5 Horribly Worded Poker Rules that Confuse Everyone

Five horribly-worded poker rules that confuse everyone! Featuring Marc Shumsker from TruePokerDealer.com

Marc from True Poker Dealer: My very first day at a new property I get called to 2-5-no-limit game. The reason I get called there is because this guy has just called the woman a “C” word. And I’m just like, day one, really? So I go up there and I pulled the guy of the table because I am not handling this on the table. I pull him into a separate room and the shift manager comes flying in behind me, and so the two of us are in there and I am talking to him and he’s like, “Listen, Listen! I am a good guy. Everybody loves me here.” And I stop him. And I tell him. This is my very first day at this new job. I have never in seven years as a supervisor heard somebody call someone else the “C” word at a table. And you are trying to tell me that you are a good guy? I’m going to see how this goes from here on out. I can tell my shift manager doesn’t want me to kick you out but normally you are gone.

Heather: We are joined with our special guest Marc from True Poker Dealer. Marc, would you like to introduce yourself to the audience and tell them a little more about yourself and where they can find you?

Marc: I would love to introduce myself. I am Marc Shumsker. You can find me on YouTube on True Poker Dealer. I help teach people how to deal poker and I do have a full course where you can learn right from YouTube how to deal poker just by joining my channel. It has been really fun for years. I think I have been on there about the same time as Heather since roughly 2012. I think she has got me notched a little bit. That is always going to bug me. That’s me True Poker Dealer! I have your questions answered for poker and I am excited for today. Thank you as always Heather for having me come on here and for joining my livestreams too!

Heather: My pasture!I always love it when we can sit here and interact and talk and share stories. It is always so much having you around.

Marc: Thank you! Even though I tease you?

Heather: Oh yeah! Oh yeah! You are totally good. Now today we are going to be talking about 5 Horribly Worded Poker Rules That Confuse Everyone. I am really excited about this. I have really been looking forward to this. Marc, what is No. 1?

Marc: I am actually going to go in reverse order. No. 1 is the juiciest. So, I’m starting with No. 5 right now. All of these are things that confuse players and dealers. It’s everybody that gets confused by this. Some of you are familiar with what these are right? (holding up buttons) This is a miss big blind button and a miss little blind button. I am going to challenge you Heather on every single one of these. I want to know if you know the answer.

Heather: Oh goodness.

Marc: Now if somebody has missed both of their blinds, do they get both buttons or just one? Do you know?

Heather: Ummm. If they miss both of their blinds do they get both buttons or just one? If memory serves me correctly I think they get both and they have to pay both the big blind and the little blind.

Marc: So you are sorta correct. They get one of the buttons but they do have to pay both blinds. Okay. They have to pay a big blind and they play a dead small blind that goes to the center of the table when they come back. Or they can just come for their big blind and only pay a big blind.

The term that we use that is confusing here is “Post.” You have to “Post.” So what happens is there’s a lot of scenarios where a player will miss both of their blinds as the hands get dealt out and the button goes around the table and they miss their blinds. However, if they miss a small blind we also use the term post, and they are just posting a dead small. And there is another scenario where a player moves away from the big blind. Say they want to go to a different seat, they were about to be a big blind and they move a few seats down, more than three. We actually give them a missed big blind button for that as well. Because we never give a big and small blind in this industry, it’s very confusing because when we tell that player to post, in order for them to play, they have to only post a big blind, there is no dead small. And in that case when a new dealer gets to the table and they see one of these [Big Blind Button] they tell a player they have to post. I have seen many arguments about what that actually means in that scenario. And that was No. 5.

Heather: That’s cool. Awesome, well we are ready to move on to No. 4. Really excited to hear about this. Thank you again for doing this. This is such a great topic.

Marc: Well of course. I get to say I challenge you and you say yes. That part is fun. Although you are not expected to know poker quite the same. So the next one. I am going to ask you, do you know what the term “dead hand” means?

Heather: Dead hand is when the player mucks their hand and it’s no longer in play.

