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The Official Poker Rules

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Poker is a card game that can be played by two or more players. The rules vary by variant, but all involve betting intervals. It is considered the national card game of the United States, and its play and jargon permeate American culture. It can be played in private homes, at clubs and casinos, and over the Internet. Poker is often thought to be a game of pure chance, but there is also a considerable amount of skill involved.

The game has evolved into hundreds of variations, including Draw and Stud Poker. It can be played socially for pennies or matchsticks, or professionally for thousands of dollars. The cards are dealt out, and bets placed in a round, or “pot”. The winner of each pot is determined by the highest-valued hand. Some of the most popular variants are Texas Hold’em and Omaha Hi/Lo.

ONE PLAYER TO A HAND: This rule prohibits showing or discussing a hand to another player, advisor, or spectator during action. This includes talking about strategy at the table and arguing with other players. It also forbids mucking the cards by picking them up with the action pending (in stud poker, this means pushing down all the up cards facedown).

A PLAYOVER BOX: This clear plastic box is used to cover and protect an absent player’s chips when someone plays over his or her seat. It is a simple and effective way to keep track of chips, while helping prevent mistakes. A dealer or floorperson who sees a mistake about to be made in awarding a pot has an ethical obligation to point out the error.

POOR MUCKING: If a player’s cards are exposed during a hand when there is still action pending, the hand is dead. A proper muck is turning down all the up cards and pushing them forward facedown. A mucked hand must be returned to the dealer.

POSITION: Generally, a player’s position in the order of betting is determined by his or her relation to the button (dealer marker). The player to the left of the button has the right to act first.

CHIP COUNTING: All players, dealers, and floorpeople are entitled to a reasonable estimate of their opponents’ chip stacks when it is their turn to act. A player may request a more precise count only if facing an all-in bet and it is his or her turn to call the bet. Visible and countable chip stacks greatly improve counting accuracy.

TOURNAMENT SIGN-IN: All tournament players must sign in and clearly print their Member ID# and Full Name on the Tournament Sign-In sheet. Illegible entries will not receive credit.


A player who has been given a full set of cards and is in the lead for that hand is said to be “in the money.” A winning poker hand must consist of at least five cards and meet a specific set of criteria. The exact number of cards and their suit, rank, and value are the factors that determine a poker hand’s value.

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