a bet and a half shall be deemed a call, and a player who does this shall not be permitted to raise the pot. Note again that placing an oversized chip in the pot without declaring one's intention constitutes a call.
    7. Motions Constituting a Check or Raise
      The dealer and other players shall have the right to rely on a player's hand motions. Any tapping of the table or other hand signal that the dealer might reasonably construe to be a check shall be deemed a check. A player who makes an upward motion with his hand, a thumbs-up signal or other signal that might be reasonably construed by the dealer to indicate a raise shall be deemed a raise.
    8. All-in
      All hands will be turned face up whenever a player is all-in and betting action is complete.
      A player who declares all in and loses the pot, then discovers that one or more chips were hidden, is not entitled to benefit from this. That player is eliminated from the tournament if the opponent had sufficient chips to cover the hidden ones (A re-buy is okay if allowable by the rules of that event). If another deal has not yet started, the director may rule the chips belong to the opponent who won that pot, if that obviously would have happened with the chips out in plain view. If the next deal has started, the discovered chips are removed from the tournament.
  6. Player Conduct

    1. Commentary/Inadvertently taking away someone’s advantage
      At no time should any player or non-player make comments on a hand which may aid one or more players. Examples of unacceptable comments include:
      • Folding before the flop, and then proclaiming upon seeing the flop, “Rats, I should’ve stayed in the hand.” – In this example, that player just gave information to the other players regarding what cards he may have held, and potentially taken away someone’s advantage.
      • Upon seeing the full board, exclaiming, “Wow, a 7-2 looks pretty good now.” – That person has just pointed something out to players who may otherwise not have noticed and thereby potentially taken away someone’s advantage.
      • Upon seeing the board, announcing, “Two spades makes a flush!” – In this case, a player may have thought he had the nuts with three of a kind, and now he realizes that someone else could actually beat him.
      • Upon seeing the board, exclaiming, “Wow, there are a ton of different ways to have a really good hand!”
      • Upon seeing the board, announcing, “There’s no way that anyone can have a straight or flush.”
      • Upon seeing the board, announcing, “Looks like three of a kind is the best possible hand.”
      A common response to this guideline might be, “I’m only pointing out what is obvious to everyone.” A) In many cases, it actually wasn’t obvious to those involved in the hand because they are concentrating on their hand. B) If it’s obvious, then it doesn’t need to be said. The only exception to this rule is when two players are involved in heads up play. Those two players, and only those two players, may use whatever techniques they wish to win the hand. If they make a comment, they can only hurt themselves.
    2. Cordiality
      • Be Polite
      • Do not swear or be verbally abusive
      • Be modest when you win
      • Refrain from criticizing the play from other players. (Unless he calls your 20.000 bet with a 7-2 unsuited, then it’s ok)
      • Do not hit on another player, the dealer, other people or animals in the house no matter how attractive you find them.
      • Be kind to the dealer, good karma brings good cards
    3. Table presence
      • Manage your space reasonable
      • Keep your chips on the table (Anything that hits the floor is fair game)
      • Do not handle chips or cards from other players. (In fact, don’ handle anything of another player)
      • Do not stack chips in a way that they interfere with the deal, viewing of cards, or another player.
      • Chips are not to be transferred from player to player
      •  Protect your cards so nobody else can see them
      • Keep your cards on the table; do not hold them against your shirt or on your lap. Keep them on the table.
      • It’s proper for an opponent to complain when a player consistently has the opportunity to see the cards from another player. (It is improper to complain when someone exercises this right).
      • If you step away from the table, please advise the dealer of your intentions. (So get a drink, potty break, etc.)
    4. Play
      • Play at a reasonable speed
      • It is each player’s responsibility to follow the flow of the game. Play in turn and do not act out of turn.
      • At no time should any player or spectator make statements that could unfairly influence the play of a hand.
      • Do not comment about the cards you just threw away
      • Refrain from comments about possible hands (except when playing head to head)
    5. Betting
      • Do not splash the pot (that way everybody can see how much you bet)
      • Do not string bet
      • Verbally announce your action
      • When discarding your hand, send them towards the dealer in such a way that no players can see them
      • Do not expose your cards until showdown (except when playing head to head, if you want to show your cards, show them).
    6. Show Down
      • Do not miss-declare your hand
      • Show your winning hand quickly
      • Rabbit hunting (asking to see what cards would have appeared, had you bet) is discouraged.
      • Mucking and accidently mucking your hand, immeadiatly discards your hand.
    7. Integrity
      • Every player must act in their own self-interest. Do not soft play any other player(s).
      • Agreeing to check down a hand after a player has gone all-in is not allowed
      • Coffee-housing (speaking during a hand for strategic purposes) is allowed but please excercize restraint.
      • Asking to see called hands unnecessarily is bad manners, a waste of time, and is generally bad for the game.
  7. Winning the Pot