Marc: So there’s a variation to what you said. So first of all any hand that is dead is when one player no longer can use that hand. A lot of people when they create a misdeal. So when the dealer deals out incorrectly, they say misdeal, bring them back. Sometimes they accidentally they say dead hand. It’s just a logical term that people use. What a dead hand is, any time one individual hand is killed. And so what will happen, I have seen this plenty of times, in a cash game (this cannot happen in a tournament) if the other will deal every single player in. Then they will look over and realize they dealt an extra hand in. An extra two cards in Texas Hold’em. Those two cards are a dead hand. What will happen, I have seen this over and over again, the supervisor – say the supervisor comes to the table to make a ruling or the dealer knows to do it. They say, “oh this is a dead hand.” I always see players toss their cards in because they have heard dead hand for misdeal and they think because the wording of this rule is so terrible and the wording of what dead hand means they think that all hands are dead and the entire hand is dead. Because as we know in poker the word hand means the collective group of all the hands dealt out and it also means an individual hand and that confuses people a lot. A dead hand is one players hand, or an extra two cards or in omaha four cards that were dealt to a seat. Not everybody.

Heather: When they do this, when they check it in it’s not like they can be like, “My mistake, I want them back, I actually want to play.”

Marc: I have see players that have money in front of them, for some reason, and they throw their cards there in the muck, and you can’t kill everyone else's cards, so you are sorta SOL!

Heather: Oh man! That’s so bad.

Marc: MISDEAL is when you toss them all in. MISDEAL. If you are a dealer, do not say dead hand when it is a misdeal, you will confuse everybody further.

Heather: And you will make everyone mad at you.

Marc: Yes! And that is always a great feeling.

Heather: Haha! So Marc, what is No. 3?

Marc: No. 3! I am going to challenge you with this one because that is my favorite. It is the term closest to the button when speaking about who gets the extra chip in a chopped pot. Let me ask you, what does closest to the button mean? Because that is the terminology that is used everywhere in poker. People say closest to the button. Closest to the button.

Heather: I am going to have to guess with this one. If they are saying close to the button, I would assume they are talking about the big blind?

Marc: That’s a very good guess. And listen, this is a set up! Right! This stuff is impossible to know what it means just form the terminology and that’s why all of these adamant poker players think they know what it actually means, and they go super hard with their thought, right? Actually this is on of the ones that causes home game dealers the most trouble, because they have to figure out what it is.

So basically if you have two players that have the exact strength hand, and it’s at the show down and they both show their hand. You have to figure out if you have an odd number of chips, someone’s gotta get the extra one. Otherwise you have to stop everything and go home. You might as well have a rule for this. Well we say closest to the button gets it. What that actually means – it doesn’t have anything to do with that exact hand. It’s saying in the future the person who is going to get the button next out of everyone in the hand, is going to get the extra chip. So if you are in the small blind position, you are going to get the button in the next hand. That makes you closest to the button.

I prefer to use terminology that’s different than that when I teach this. I prefer to use terminology “fist to act”. And that implies who would have acted first on the flop turn and river. That is who I say get the extra chip. It’s the same thing, but less confusing. So worst position, first to act is a better way to phrase it. But closest to the button has made its way through poker for years and years. Probably decades and confused people, especially at home.

Heather: Well that is really good to know. Thank you!

Marc: You're welcome!

Heather: Is No. 2 similar to that or totally different?

Marc: It is something in the showdown, I think it’s pretty different but it is still poker.

Heather: How about No. 2!

Marc: What does “show one, show all” mean?

Heather: Oh! Aren’t you talking about the cards? So if you show your cards you have to show everybody your cards? You can’t just show one person your card?

Marc: So that is true. And let me ask you this. What happens if you decide to show one of your two cards, or two of your four cards, do you have to show all of your cards?

Heather: Good question. I would have to say no because I have seen where people just flip over the one card and they don’t flip over both of them and it seems to be like they get away with it?

Marc: So different circles interpret this differently, however professionals in casinos all get this the same, okay! Show one, show all is only referring to the rule that you fist said (And you were correct about it, I am very happy to say that). If you were to show one player or even a spectator or the dealer your cards, then you do have to show everybody. It is show one person, show all people. It is not show one card, show all cards. I have seen fights over this misunderstanding, where entire poker rooms have decided to take on this show one card, show all cards rule because of the confusion and not wanting to deal with the alfa players of the table. Where the people running the room were sorta like, “Not 100% sure myself”. They seem pretty confident. It happens sometimes.

Almost everywhere it is consistent. If you show one person your cards, you have to show everybody. That being said, this is just a little nugget, it’s not about terminology, it’s upon request, unless you show somebody that actually was in the hand. So if you show a spectator and you end up mucking your hands, or you show someone that does not have cards and you end up mucking your hand, then if the dealer gets asked to show, you do have to show everybody. It’s not automatic. The dealer only does it when the player – it’s even if someone potentially could have seen it. That was in the hand and had cards and everybody’s got to see it. There are rules around that as well.

