Tournament Poker Rules
1. General Rules
The Tournament Director and Floor Personnel are to consider the best interest of the game and fairness as the top priority in the decision-making process. Unusual circumstances may on occasion dictate that decisions in the interest of fairness take priority over the technical rules. The decisions of the Tournament Director and/or Floor Personnel are final.
Player Responsibilities – Players are expected to verify registration data and seat assignments, protect their hands, make their intentions clear, follow the action, act in turn, defend their right to act, keep cards visible, keep chips correctly stacked, remain at the table with a live hand, speak up if they see a mistake being made, transfer tables promptly, follow one player to a hand, know and comply with the rules, follow proper etiquette, and generally contribute to an orderly tournament.
Official Terminology of Tournament Poker – Official betting or action terms are simple, unmistakable, time-honoured declarations, like: bet, raise, call, fold, check, all-in, pot (in pot-limit only), and complete. Regional terms may also meet this standard. The use of non-standard language and gestures is at player’s risk because it may result in a ruling other than what the player intended. It is the responsibility of players to make their intentions clear.
Electronic Devices – For the avoidance of doubt, the term Electronic Device includes, but is not limited to, the following devices, both known and unknown. Electronic Devices are not permitted to be placed on the playing surface, which includes any part of the poker table, at any time. Players are allowed to place items on the rail.
- Phone – Players may not speak on the phone while at the table whether in a hand or not in a hand. They must step away from the table to conduct their call.
- Phones, tablets and laptops - Players may use these devices (aside from taking calls) at the table, however not while in a hand. Laptops may not be plugged into to an external power source while at the table.
- Periscope, Twitch, etc… - The use of Apps or any other type of broadcast capability to broadcast the tournament while in play is not allowed.
- Wearable Recording Devices – These devices and the use of recording devices of any kind are prohibited throughout the poker room.
- There will be no electronic devices permitted on any Featured Televised Tables or Main Event Final Tables.
- Table Distractions – PSLive reserves the right to ask players to cease using any and all Electronic Devices or any other items if the Floor Staff determines you are slowing down the pace of play, or otherwise affecting other players at your table. Players may request the Dealer contact Floor Personnel if they believe a player is causing the game to slow down due to outside influences including, but not limited to, books, magazines and Electronic Devices.
Chopping & Chopping Prizes (Deal Making) – Deals will be allowed in all venues where it does not conflict with local gaming regulations. All deals will be reported to media.
2. Tournament Seating
Seating/Stacks – All tournament seating will be randomly assigned and non-transferable. Tournament staff reserves the right to adjust seating to accommodate players with special needs throughout the tournament and to balance tables at the start of the tournament. Players are responsible for verifying their registration receipt to ensure accuracy.
- Alternates, late entries and re-entries will receive full stacks. They will be seated and assume the rights and responsibilities of any position, except between the small blind and the button.
- Where applicable, players who collect their table and seat assignments will have their stacks put into play when all of their seat numbers have been collected.
- Example - If a player receives Table 4/Seat 8, once all the #8 seats have been collected, all of the #8 seats in the tournament will have their stacks put into play.
Identification – All players are responsible for having valid picture identification to take their tournament seats for the start, and all subsequent restarts, at all PokerStars Live Events. Any player using a fraudulent form of identification will be penalized, up to and including disqualification from the event.
Re-buys – Players wishing to re-buy may not miss a hand. If a player announces the intent to re-buy before a new hand, that player is playing chips behind and is obligated to make the re-buy.
Table Breaking – The breaking order for a tournament will be made available when registration for the tournament has closed. PokerStars Live reserves the right to alter the breaking order. Players going from a broken table will assume the rights and responsibilities of the position (button, small blind, big blind). They will not receive a hand between the small blind and the button.
- Tables will be broken by double randomization. The Dealer will high card the table starting in seat one. The floor person will mix the seat cards and pass them out starting with the high card in clockwise order around the table.
Table Balancing – Play will halt at any table that is at least three players short of the table with the most players at that time. In flop and mixed games, players will be moved from the big blind to the worst position, including taking a single big blind when available. Worst position is never the small blind. In stud only games, players will be moved by position (the last seat to open up at the short table is the seat to be filled).
