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Old 08-09-2010, 10:19 PM   #1
venice10's Avatar
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PSA: Robert's Rules of Poker


Poker is a game of rules. Whether you are aware of it or not, virtually all public poker rooms has a rule book that they use to determine how people are supposed to play and who should win. There are no universal rules in poker. A K Q J T is not necessarily the best hand in poker. In fact, it is a terrible hand in Razz, for example. It literally does mean despite what you believe: If the rules say something should happen a certain way, that's the way it will work.

Recently, there was a thread on this forum that indicated that many posters on this forum are unfamiliar with what are the common rules for poker across many poker rooms.

To be fair, it isn't too surprising. Poker rooms generally do not let players see the rule book, or make it difficult to see it. Most players are there to gamble at the low limits and figure if they know that a flush will beat a straight and they will get two cards first, then the board comes 3 cards, 1 card and 1 card, they know enough. If something comes up, either the dealer or the floor will fix it.

Sadly, that isn't true all the time. The B&M forum is littered with situations where the floor and/or dealer make a bad decision. Or they give way to someone who speaks the loudest or is a regular at the room. Without knowing what is the standard rule for a situation, you can lose hundreds of dollars.

The purpose of this thread is to educate new players to poker that there rules that are common so that they can protect themselves and others. It will also prevent one from looking foolish at a table by saying something that shows they aren't knowledgeable in the game.

Who is Bob Ciaffone?

Bob Ciaffone has been playing poker since around 1950 when he was 10 years old. He is a regular columnist in "Card Player" magazine. He has written the rule for several poker rooms and been a consultant for many others. In 1984, he begin compiling the poker rules of various poker rooms and started publishing a set of what was a best of/most common rule used. These have evolved over time to become "Robert's Rules of Poker." Version 11 is the latest and can be found below.

Several poker room managers who post on 2+2 have noted that they have used "Robert's Rules of Poker" as the baseline for their rules.

While it isn't a guarantee that the room in you play in exactly follows these rules, one can assume that these rules apply unless you know (not believe) different.

Things to Know

Rule #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." This means what it says. If the floor thinks the fair thing is to do X, it doesn't matter what another rule might say. If you are angle shooting, the floor can decide it is fair to disallow it. In practice, it also means if you are an ******* to the dealers/floor/other players, don't be surprised you lose a ruling every now and then.

Violating Poker Etiquette Can Result in You Being Removed from the Room
You don't have a (if in the US) Constitutional right to play in a poker room. If management is done with you splashing the pot, softplaying your friend, making statements that can influence the action (even if you aren't in the hand), or deliberately stalling the game, they can pick up your chips and escort you out.

I Want to See The Hand
At last count, there are 1,267,190 separate threads on 2+2 on the matter of being able to ask to see someone's hand (+ or -). You have the right to ask to see a hand at show down that was mucked in many rooms (although this is in the process of changing). However, if you are the person who was awarded the pot, do this, and the villain has a better hand, you lose the pot despite the villain mucking his hand. I'll note that the poker room has the right suspend your right if you abuse it.

One Player to a Hand
You can not give advice to a player during a hand. That includes telling a player to flip over their cards at show down. Once the cards are turned over, the hand is completed.

Cards Speak
It is everyone's responsibility to make sure that once a hand is tabled that the pot is awarded to the person with the best hand. Yes the dealer should do it correctly. However, if the dealer doesn't and you notice it, you have the responsibility to say something.

Show One, Show All
If a player active in a hand is shown someone else's cards, those card must be shown to all the players. If the cards are shown to someone who is out of the hand, the cards are show after the hand is over.


There are lots of other circumstances covered. Just like in any other activity, knowing the rules makes the game more enjoyable. Unlike most, knowing the rules can also save you money. As Mike Sexton says, "May your cards be live and your pots monsters."
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Old 08-10-2010, 12:28 PM   #2
Join Date: Aug 2010
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Re: PSA: Robert's Rules of Poker

In response to the players who don't know that "cards speak" and don't think they should speak up when a dealer makes a mistake and tries to push the pot to the non-winning hand when both hands have been properly tabled:

Suppose a player gets up to go to the restroom, and another player reaches over and takes some of the absent player's chips?
Do you speak up, or do you simply mentally make a note to make sure to protect your own chips?
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Old 08-10-2010, 02:11 PM   #3
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Join Date: May 2008
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Re: PSA: Robert's Rules of Poker

Nice post.

Some excerpts from Robert's rules on hands that get mucked inadvertently:
2. Cards thrown into the muck may be ruled dead. However, a hand that is clearly identifiable may be retrieved and ruled live at management’s discretion if doing so is in the best interest of the game. An extra effort should be made to rule a hand retrievable if it was folded as a result of incorrect information given to the player.

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


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.
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