Heather: Wow! So if I am a player on a poker game and one of the other players quickly shows his wife that is standing behind him the cards, then I could request to see the cards and they would have to show them?

Marc: Absolutely. Well the dealer might be the one to do it. So as a dealer if you ever get asked, “Hey I would like to see the cards that were just shown.” I am assuming it’s going to be pretty obvious, you will know that they are shown, right? If that happens, protect your muck, because if that player gets those cards face down into the muck, there is nothing you can do about it. So in that moment, whenever you get requested, “Can I see those cards?” Or whatever the words are that another player at the table says, protect your muck by putting your hand directly on top of it so no cards can get in there. Then you will be able to do that.

At the showdown, or it’s a live hand it can get a little bit complicated. You want to be careful that you understand those specific rules. It would take a while to go into all of that. I will say this, I have been at the table as both the dealer and a supervisor. Let’s say there are three players at the showdown. One of them tables a hand, let’s say they table a straight, or something like that. Somebody else sees another players cards, and someone's like, “I want to see that hand.” Well, is that hand live or not? They are at the showdown. That is the question, right? So there are a lot of rules that are mixed into this dynamic as well. They are pretty tricky. As a dealer you usually get a floor involved. But as a supervisor you have to know! It can be pretty rough.

Heather: So as a dealer, if nobody says anything, then do you still have to show the cards or is it just if someone requests it?

Marc: So if the player shows his wife behind him and nobody says anything, then no you don’t. That probably happens – let me see, I played poker yesterday for three hours and it happened four times and nobody said anything. It’s tough to speak up to see the cards because you piss people off sometimes. But at the same time they are putting themselves at risk for it. It’s like they are asking for it. So you know. If you have the cahonas to ask, do it! It is an advantage, right? You get to see what they had. Other people – it shouldn't be that some people get to see it and others don’t.

Heather: I agree! Besides poker is all about reading people and that is a great way to see how they are acting.

Marc: Yeah and as a poker player, honestly if you are choosing to show your hand to someone whether they are in the game or not, you are putting yourself at risk. If you have cards and you have shown someone else throughout the hand, and then two minutes later in the hand, that person who has seen them give you any type of advice, whether they realize they are giving it to you, you might end up getting your hand killed. It’s never a good idea to show your cards, in my personal opinion. It’s one of a few consistent ways to get your hand killed.

Heather: Very good advice.

Marc: Well thank you!

Heather: Okay so what is No. 1?

Marc: No. 1. So have you ever had it happen where you were playing poker and it was your turn, and the person that goes after you folded, or bet, or something like that and you are just like…woow? In that scenario there is a set of rules in poker that determines what happens next. So if it is my turn and the player to my left – let’s say it’s Five To Call and I am playing 2-5-no-limit. Five to call to me – I’m thinking about what I want to do and the player to my left raises. In that case I speak up and say hey it’s my turn. So now there is a rule that says, if the action changes then that player can take back their $20, however if the action does not change and that money must stay in there. I ask you Heather, Do you know what that is referring to?

Heather: Oh Man! No!

Marc: This one is a bit tricky. The phrasing – if the action doesn’t change, seems to make it sound like if anything changes then the money can come back. And if nothing changes it doesn’t. But what happens if I call $5? Is the action changing at that point? It seems like it is, now there’s another player that has put money in the pot. What if I fold? Well, now there are less people in the hand. But what it’s actually saying is – if the action changes, if the amount to call that was previously in place changes. That is what they mean by action. It’s a terrible word choice for that. I have seen floors that have been confused with this, that have end up making the wrong ruling because they don’t understand that specific phrasing.

What I suggest that people learn when they think about this particular rule is, using the phrasing, “The amount to call.” If the amount to call doesn’t change, then that player's $20 bet must remain. But if the amount to call does change, say that I decide to raise, well now the player that put in $20 is allowed to take that $20 back, they can fold instead without losing anything. They can call if they want, or they can raise. They get all of their options available to them in that case.

Heather: So calling and folding, is not that. It’s only when you are raising is that the change part of it?

Marc: Exactly! It is only in that case. It’s confused people for years. I am sorta on a mission to fix these things because it doesn’t need to be this way! It just doesn’t!

Heather: Right!! Seriously!! And I am so glad that you are on that mission, because your website, your channel and your training and everything it really does help. It helps new poker dealers learn this trade. I know you have said it before but just one more time, where can people find you if they want to take one of your courses or check out one of your videos?

