Texas Hold'em Poker Tournament Rules
While the rules for how Texas Hold'em Poker Tournaments are played for free can vary depending on the bar, restaurant or other establishment where you go to play, generally the rules are pretty much standard. It's always a good idea to become somewhat familiar with how the game is played before sitting down with other people at the table, so for example, you don't slow the game down so much that it becomes uncomfortable for the other players. To help you familiarize yourself with the rules, here are the rules as distributed at a game played in a bar in Prior Lake, Minnesota.
Las Vegas Poker League Rules
LVPL Rules for Tournament Play.
1. Tournament Director (TD) has full authority to enforce rules, refuse player entry and/or disqualify any player in violation of these rules. TD can alter any tournament in a fair manner. All decisions a TD makes are final.
2. All players start with an equal amount of chips. Chips have no cash value.
3. Players arriving late, during first round, will have their chips "Blinded in", (or $100?) according to their position at the table. After 1st "Blind raise, late players will forfeit 1/3 their chips.
4. Table and players seating will be assigned by drawing seat button.
5. Players take turns dealing. The first person to deal is decided by "high card draw." Spread the cards, face down, on the table. Everyone pick a card, highest card picked = "high card draw."
6. A timer is set for 15 minutes for one tournament format, and 13 minutes for a two tournament format. TD may increase blinds by 1 - 2 minutes, but never decrease the standard minutes per blind without prior approval from supervisor. (Establishment management discretion may apply). At the end of each time slot "Blinds" must go up according to our blind structure, never skip a blind!
7. When a player is out of chips, they are out of the tournament. Play continues until one player amasses all the chips.
8. 1st seat left of dealer is the Small Blind and has a mandatory bet. (1/2 Big Blind.) 2nd seat left of dealer is the Big Blind and has a mandatory bet (The Blind at that time).
9. Cards are dealt face down - Two cards to each player (This is your "POCKET" or "HOLE" cards).
10. 3rd seat, 4th seat from dealer, and so on, have these three choices:
- 1st. Fold (Sit out this hand).
- 2nd. Call (putting in amount of Blind to play).
- 3rd. Raise (Raise must at least equal Big Blind amount or previous bet, or raise which ever is larger.
11. Action returns to 1st seat (Small Blind) they can FOLD, CALL, or RAISE. If a Raise was made prior to turn, 1st seat can Fold, Call or RE-RAISE.
12. Action returns to 2nd seat (Big Blind) if no Raises were made they are automatically in hand and can 'CHECK" or Raise. If a Raise was made prior to turn, 2nd seat can Fold, Call or Re-raise.
13. If any Raises were made during the round each player must Call or Re-raise to continue playing the hand.
14. Any raise must be at least the big blind, the last bet, or last legal raise in that round, whichever is larger.
15. The next card from the deck is not dealt but "BURNED". This means it is placed face down in the "MUCK" pile. Burning the card MUST NOT be done until after all of the betting for that round is done.
16. The next 3 cards are dealt face up. This is the "FLOP" and is the first 3 of 5 "COMMUNITY CARDS".
17. Use the Community Cards to complete the best possible hand.
18. A round of betting follows starting with the 1st seat left of dealer. Minimum bets equal the Big Blind.
19. The next card in the deck is burned. Again, burning the card MUST NOT be done until after all of the betting for that round is done.
20. The next card is dealt face up; this is called the "TURN", followed by a round of betting.
21. Top card is Burned. Again, burning the card MUST NOT be done until after all of the betting for that round is done.
22. The next card is dealt face up; this is called the "RIVER", followed by a round of betting.
23. After final round of betting, players in hand must show cards to claim the pot. Best possible 5-card combination wins. "CARDS ON TABLE SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES". Any hand mucked face down represents a forfeited hand, player folds.
24. If only one player remains in hand they do not have to show cards.
25. When a player folds, their cards are placed in a muck pile. Dealer should try to secure mucked cards in a orderly fashion to reduce confusion. No one else should touch the muck pile. If at any time a player's Pocket cards touch the muck pile their cards are dead and become "mucked." Player is out of the hand. Exception: If a player's cards are still live and they are flipped face up for a showdown, or to reveal players hand, and unintentionally touch mucked cards they are still live. The act, or motion, of how the cards were flipped face up will indicate the players intention. Table census may apply.
