The Rules of Poker: Essentials for Every Game (with Sheree Bykofsky)

  • List Price: $13.95
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Date: December 1, 2006
  • Publisher: Lyle Stuart
  • ISBN: 0818406607
  • Order from Amazon.com

Arguments break out by the minute in card rooms across the country. They happen all the time. There are scores of rules concerning fairness and etiquette in poker, but they vary from place to place. There are some rules that are generally accepted, but sometimes card room managers, floor supervisors, and tournament directors just don’t know them all or they fail to make their policies known.

Rules tend to differ between tournaments and cash games, even in the same card room or casino. Things are even worse in home games. Typically, tempers flare and cards go flying. This book offers a solution.

The Rules of Poker: The Ultimate Argument Settler, lays out all of the best poker rules as comprehensively as possible. Whenever possible we provide varying rules, with the preferred rules first. The index is easy to use and thorough.

But this is more than just a dry rule book. Dry rule books won’t hold anyone’s interest, and we certainly don’t want that. In addition to providing rules, we filled this book with boxed sidebars of anecdotes from dealers, players, and poker room staff around the world about disputes that have broken out and how they were settled. We’re hoping that you, the reader, will actually hear the gunshots.

What we do hope this book will accomplish is to take a giant step forward in the unification of poker rules from place to place, give you, the reader, an understanding — from rules, examples, and vignettes provided by tournament directors and poker floor supervisors — of the rules and etiquette surrounding poker.

Although rules still vary from one card room to another, progress has been made in recent years toward the unification of poker rules. Things are a lot better now than they were in the Wild West. Back in those, men like Wild Bill Hickok, Doc Holliday, and scores of others weren’t afraid to enforce the rules of poker their way, and if you were on the wrong end of one of their decisions it could bring your poker career to a sudden and permanent stop.

Poker has come of age in recent years. With poker discussion groups on the Internet, and television carrying poker programming at all hours of the day and night, great steps forward have been made in the unification of poker rules and etiquette, although there are still significant differences from one location to another.

The underlying objective of this book is to provide a comprehensive set of rules along with anecdotal information that will enable you, the reader, to view these rules in a perspective of what’s fair, and what is best for a given situation at hand, and for the game of poker in general.

As authors, our goal was to provide sufficient anecdotal material to clarify situations and spread light into ambiguous dark corners, as well as to provide a good read to anyone interested in The Rules of Poker.

Why You Need This Book

If you’re a floor supervisor, dealer, or involved in poker room management or supervision, this book provides a logical basis for the implementation and interpretation of rules consistent with those found in most poker establishments. If you are a player, knowing the rules provides information you can use when you’re involved in a dispute at the poker table.

If you’re a home game player, and particularly if you host a home game, these can prove invaluable to you in structuring your home game so that it resembles a casino game as closely as possible. While home games generally include variations of poker that are never found in casinos or cardrooms, and even include games that are made up on the spot, this set of rules can provide guidance to you in developing a set of logically consistent rules that can be applied to your home game.

Poker’s growing popularity has paralleled that of personal computers. If you’re a player who has learned his poker online, and is now contemplating play in a casino, these rules will remind you of some of the differences between online play and poker in a brick and mortar casino. For example, it’s a breech of poker etiquette to act out of turn by folding, calling, betting, or raising before the action gets around to you. When you play online it’s impossible to act out of turn because the game’s software precludes out-of-order actions. But in a casino, the only governor on your behavior is you, and the comments that will come your way from the dealer or supervisors if you persist in acting out of turn.

These rules discuss this, and other activities, such as string raises, that are precluded from occurring in online games but are ethical violations when they occur in brick and mortar games.

What We Assume About You

This is not a poker instructional book. It’s not designed to teach you hand rankings, explain tactical and strategic ploys that will increase your playing skill in any of a variety of poker games.

We assume you know how to play, have been playing for a while, and have an interest in learning and promulgating a recommended set of poker rules.

Even if you’re a real poker maven — an expert who has been interpreting poker rules in your casino or cardroom — you’ll still benefit from what we have to offer. Some of our suggested rules will go a long way to helping unify poker and bring some much needed consistency to what is becoming a global game. You’ll also have a chance to see how a variety of poker supervisors have dealt with rule interpretations, which may reinforce what you already know. You may even encounter some situations you’ve never thought of before.

How to Use This Book

This book is primarily a reference book, although we hope it serves as a tutorial for anyone who is concerned with the proper play of poker. We see our potential readers as players, supervisors, dealers, and those producing poker content for television and other media.

There’s no need to read it from cover to cover to understand where we’re coming from. You can begin where you’d like to, and dive into this book on a game-by-game basis if that’s your desire. But we do recommend reading the beginning sections first. They deal with rules and etiquette that pertains to all games, and this material will provide you with a feel for poker’s unique environment and help you to make interpretations of situations you encounter that are not explicitly covered in this book.

How This Book is Organized

We’ve organized this book so that the discussions in each of the chapters are self-contained. Here’s what each part covers:

Part 1: House Policies and Etiquette

This section discusses general rules that govern play in a cardroom as well as poker etiquette. This section provides the latitude for poker management and supervision to make decisions that are in keeping with the fairness and intent of the game. This section provides management the wherewithal to deal with “angle-shooting” and unethical behavior on the part of players, by permitting management to make decisions in the best interest of the game, rather than in accordance with narrow interpretation of the rules.

Part 2: Rules For All Poker Games

The rules in this section pertain to all poker games, and are not games-specific. Rules regarding calling, folding, betting, and raising are discussed here, as are such procedural areas as showdowns, tied hands and split pots, buttons, blinds, and antes, and what constitutes a dead hand. The rules in this section assume a game with fixed betting limits, such as $10-$20 hold’em, or $2-$4 Omaha/8.

Part 3: Game Specific Rules

Some rules that apply to Texas hold’em don’t apply to seven-card stud, or Omaha. This is where you will find rules specific to specific forms of poker.

Part 4: Tournament Rules

There are major differences between tournament poker and cash games — also referred to as “ring” games — and this section will lay out tournament rules suitable for use in casinos or for tournaments you might want to introduce to your home game.

Part 5: Big Bet Poker

The rules regarding betting and raising are very different in pot-limit and no-limit poker games, regardless of whether these games are tournaments or played as cash games. We’ll discuss the differences between fixed limit poker and “big-bet” poker in this section.

Part 6: Index

Casual readers usually don’t pay much attention to an index. But for this book, we devoted a substantial amount of attention to it. An effective index will allow anyone using this book to quickly dial into areas of concern where they may be called to arbitrate a dispute, disagreement, or misunderstanding. If we’ve done out job properly, any supervisor will be able to find the appropriate section of the book in order to rule on a dispute, even when acting in the heat of battle.

Regardless of whether he or she is asked to rule on whether or not a hand is a “dead hand,” whether or not a raise in a no-limit game is the minimum required amount, whether a misdeal took place and the cards will have to be returned to the dealer to be dealt again, which player must show down his hand first at the conclusion of play, or any of the other numerous issues that arise in poker games, this book’s index is easily addressable by topic and subject and will make it easy for decisions to be made.

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