Marc: Well I appreciate that! So you can see True Poker Dealer is what it says right here (pointing to label on YouTube) and it’s just that right there. Plug in True Poker Dealer into YouTube and you can find me there. You can find a whole bunch of stuff that can help you to become a poker dealer. So many different ways. Including, some livestreams! A couple with Heather! I am always making stuff. I have my super content that is really focused on teaching people how to deal, and I also have the more casual interviews. I have interviewed poker room managers. I have interviewed magicians, and all of this stuff. It has been really fun.

Heather: That was a really interesting one. I really enjoyed watching that one with the magician. He was talking about slide of hand. It was an hour of goodness. It might have been more than an hour. Either way it was goodness. It went really fast.

Marc: I actually brought him back and I appreciate that very much. I brought him back and he showed me how to do it live. I was almost getting it right. Which is a little bit scary. I don’t think I could fool people live. I used the less sophisticated one that would fool cameras. Not surveillance cameras, just livestream cameras. I felt like a BA!

Heather: Well all five of those rules that you gave are just freaking fantastic. I wish we had more to talk about. You are just so full of information and everything. Can I request an encore with one of them?

Marc: I do have two honorable mentions, that I put ther as I was trying to brainstorm if you would like me to share?

Heather: Yeah I would love to talk about that.

Marc: Okay. Well the first honorable mention is the phrasing that I am sure you have heard before if you have played poker before, “verbal is binding.” So what do you take that to mean?

Heather: Whatever says goes?

Marc: That is very very simple and very very clear right? It takes it to the extent that if a player pushes out half of their stacks. Say they have $200, they push out a stack of red. It’s a $100. While they are pushing it out at the same exact time they say all in. Well they have no choice but to go all in. But the question is, what if they say, “All of my children?” In that case they did say something verbal that could be interpreted to have meaning but– I had to make floor rulings like this. Somebody said something like, “All of my family.” And they put in one stack and tried to put in the other stack afterwards and I had to go to the table and make a ruling where I said, “Look, I understand that verbal is binding, which is what they were saying,”verbal is binding!” I understand that that is what you are saying, but I have to have something to bind it to. That particular terminology does not mean anything in poker, so your bet is going to be your physical action in that case.

Heather: Well you could be betting your kids. You could be like okay I’m going to put my 2nd child up, my 3rd child up. They are really good at working. If you win them they will work for you and everything. Maybe I will put my wife up there two.

Marc: I want to play in your home game.

Heather: Haha!!

Marc: Please.

Heather: I will even put in the dog. All in!

Marc: All right here is the editing I need done for all of you. I hate to say it but I actually considered asking my eight year old to help me with editing. He likes doing stuff like that. But I am not BETTING HIM!!

Yeah, there is also a scenario – you are making me laugh here. There is a scenario too where – what happens if you are playing in a tournament and the blinds are say 400-800 and you say five. Does that mean 500? Does that mean 5000? It’s an interesting dynamic. In that case the verbal part from what you did that is binding is unclear. The TDA’s come up with rules that determine what that actual answer is. They had to create extra rules to do it.

Heather: It could mean five kids.

Marc: I definitely want to play at your game. Although I don’t think you have five kids to bet.

Heather: No. Hahaha!

Marc: Fascinating! I do have one more as well, if you want to hear it.

Heather: I would love to.

Marc: It is not going to be as funny as this one. So have you ever heard the term substantial action before?

Heather: Yeah. I am assuming that’s like a whale?

Marc: Interesting. Well there is another term: significant action. Have you heard of that term?

Heather: Probably what I am thinking of.

Marc: It’s possible that you have a specific term that you are thinking of but it isn't necessarily in this ballpark. Substantial action is referring to – what happens if there is an error that occurs and nobody notices it until later in the hand, and then somebody says, “Hey this was incorrect! This was wrong!”

Let’s say that for example, a player didn’t do anything on the flop. So it’s a $20 bet, call, call, and another player doesn’t do anything. The dealer brings the turn, and then a person bets. The question is what do you do, right? So there is this rule called substantial action where you determine whether or not there was substantial action to see whether or not a card comes back and it was a premature turn, etc. And then my next question is what is significant action? This is something that confuses people all the time. So the answer is, significant action is the same thing as substantial action. It is very confusing that there are two terms that are used frequently to mean the exact same thing.