26. How the deal moves if the small blind or the big blind is eliminated from tournament;
- If small blind is eliminated, the previous dealer still deals, because of self dealt tournament format, but is technically a dead button. Blinds more to the left accordingly.
- If big blind is eliminated, the small blind, as always, will become the dealer. The player immediately left of the player eliminated becomes the big blind and there is no small blind. On the next hand, the deal stays with the dealer, the big blind becomes the small blind, and the player to the left becomes the big blind.
- Simplified, this means each round every remaining player must take a turn being big and small blind.
- Special circumstance; when a tournament is down to 3 players remaining, and the dealer gets knocked out, the small blind becomes big blind and the big blind becomes dealer.
- When tournament is down to two players, pre flop action is on dealer, post flop action is off dealer.
27. If a card is accidentally dealt face up, or flips up, this card becomes the first burn card and deal continues, unless it is the first or second card, in which case, it is a misdeal and the cards are re-shuffled, re-cut, and re-dealt. If a second card flips then a misdeal occurs and the table must be re-dealt.
28. If the dealer accidentally deals the flop before the first round of betting has closed, the the flop should be re-dealt. The cards from the flop will be mixed in with the rest of the deck and shuffled. A new flop will be dropped after the shuffle. The burn card is not included in the reshuffle, nor is a new burn card dealt.
29. If the dealer reveals the fourth card or the "turn" card before the round of betting has been completed, that card will be taken out of play. The dealer burns another card and turns over what would have been the river card. After the round of betting is completed, the dealer will place the revealed turn card into the remaining deck and shuffle and allow for a cut, and then continue with the new river card. Again, the burn cards are not included, nor re-dealt.
30. If the dealer reveals the fifth card or the "river" card before the round of betting has been completed, that card will be placed back in the deck, reshuffled and cut, and then a new river card will be dealt. Again, the burn cards are not included, nor re-dealt.
31. As players are eliminated tables condense. TD performs this duty. Players are not to be placed on button or in blinds. If more than one player is added to a table there is a new high card draw performed to establish a new dealer.
32. If any player other than the dealer touches the deck, that player sits out one hand. Current hand is automatically dead and remaining players split the pot.
33. If a player does not have enough chips for a blind or a forced bet, the player is allowed action on whatever amount of chips the player has. A side pot may occur in this situation with remaining chips and players.
34. If a player goes "ALL-IN" short (less than the big blind) on a Bet or Raise, the following players only need call the amount of the bet unless they choose to raise, in which case, the following players would need to call the raise in order to continue playing that hand.
35. At any time a player can go "ALL-IN". If no more betting can be performed due to lack of chips, ("ALL-IN") remaining players' cards are turned face up and deal continues.
36. In order for a player to claim a pot they must show both Hole cards. All remaining players must acknowledge hand. Remember, "CARDS READ, or SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES".
37. If a card goes off table during the deal, the hand is dead and they must re-deal to the entire table. If a player drops cards more than once they sit out one hand. If this continues with same player, TD will make ruling.
38. A player may call for one-minute grace period when "action" comes to them. If a player is not at the table when "action" is on them, and they did not ask for a one-minute grace period, their hand is immediately mucked. Players abusing this rule can be eliminated from game.
39. If 2 or more players are eliminated on same hand, player who started with most chips is awarded higher finishing position. If players eliminated all started with same amount of chips, first seat left of the dealer is awarded higher position.
40. Place your bet in a manner so there shall be no confusion as to size of bet, no "splashing" the pot.
41. Make chip change at table. Chips with denominations no longer needed will be colored up, at 100 - 200 and at 500 - 1000.
42. Las Vegas Poker League sanctioned events prohibit any form of gambling. Anyone violating this rule will be disqualified from tournament and banned from Las Vegas Poker League sanctioned events.
43. Proper table manners are expected. Inappropriate behavior will be punished according to TD.
44. LVPL requires all players to be of legal playing age, or the age set forth by the establishment in which such tournament takes place.
Tournament Directors Association
The TDA is comprised up of a group of poker room personnel from around the world whose objective is to draft a standardized set of rules for poker tournaments. The TDA meets annually to discuss the addition of new rules and to amend or eliminate current rules. The TDA was founded by Matt Savage, David Lamb, Linda Johnson and Jan Fisher in 2001.
TDA Rules That Apply to the APL:
Floor Personnel or TD: Floor people are to consider the best interest of the game and fairness as the top priority in the decision-making process. Unusual circumstances can, on occasion, dictate that the technical interpretation of the rules be ignored in the interest of fairness. The floor-person's decision is final.