- In later stages of tournament play, tables will be balanced at the Tournament Director's discretion.
Button – A draw for the button will be held at one table at the beginning of each event and also for restarts, redraws and at the Final Table. This draw will determine the button position for the entire tournament field.
- Dead Button – All events will be played using a dead button. Dead button is defined as a button that cannot be advanced due to elimination of a player or the seating of a new player into a position between the small blind and the button.
- Heads Up Button – During heads up play, the small blind is on the button and acts first. When beginning heads-up play, the button may need to be adjusted to ensure no player takes the big blind twice.
- Incorrect Button – If the Dealer button was incorrectly placed and it is discovered after substantial action (Rule #29) has taken place, play will continue and the button will move clockwise for the next deal. If it is discovered before substantial action, the hand will be declared a misdeal and the button will be corrected.
Chip Race – When it is time to colour-up chips, they will be raced off with a maximum of one chip going to any player. The chip race will always start at the first player left of the Dealer. A player cannot be raced out of a tournament. In the event that a player has only one chip remaining and if that player loses the race, he or she will be given one chip of the smallest denomination still in play. Players found to have lower denomination chips remaining in their stack after the chip race will forfeit those chips unless they are equivalent in value to a chip still in play. Players are encouraged to witness the chip race.
Discretionary Colour-Up – Tournament staff reserve the right to colour-up any player at any time at their sole discretion. The player has the right to witness the colour-up and is encouraged to do so. Discretionary colour-ups should be announced to the players so they may stay and watch the colour-up if they choose to.
Odd Chips – In split-pot games, the odd chip(s) will go to the high hand. In flop games, when there are two or more high hands or two or more low hands, the odd chip(s) will go to the first eligible hand to the left of the button. In stud games, the odd chip will go to the high card by suit. However, when hands have identical value, the pot will be split as evenly as possible. In Omaha/Stud 8 or Better, the pot will be split down to the lowest denomination chip in play. If an odd chip exists as a result from the first split of a pot, it will be awarded to the high hand. If an additional odd chip results from the split of the high or low hands, it will be awarded to the player in the worse position (i.e. closest to the left of the button). For Stud games, the odd chip will go to the high hand. In cases where there is a split high or split low pot, the odd chip will go to the high card by suit of the two splitting hands.
Visible Cards, Chips and Stack Counts – Players must keep their cards visible at all times. Players are entitled to a reasonable estimation of an opponent’s chip count; thus chips should be kept in countable stacks. PokerStars Live recommends clean stacks in multiples of 20 as an industry standard. Players must keep their highest denomination chips visible at all times.
- Players are only entitled to an exact count of actual bets and may only receive a full countdown of an opponent’s chips if that player has bet all in.
Moving Chips – All chips must be transported in chip racks and remain visible at all times. Players may not hold or transport tournament chips in any manner that takes them out of view. A player who does so may forfeit the chips and could face disqualification. The forfeited chips will be taken out of play.
Deck Changes – Deck changes will be on the Dealer push, or as determined by PokerStars Live. Players may not ask for deck changes.
Folded Hands – A hand is considered folded upon being touched to the Dealer “muck”, the burn cards, the board, or the discard pile while face down, by either the player or the Dealer. Utilizing Rule #1, the Floor Personnel may retrieve a technically mucked hand and declare it live if they believe there is good cause to do so and the correct hand is clearly retrievable. When facing a bet, a player who releases their cards with a distinct forward motion will be deemed to have folded their hand. The decision of the Floor Personnel is final.
- Out of turn folds will be binding provided the circumstances described in Rule #27 are met.
Disputed and Killing Hands - The right to dispute a hand ends when the new hand begins. A new hand begins with the first riffle. For tables using a shuffle machine, the start of a new hand will be determined by the dealer pushing the retrieve deck button.
- Killing Hands - A Dealer cannot kill a winning hand that was tabled and was obviously the winning hand. Players are encouraged to assist in reading tabled hands if it appears that an error is about to be made.