I have had a conversation with a supervisor that was making a ruling in a room that I was also supervising in where they tried to tell me in the beginning half of the sentence that substantial action is this. Then in the second half of the sentence there is significant action. And I am looking at them like really? In the same exact conversation, in the same sentence you are going to use both terms with people listening to what you are trying to say? That is something that happens in the industry a lot where these two things people hear, this time he said substantial, and this time he said significant. What do I do? It’s just one of those things that are confusing to people. They are the same.

Heather: That is really good to know. That really clears it up. Thank you so much for all of the content that you have brought to this. It was awesome that we were able to talk about this. Especially when you hear these terms on the table and you are just like, I’m not sure. Now we have this video and now we can be sure. This is awesome.

Marc: Yeah show this to all the freaking people that I have been dealing with so I don’t have to deal with it any more. But no. Ultimately we are trying to make gaming better. I know you are on the same mission.

Heather: Yep. Definitely.

Q: Can you double straddle the blinds? A: That is a good question. That is going to be game specific. There are a lot of games. You can actually see this on the TCHlivestream on YouTube which I personally enjoy. They are out of Austin, Texas. They do livestreams. They have this all the time where under the gun straddles, and then once under the gun puts their money in, the next player straddles for double the amount, then the next straddles for double the amount. They even triple, and quadruple, and sometimes in this 5-10 game they do. You will see the blinds - it’s the straddles for 20, then the next straddle is for 40, then the next ones for 80, then next ones for 160 before the flop. They just put it in blind.

The answer is, in a lot of games you can. Generally speaking it’s only aloud when the under the gun player straddles. In games that like to have double straddles allowed they will often not allow a straddle from any other position than other the gun in order to make this work properly.

Heather: Okay. When you do do that, can you just keep going or is there a cap, or a max?

Marc: You know I have never seen it make its way all the way through the button because of how high that would get. Like if you were playing nine handed, if you think about it, the first one is 20, the second one is going to be 40, then 80, then 160 and that’s middle position. I don’t think you have to worry about that. I think technically you can keep going though. Everyone would be all in at that point, if you went all the way around the blinds.

Heather: All in!

Marc: Right.

Q: What should be done if a player bets out of turn? A: So that is a great question and it is related to the action out of turn. If the action doesn’t change rule that we spoke about. If a player bets out of turn, as a dealer the first thing that you would do is almost obnoxiously throw your hand up to the player after them. Because poker players have this habit – well it’s not like this (hand in face). Players have this habit of acting after the person in front of them. You can not fault them for that. And they might not realize that somebody was skipped because it’s their que that they look for when the player next to them acts. So, what you do as a dealer is you make sure that you stop that.

So let’s say the player in seat No.4 is next you sorta put your hand. You make them talk to the hand right :) No, you show them very clearly, actions over here. So one hand is going to hold up. The other one is going to go down. Or if you can’t do that, and say you have the deck in your hand, you say, “Hold up” with this hand, and you say actions over here. Hold up, actions over here. You have to be super clear about it.

This is one of the reasons why as a dealer – like I teach always follow the action as the very fist and foremost thing. If you don’t follow the action, you may think that somebody check – say that is is on the flop, the first player hasn’t done anything, the second player acts. You might literally look over if you haven’t been paying attention, and just assume the second player acted so the fist one must of checked. You are going to be wrong sometimes. That’s why number one priority as a dealer is follow the action/make sure the dollar amounts are correct.

Heather: And drink coffee so you don’t fall asleep on the table.

Marc: Yeah I like that story from last time very much.

Heather: Well that is awesome. Is there anything you would like to tell the audience before we get going?

Marc: Just how much I appreciate you Heather! You are always grinding away on here. Giving people value. Teaching people. Having fun with them. It’s just a pleasure to know you and always happy to come and participate.

Heather: It’s a pleasure to know you too. I always have when you come on the channel and do the. One more time, because I know people haven’t heard enough yet. Where can people find you?

Marc: Website: TruePokerDealer.com. YouTube channel is True Poker Dealer. You can be one of my 16,000 subscribers, I would love it! I do have a course on YouTube where you can learn to deal start to finish poker. Just join my channel if you want to be a part of it. I have helped teach thousands of dealers at this point to be poker dealers all around the world and it has been an unbelievable journey that I am so appreciative of. Thank you for allowing me to say all of that.

Heather: My pleasure. I hope we can have you back again because it is always great hearing you! That does it for today's show. Thank you so much for watching!

Read more: Top 5 Tricks for Dealing a Better Texas Hold’Em Game

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