F.A.Q. Frequently Asked Questions about Poker Rules

Q: What happens if a player bets more chips than I have?
A: You still have the possibility to call, but the prize money you'll collect should you win will depend upon the amount of your own stack. Let's say two players are all-in for $10 each. If I call with my $5 stack, it will create a $25 pot, but my maximum expected profit will only be $15, or three times my stack. The two other players will compete for a $10 side pot.

Q: Can I buy more chips DURING a hand?
A: Absolutely not. While you'll see this in many bad movies, this is a big no-no in the real world. You can buy more chips in a cash-game, but only between hands.

Q: What's the difference between a cash-game and a tournament?
A: During a cash-game, you can buy more chips at any time between hands, as long as you can still afford it, of course. Tournaments are different. The most common tournament type is the freezeout. In freezeout tournaments, everyone starts with the same number of chips and once you run out of chips, you're eliminated and cannot re-enter the game. However, there are also some tournaments where you can rebuy after you have been eliminated. This is generally possible only during the early rounds of the tournament.

Q: What happened to good ol'five card draw?
A: Five Card Draw, although still practiced, is not as common as it once was. Nowadays the majority of players prefer flop games such as No Limit Hold'em.

Q: Are there any other variants of poker?
A: Of course, there are many different poker variants. Some of them involve 4 cards, some others 5, even as many as 7 cards. The three main families are Hold'Em, Stud and Omaha.

Q: Are there any other types of betting than No Limit?
A: There are actually three main types of betting in poker: Limit, Pot-Limit and No-Limit. In Limit, you bet and raise according to fixed amounts. In Pot-Limit, you can only bet up to the current size of the pot. In No-Limit, you can bet as much as you want at any time. Limit is very popular in the United States and on the Internet. Pot Limit is big in Europe. No Limit is considered the most spectacular, subtle and, also the most dangerous type of poker.

Q: At the showdown, which player has to show his cards first?
A: Usually, if you think you have the best hand, you show your cards first. Otherwise, rules dictate that the last player to force the action on the river (the last to bet) has to show his cards first. In the case where nobody has bet, the first player on the left of the button will show first. In a tournament, where two or more players are all-in, they both have to show their cards, even if the river hasn't been dealt.

Q: When I watch poker on TV, I often see players turning their hands face up before the hand has ended. Why is that?
A: In a tournament, whether it is televised or not, as soon as ALL of the remaining players in the hand are all-in, they have to reveal their hole cards, even if the flop hasn't been dealt. Doing it so is not only good for the drama, but is most importantly done to avoid collusion. For example if someone with a winning hand wanted to keep his friend in the tournament by mucking it, this would discourage him from doing so.

Q : Can I stay in a hand without betting?
A: Before the flop, you can't check because there's already a bet to match: the big blind. However, the big blind still has the possibility to see the flop for free if no one has raised before him, since he already placed his bet down. On the subsequent rounds, it's possible to stay in the hand without betting as long as no one else bets, thus giving the players free cards.

Q: What's a check-raise?
Imagine that you have good cards, but you don’t want anyone to think that you do. You will first check early in the betting round and hope that someone else will open with a raise. When it is your turn to bet again you will then reraise the bet. This strategy is usually used with a big hand, giving you the opportunity to extract more chips from your opponent.

Q: My opponents bet 100. I want to raise him. Can I raise him something like 120 or 150?
A: Definitely not. Your minimum raise has to be at least the double of the first bet. however you can raise 3 or 4 times more. You can also push all-in. If I you don't have enough chip to raise double the bet, you're still allowed to push all-in, even though you only have 120 or 150 chips left.

Q: If I call a bet and someone behind me raises, what are my options?
Well, you can fold, giving up the hand and the chips you already put into the pot. You can also call by matching the bet. And of course, you can reraise, creating more action.

Q: Should I play like the champions I see on TV?
A: Yes... And no! For three reasons:
1/ Not every player you see on TV is a champion. However, all the best players in the world are masters of the game. They know every strategy and every possible situation. They know how to read their opponents .They are excellent at analyzing the board, and they understand poker psychology. As a result, they are capable of making inspired, complicated, yet bizarre plays. Sometimes when a very skilled player wins a hand, you'll be left wondering how he did it. Don't try to play like them until you have at least mastered the basics.

2/ Also, we often see tournaments on the television. Strategy changes drastically from the beginning to the end of the tournament. On TV, what you'll most often see is the final table, a stage where the strategy is very specific: players have to be very aggressive and take many risks, especially when short-stacked.

3/ Poker TV programs only show us edited footage of the final table. Most often, only the most spectacular hands make the cut. What most TV programs don't show us, are the dozen of hands where not much happens. At least, on the surface not much happens... Don't be fooled: it's often during such hands that the pros position themselves to gain the upper hand.

All in all, TV gives us an incomplete picture of how the champions play their cards. It is probably not a good idea to repeat exactly what you see on TV. Stay humble and remember that you're not as good as them... yet!