- Unprotected Hands - If a Dealer kills an unprotected hand, the player will have no redress and will not be entitled to any refund. An exception could be if a player raised and the raise had not been called yet, that player could be entitled to receive the raise amount back. However, if the raise has been called, that player could be eliminated.
Side Pots - Each side pot will be split as a separate pot. Pots will not be mixed together before they are split. Players may not touch the pot for any reason.
Calling for Clock - Once a reasonable amount of time has passed, a player may request a clock. Upon the Floor Personnel approving the request, the player will be given one total minute to act. This minute will consist of a 50 second time limit, and if action has not taken place, there will be a 10 second countdown. If a player has not acted on his hand by the time the countdown is over, the hand will be dead. Tournament Supervisors reserve the right to speed-up the amount of time allotted for a clock if it appears that a player is deliberately stalling. Any player believed to be deliberately stalling the progress of the game may incur a penalty.
- For PokerStars Live tournaments with a level time of twenty minutes or less, the clock will be twenty-five seconds, followed by a five second countdown.
- In case of a perceived tie between the countdown and the player’s action, that tie will customarily go to the player, pending review under Rule #1.
End of Day Play – For tournaments over multiple days, the following procedure will be used to prevent stalling. Between 15 and five minutes remaining in the last level of play, the Tournament Director will stop the clock. A player will draw a card between three and seven and that will be the number of hands remaining to be played in that day. The Tournament Director will announce the number of hands remaining to be played to the field and all tables will play this number of hands, beginning on the next riffle or push of the retrieve deck button on a shuffle machine, before completing that days play.
Hand-for-Hand Play – Approaching the point at which prize money will be distributed (the “Money Bubble”); the tournament will switch to a hand-for-hand procedure. Once the Tournament Director has announced hand-for-hand play, all tables will finish the hand they are currently playing and stop the action. Once all tables have completed that hand, the Dealer at each table will deal one hand only and upon completion of that hand, stop the action again. This will continue until enough players have been eliminated to reach the prize money stage of the tournament.
- Called All-In – During hand-for-hand play, when a Dealer has a called all-in at their table, they are instructed to freeze all action remaining at that table, including asking the players to not reveal their hands. This All-In Table will wait to finish its hand until all other tables remaining in the tournament have completed that specific hand. At that point, Floor Personnel will attend the All-In table and instruct them to complete the hand. In the case of multiple tables having called all-ins, they will all be paused and played out one at a time until all tables have completed that specific hand.
- If two or more players are eliminated during the same hand at different tables, all players will “tie” for that place finish.
- If two or more players are eliminated during the same hand at the same table, the player who began that hand with the highest chip count will receive the higher place finish.
New Tournament Level – When time has elapsed in a round and a new round is announced by a member of the Tournament staff, the new limits apply to the next hand. A new hand begins with the first riffle. When using a shuffle machine, the new hand will be determined by the dealer pushing the retrieve deck button.
At Your Seat – A player must be at his or her seat when the dealer delivers the last card to the button in order to have a live hand. Dealers are instructed to muck the hands of players not at their seats immediately after the final card is dealt to the button, or in Stud Games, the final up card is dealt on third street. Players must be at their seats to call time. “At your seat” is defined as being within reach of your chair. In case of doubt, Floor Personnels' decision is final.
- Stud games – Note that the rules of Stud can force a player with a killed hand to bring in for the low bet and to receive additional cards. This will be enforced.
Action Pending – Players must remain at the table if they are still an active player in a live hand. This includes being all-in. If you are all-in, you should remain at the table and not go to the rail, wander the room, talk to the media, etc... If a player leaves the table while actively involved in a hand they may be assessed a penalty.
Raise Limit – There is no cap on the number of raises in no-limit games. In limit events the maximum number of bets will be the house rule. If there is no house rule, it will be one bet and three raises. Once the tournament becomes heads-up, the number of raises becomes unlimited.
String Bets – Dealers will be responsible for calling string bets or raises. All players at the table are encouraged to assist in calling a string bet or raise if a Dealer fails to identify it. String bets and raises called by a player must be verified by a Floor Personnel. A string bet or raise is defined as attempting a bet or raise in multiple movements that may include a return to a player’s stack without a prior verbal declaration of intent or visual deception intended to induce action out of turn before a player’s action is complete.
