Official Poker Handicapping Rules

The game of poker is played by individuals competing for an amount of chips (representing money) contributed by the players themselves in the form of bets. Players attempt to control the amount of chips in the pot based on the cards they hold and their prediction of what their opponents are holding and how they might behave. Players may also bluff, betting that they have a superior hand when in fact they do not, hoping to win by deceiving their opponents into calling their bet.

A standard 53-card pack is used, including a joker (“bug”) which counts as a wild card only when making a flush [a series of five cards of the same suit] or certain special hands. In tournament play blinds and antes are posted to force bets from players. A round disc known as the dealer button rotates clockwise each hand to indicate which player is the nominal dealer for betting purposes.

In a hand, players must act in a timely manner to maintain a reasonable pace of play. If in the TD’s judgment that reasonable time has passed, he or she must call for a clock. Once the clock is called, a player has up to 25 seconds to act; failure to do so makes the hand dead.

Official betting terms are simple, unmistakable, time-honored declarations like bet, raise, call, fold, all-in, and pot (pot-limit only). Regional terms may be used but must meet house standards to be considered official. Clothing, jewelry and other accoutrements must not obscure player identity or create a distraction. Use of devices, apps, music, images or other materials not related to poker is subject to TD approval and may be penalized under Rule 71.