    A player wins the pot either through an unmatched raise/bet or a showdown.
    1. Order of Showdown
      Upon completion of action on the final betting round, the dealer shall ask the players to show their hands. If more than one player contests a pot through the final betting round, the pot will be awarded to the best hand pursuant to the rules of the game upon a showdown of hands. If there has been a bet but no raise on the final betting round, then the player who made the bet shall show his hand first, followed by other players still contesting the pot, in clockwise rotation. If there has been a bet and raise or multiple raises on the final betting round, then the person who made the final raise shall show his hand first. If there has been no bet on the final round then the showdown begins with the player who had the obligation of first action on the final betting round--the player under the gun in draw and board games or the player with the highest board in stud games.
    2. Cards Speak
      A hand that is turned over at the showdown is ranked according to the cards that are in it. If the hand is turned over then an incorrect assessment of a hand's rank or a verbal concession is not binding at showdown.
    3. Tied Hands
      In the case of one or more tied hands at the showdown, the pot shall be divided accordingly proportionately, with odd chips allocated as set forth in the next section. Suits shall in no way influence awarding any part of a pot.
    4. Odd Chip
      In all games where dividing the pot results in an odd-chip when the pot is split the odd chip--In increments of the minimum betting unit-will go to the player with the high hand, if mulitple players have the high hand, the odd chip will go to the player in the least advantageous position (the player closest to the left of the dealer button).
    5. Showdown with Side Pots
      If one or more players are all-In in a multi-way contested pot, then the side Pots shall be awarded first. If there is one all-In player eligible for the main pot only then he shall show his hand last. If there are multiple side pots then those participating for the last side pot shall show their hands down first, followed by those involved in the next-to-last side pot, etc., until the main pot is awarded.
    6. Playing the board
      A player must show both cards when playing the board.
    7. Disputed pots
      The right to dispute a hand ends when a new hand begins.
  8. Dealing

    1. Who Deals?
      Before players are eliminated from the game, the dealing is done by the player with the button. After the first player is eliminated, he becomes the permanent dealer until the second player is eliminated, and so on. When a permanent dealer is present, room shall be made in the center position of the table, so dealing can be done efficiently.
    2. How to deal
      • First make sure that the cards are shuffled
      • Let the player before the dealer button cut the deck
      • Make sure that the small blind and big blind are on the table
      • Make sure that when you’re dealing, that you don’t expose any cards (including the bottom card). One way is simply place the deck on the table.
      • Place the 1st card from the top of the deck on the table (Burn card) (This is the choice of the dealer, he can do this or chooses not to do this)
      • Start dealing one card to the left side of the dealer button, and go around the table so every chip stack has 2 cards, (dealing also to players who temporary left the table).
      • Wait until 1st round of betting is complete, take all folded hands & move all chips into the pot.
      • Burn the 1st card and count 3 cards from the deck and flip these over on the table.
      • Wait until 2nd round of betting is complete, take the folded cards and move all chips to the pot
      • Burn the 1st card, and place the next card next to the flop.
      • Wait until 3rd round of betting is complete, take the folded cards and move all chips to the pot
      • Burn the 1st card, and place the next card next to the 4 other cards.
      • Wait until 4th round of betting is complete, take the folded cards and move all chips to the pot
      • Tell the remaining players to turn their cards over for showdown.
      • Look at all the cards and declare a winner. 
    3. Basic Dealer Procedures
      Beyond the shuffle, cut and deal the dealer is responsible to maintain the game as quickly and efficiently as possible. The dealer shall make sure that all pre-deal money (blinds and antes) is posted. The dealer shall prompt players to act when it is their turn, and when necessary to act in turn. The dealer shall make sure the proper amount of money goes into the pot. The dealer shall ensure that all proper procedures are followed, especially regarding showdown and awarding the pot. If a player Splashes the pot the dealer shall verify that the correct number of chips have been placed in the pot and push them back in front of the player who has made the action so that they are clearly distinguishable from the pot and from chips placed in the pot by other players. The dealer shall not scoop until he has verified that each player has placed the proper number of chips in the pot and received proper change from the pot. Players shall never make their own change from the pot or from other players' bets.
  9. Dealer errors

    1. Hole card is exposed
      • When the first or second hole-card is exposed; a misdeal will result. The dealer will retrieve the cards, reshuffle, cut, and re-deal
      • When any other hole card is exposed, the dealer will retrieve the card, give a new card to the player and continue dealing. The exposed card will be used as a burn card for the flop.
      • When more then one card is exposed during the deal, a misdeal will be declared, reshuffle, cut and re-deal.
    2. Flop is shown before betting is complete
      When the flop is shown before betting is complete, the flop will be placed back into the deck (the burn card remains on the table), and the dealer can deal a new flop without burning a card.
    3. Failed to burn a card before flop, turn or river
      If the dealer failed to burn a card before the flop, turn or river, the card (the first card of the flop) will be shown to all players and discarded (taking the place of the burn card), the next card will take it’s place as first card of the flop.
    4. 4th or 5th card is shown before betting is complete
      If the dealer turns up the 4th or 5th card before the betting round is complete, the card is taken out of play for that round, even when subsequent players elect to fold. The betting is then completed. The dealer burns and turns what would have been the fifth card in the fourth card’s place. After this round, the dealer takes the card which was taken out of play, reshuffles the deck and turns the final card without burning a card. (Do not put the burned card back in the deck).
    5. If the 5th card is turned up prematurely, the deck is reshuffled and dealt in the same manner.
    6. Misdeals
      • First or second card have been dealt face up
      • Two or more cards have been exposed by the dealer
      • Two or more extra cards have been dealt by the dealer
      • An incorrect number of cards have been dealt to a player
      • Any card has been dealt out of the proper sequence
      • The button was out of position
      • The first card was dealt to the wrong position
      • A player has been dealt out who is entitled to a hand
  10. Tournament Anomalies

    1. Two or More Players Eliminated on the Same Hand
      The player who had the better hand finishes higher than the player who had the lower hand. If the hands are the same, the player with the higher chip stack (at the start of this hand) will finish higher.