Substantial Action – Substantial action is either any two actions in turn, at least one of which puts chips in the pot; or any combination of three actions in turn (check, bet, raise, call or fold).
Verbal and Physical Action in Turn (including Undercalls) - Verbal declarations in turn regarding wagers are binding. All chips put into the pot in turn stay in the pot. Players must act in turn at all times.
- Undercall – An undercall (betting less than the current call amount) is a mandatory full call if made facing an opening bet multi-way on any betting round, or facing a bet heads-up. In all situations, TD discretion applies. For purposes of this rule, in blind games the posted big blind is the opening bet on the first round
Verbal and Physical Action out of Turn (inclusive of Undercall) – Verbal declarations in turn regarding wagers are binding. All chips put into the pot in turn stay in the pot. Players must act in turn at all times. Players who intentionally act out of turn to influence play before them may receive a penalty. Action (both verbal and physical) out of turn may be binding if the action to that player has not changed. A call, check or fold will not be considered action changing. If action does change, the out of turn bet will be considered non-binding and will be returned to the out of turn player. The out of turn player will then have all their betting options (call, fold, raise) restored to them.
- If a player has raised and his or her hand is killed before the raise is called, the player may be entitled to the raise back, but will forfeit the amount of the call.
Accepted Action – It is the caller’s responsibility to determine the correct amount of an opponent’s bet before calling, regardless of what is stated by others. If a caller requests a count but receives incorrect information from a dealer or player, then pushes out that amount, the caller has accepted the full correct action & is subject to the correct wager or all-in amount. As with all tournament situations, Rule 1 may apply at TD’s discretion.
Oversized Chips - Putting a single oversized chip into the pot will be considered a call if the player doesn’t announce a raise. If a player puts an oversized chip into the pot and says, “Raise,” but doesn’t state the amount, the raise will be the maximum allowable up to the denomination of that chip. To make a raise with a single oversized chip, a verbal declaration must be made before the chip hits the table surface. After the flop, if you are the first player to make a bet and you use a single oversized chip without comment, it will signify a bet equal to the size of the chip.
Multiple Chips – When facing a bet, unless a raise is first declared, multiple same-denomination chips is a call if removing one chip leaves less than the call amount. For example, with the blinds at 200-400, player A makes it 1200 (an 800 raise), player B puts out two 1000 chips without declaring raise, thus making it a call. If player B had put out four 500 chips, then he or she would have raised to 2000 (another 800 raise).
Raising – It is the player’s responsibility to make his intentions clear. Players are strongly encouraged to verbally declare their exact bet or raise amount. In no-limit or pot-limit, a raise must be made by...
- Placing the full amount in the pot in one motion.
- Verbally declaring the full amount prior to the initial placement of chips into the pot.
- Verbally declaring “raise” prior to the placement of the amount to call into the pot and then completing the action with one additional motion back to the player’s stack.
Half-Bet Raising – If a player puts in a raise of 50 percent or more of the previous bet but less than the minimum raise, he or she will be required to make a full raise. The raise will be exactly the minimum raise allowed. If a player puts in a raise of less than 50 percent of the previous bet, without verbally announcing “raise”, he or she will be required to call the previous bet.
All-In Raising – An all-in wager of less than a full raise does not re-open the betting to the previous bettor.
All-In with Hidden Chips – An acknowledged all-in wager commits a player’s entire stack to the hand, including any hidden chips. However, the all-in player is not allowed to benefit from the hidden chips.
- Example – Player A goes all in for 21,000 and player B calls with a stack of 100,000. Upon pushing the chips to the middle, player A discovers two 1,000 chips under his arm. If player A wins the pot, he or she will only be paid 21,000 in chips. If he or she is eliminated from the tournament on that hand, his opponent will receive the entire 23,000 stack.
- Exception – Player A goes all-in for 50,000 and player B calls with a stack of 55,000. Upon pushing the chips to the middle, player A discovers a 10,000 chip under his arm. If player A wins the pot, he or she will only be paid 50,000 in chips. If he or she loses the pot, his opponent will receive the entire 55,000 of his actual stack for the double up.