Odd Chips: The odd chip(s) will go to the high hand. If there is a split pot with an odd number of chips, the odd chip(s) will go to the left of the button.
Side pots: Each side pot will be split as a separate pot. They will not be mixed together before they are split.
Calling for clock: Once a reasonable amount of time has passed and a clock is called for, (TD must be notified) a player will be given one minute to make a decision. If action has not been taken by the time the minute is over, there will be a 10 second countdown. If a player has not acted on his hand by the time the countdown is over, the hand will be dead.
Dead Button: Tournament play will use a dead button.
Penalties: A penalty MAY be invoked if a player exposes any card with action pending, if a card(s) goes off the table, if soft-play occurs, or similar incidents take place. Penalties WILL be invoked in cases of abuse, disruptive behavior, or similar incidents.
Face up: All cards will be turned face up once a player is all in and all action is complete.
50%: If a player puts in a raise of 50% or more of the previous bet, he will be required to make a full raise. The raise will be exactly the minimum raise allowed.
Call: In no-limit, if a player puts an oversized chip in the pot before the flop, it is a call; after the flop, an oversized chip by the initial bettor put in the pot will constitute the size of the bet, for all other bettors, it is a call. If a player states "raise" and throws in an oversized chip without declaring an amount, the raise will be the maximum amount allowable up to the size of that chip.
One player: The one-player-to-a-hand rule will be enforced.
Random Seats: Tournament seats will be randomly assigned.
Cell Phone: A player who wants to use a cellular phone must step away from the table.
Card Deck changes: Deck changes will be on the dealer push or limit changes or prescribed by the house. Players may not ask for deck changes.
New Limits: When time has elapsed in a round and a new round is announced, the new limits apply to the next hand. A hand has begun with the first riffle (dealer shuffle).
Highest Chips Visible: Players must keep their highest denomination chips visible at all times.
Declarations: Verbal declarations as to the content of a player's hand are not binding; however at management's discretion, any player deliberately miscalling his hand may be penalized.
Rabbit hunting: Rabbit hunting is flipping over the next card on the deck to see what would have come out even though the hand is officially over. No rabbit hunting is allowed.
Chips Visible: All chips must be visibly displayed at all times. Players may not have tournament chips in their pockets at any time. A player who has chips in his pocket will forfeit the chips. The forfeited chips will be taken out of play from the tournament.
Moving Players: Players will be moved from their position, to a comparable position on the next table, if possible.?
Misdeal: If any of the players' two down cards are exposed due to dealer error, it is a misdeal.
Killing Winning Hand: Dealers cannot kill a winning hand that was turned face up and was obviously the winning hand.
Verbal declarations: Verbal declarations of betting, raising, or folding are binding. Action out of turn may be binding.
Management: Management reserves the right to cancel or alter any event at its sole discretion in the best interest of the establishment or its players.
Broken Table: Players going from a broken table to fill in seats assume the rights and responsibilities of the position.
Penalties: Penalties available for use by the TD are verbal warnings, 10, 20, 30, and 40 minutes away from the table and may be used with discretion. These may be utilized up to and including disqualification. A player who is disqualified shall have his chips removed from play.
No discussion: Players, whether in the hand or not, may not discuss the hands until the action is complete. Players are obligated to protect the other players in the tournament at all times. Discussing cards discarded or a hand possibility is not allowed. A penalty may be given for discussion of hands during the play.
Expose: A player who exposes his cards during the play may incur a penalty, but will not have his hand killed.
One motion: In No Limit when raising, a player must either put the amount of the raise out in one motion or state the raise amount. By stating the word raise, a player protects his right to raise, but the raise must be made in one additional motion unless he states the amount.
Verbal disclosing contents: Verbally disclosing the contents of your hand or advising a player how to play a hand may result in a penalty.
Less than full raise: In no-limit, less than a full raise does not reopen the betting to a player who already has acted.
- Example: Player A opens the betting for 200. Player B calls. Player C goes all-in for 250. Player A and B cannot then re-raise when it is their turn to act.
Burn Cards: The Burn Cards are meant to conceal the following cards and to prevent cheating by using marks on the cards. The Burn Cards must not be played until all of the betting for that round is done. Meaning the Dealer cannot place all the cards to be used face down on the table so that they just need to be flipped over, therefore exposing the back of all five cards.
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