Verbal Declarations - Cards speak to determine the winner of a hand. Verbal declarations as to the content of a player's hand are not binding; however at Tournament Staff discretion, any player deliberately miscalling his or her hand may be penalized.
All-In Showdown – All cards will be turned face-up once a player is all-in and all action is complete. If a player accidentally folds/mucks their hand before cards are turned up, tournament staff reserves the right to retrieve the cards if they are clearly identifiable. Players intentionally mucking their cards in all-in situations may be subject to a penalty.
- Side Action – In scenarios where multiple players are playing on the side with an all-in player in the main pot, all side pot players who make it to the river showdown will be required to show as well as the all-in player. No player is allowed to fold at river showdown of the side pot with an all-in player in the main pot. The Dealer is instructed to turn up all hands as live and the hands will retain the ability to collect the pot.
Showdown – After all action is completed, the player who made the last aggressive action must show first and it proceeds clockwise. If there was no bet on the final street, then the player who should be first to act in that betting round will now show first (i.e. left of the button for flop games, high hand for Stud, etc…)
- Players may refuse to show their cards in turn and are allowed to fold, thereby relinquishing their claim on the pot.
- Players who refuse to show their hand or fold will be subject to the actions from Rule #53.
Winning hand – A player must show all of their cards to collect the pot. This includes playing the board. If there is only one player remaining with cards, they do not have to show a winning hand to collect the pot. For example, player B bets the river and player A calls. Player B then mucks leaving player A as the only player remaining in the pot with cards. Player A then collects the pot without having to show his or her hand.
- Tabled Hand – A hand is considered tabled when all cards are placed face up on the table. Flashing cards, waving them around, etc... are not considered tabling your hand. Hands will not be read and cannot win the pot until they are tabled.
- Refusal to Show – If a player refuses to show all of their hole cards, the Dealer may not flip the remaining cards over and is instructed to call the Floor Personnel. They will instruct the player to show all his cards or they will be folded. The player will receive a five second countdown before the Floor Personnel will announce the player’s hand as dead and issue a penalty to the player for stalling the progress of play. Other players at the table may not flip the other player’s cards over. If they do, the hand will play as live, but the player who flipped up cards that were not their own may receive a penalty for an etiquette violation.
Showing the Winner – Any player who has made it to the showdown may ask to see any other player’s cards provided they still retain their cards. If they release their hand into the muck, they no longer retain the right to ask to see another player’s cards. All hands requested by showdown players will be turned up live and may still claim the pot. Any player who has not made it to the showdown stage of the hand may not request to see any hands.
- If there is legitimate concern about collusion between individuals, players may request the dealer hold the cards aside and ask the Floor Personnel to review the hand.
6. Penalties and Player Etiquette
Disclosure – Players are obligated to protect the other players in the tournament at all times. Therefore, whether in a hand or not, players may not...
- Disclose contents of live or folded hands.
- Advise or criticize play before the action is completed.
- Read a hand that hasn’t been tabled.
- Discuss hands or strategy with any spectator.
- Seek or receive consultation from an outside source.
- The one-player-to-a-hand rule will be enforced.
Televised Feature Tables and Hole Cards – Players who enter a tournament that is a webcast or televised tournament, are required to cooperate with the filming personnel. This includes showing your hole cards to the card camera on the table. Failure to do so may result in a penalty.
Exposed Cards - A player exposing his or her cards with action pending may incur a penalty. All players at the table are entitled to see any exposed cards.
- Exposing and Mucking –Players who show their cards to a player who has already folded and then fold their cards themselves may receive a penalty. Players doing this repeatedly will be penalized.
Collusion – Poker is an individual game. Soft play, chip dumping, colluding to allow players to survive the bubble (i.e. a table continually folding to the big blind on the bubble), etc... will not be allowed and may be subject to penalties.
Etiquette Violations – Repeated etiquette violations will result in penalties assessed by the tournament staff. Examples include, but are not limited to, unnecessarily touching other players’ cards or chips, delay of the game, repeatedly acting out of turn, splashing chips, intentionally betting out of reach of the Dealer, or excessive chatter. In addition, excessive celebration through extended theatrics, inappropriate behaviour, or physical actions, gestures, or conduct may be penalized. These violations also include abusive behaviour towards other players’ playing styles and/or berating players for how they have played or are playing the tournament.
Foul Language – The abuse of other players, tournament staff, venue staff or other personnel will not be tolerated. Foul, obscene or offensive language directed at any player or staff member may result in a penalty. Repeated non directed foul, obscene or offensive language may also result in a penalty.
All participants must behave in a courteous and civil manner during all Events and in all tournament areas. Any individual who encounters inappropriate behaviour on the part of another individual should immediately contact the Tournament Staff. This shall include, but is not limited to, any player whose personal hygiene or health has become disruptive to the other players seated at their table. The determination as to whether an individual’s personal hygiene or health is disruptive to other players shall be determined by the Tournament Staff which may, in its discretion, implement sanctions upon any such player who refuses to remedy the situation in a manner satisfactory to PokerStars Live.
PokerStars Live and/or the Tournament Director or Tournament Staff may penalize any act that, in the sole and absolute discretion of PokerStars Live and/or the Tournament Director or Tournament Staff, is inconsistent with the official rules or bests interests of the Event.
Penalties – In its sole and absolute discretion, PokerStars Live and/or the Tournament Director or Tournament Staff may impose penalties (listed below) ranging from a verbal warning escalating up to disqualification and exclusion from all PokerStars Live Events. Penalties will be invoked in cases of soft-play, abuse or disruptive behaviour. A penalty may be imposed if a player throws a card off the table, forcefully mucks their cards causing one or all cards to turn over, is repeatedly slow to act, violates the one-player-to-a-hand rule or engages in similar behaviour. Abuse of other players, tournament staff, venue staff or other personnel will not be tolerated.
- Penalties – Will include, but not be limited too – Verbal warning, single or multiple hand penalties, single or multiple orbit penalties (an orbit consists of one hand for every player remaining at that players tournament table – 6 players = 6 hands missed), dead hand, elimination from the event, disqualification from the event (forfeiting any prize monies won), being banned from the event, being excluded from all events run by the tournament sponsor.
- Escalation – Penalties may not always be imposed in a sequential order of severity. Tournament staff may disqualify a player for a first offense if the actions are considered severe enough. Players should know any actions worthy of a penalty may result in a wide range of discipline even for a first offense.
- Missed Hand/Orbit Penalty – The player will be instructed to miss one or more hand(s) or one or more orbit(s) of hands away from the table. The player’s missed hand is counted as part of the round when a penalty is given. Players who receive a missed-hand/orbit penalty of any length must remain outside the designated Tournament area(s) for the length of their penalty. The Dealer must notify the appropriate Floor Personnel when a penalized player returns to their seat.
- Penalties Move – All player penalties move with the player. If player A receives a two orbit penalty (16 hands) at the end of the night and only serves five hands of this penalty, it will be noted and he/she will serve the remaining 11 hands the following day. This holds true for broken tables, seat moves, etc...
- Elimination Penalty – Players eliminated from the tournament will receive the finishing place their elimination equals.
- Example – 15 players left (paying 100 spots), player A is barred from returning to the casino for actions unrelated to the poker tournament. This player will have his chips removed from the event and will be entitled to 15th place.
- Disqualification Penalty – Players who are disqualified from an event shall have their tournament chips removed from play, their buy-ins will remain part of the prize pool and they will be ineligible for any prize monies. The disqualified player must immediately leave the Tournament area(s).
Tournament Property – PokerStars Live Tournament chips have no cash value and are the exclusive property of PokerStars Live and may not be removed from the Tournament area(s) or the assigned event. Players found to be transferring chips from one event to another or from one player to another will be subject to penalties up to and including disqualification and exclusion from all PokerStars Live Events.
Official Language: With respect to Events held in New Jersey by Amaya US, the English-only rule will be enforced at all tables during play. Participants who violate this rule will be subject to penalty, including disqualification.
Right to Cancel: PokerStars Live, together with the organising casino in which the Event will be held, reserve the right to cancel or alter any Event or Tournament at our sole and absolute discretion.