Call the Floor, Jan. 2011: Poker rulings analyzed


Expert advice from poker room managers Jody Russell and Cassie Greene
In a $1-$2 no-limit game in a Florida poker room, both remaining players checked the river on a board of {q-Spades}{9-Spades}{2-Clubs}{2-Diamonds}{5-Hearts}. One player said “nines and twos,” but did not show his cards, and the other player mucked without showing. The dealer pushed the pot to the first player. Should the dealer push the pot without seeing the cards? — mcomikey, via

JODY: The dealer pushed the pot to the only player with live cards. There’s no need to see the cards here. Completely acceptable in my book, but definitely against house procedure in some rooms.

CASSIE: I agree. It is the player’s responsibility to protect his hand. I always wait to see the winning hand for myself before I throw a losing hand away. Once you muck, the other player gets the pot by default.

On the first hand of a new $3-$6 limit game in a Minnesota room, I mucked my hand on the turn. On the river, it went check-bet-call. Winning player showed aces full and the other guy folded. I request to see the hand, and the dealer sort of makes me feel like a jerk as he asks the player to expose his cards. Was I a jerk? — Parrothead77, via

JODY: Asking to see someone’s cards is taboo to me. I was taught we only ask to see someone’s hand if we think there’s the possibility of collusion. Don’t forget poker was invented by a bunch of guys wearing guns. How do you think people reacted in those days to a player requesting to see a hand? These days people have been taught it’s OK to ask out of curiosity. I don’t think you were being a jerk; you simply haven’t had anyone give you a good reason to not ask.

CASSIE: A lot of players don’t realize you’re only supposed to ask to see the hand in these situations if you suspect collusion. Some rooms allow anybody to ask to see a called hand for any reason, and the rule is used inappropriately. I think the dealer should call the floor, and the floor should explain the reason for the rule. Usually I will let the player see the hand as a courtesy, then explain that in the future this cannot be done just for curiosity’s sake.

I know the rules say the dealer button goes with the small blind, but this always causes an argument in my home game. Here’s why: Consider there are three players left in a tournament. Player 1 is the button, Player 2 is the small blind, Player 3 is the big blind. Player 1 gets knocked out. The button moves to Player 2 who was just the small blind, so he should now be the button. Player 3 was just the big blind, so he should be the small blind, so Player 1 on the button has to be the big blind, yes? — Pirate Toot, via email

JODY: That’s a very good point, but the problem is 15 hands into heads-up there’s going to be an argument about whether the big blind or small blind has the button (especially when there’s beer nearby), so we simply give it to the small blind every time. That’s Reason 1. The actual reason for this is because giving the button to the small blind forces the button to act first before the flop. Allowing the big blind to have the button is allowing the same player to act last on every betting round, which is an enormous advantage in heads-up play.

CASSIE: This always gets a bit confusing. Here is an easy way to think about it. When you get down to heads-up, the button pays the small blind. The person who paid the highest blind last, gets the button. Player 3 paid the big-blind last hand, so he gets the button.

— Jody Russell and Cassie Greene are veteran poker room managers who also runs the Ante Up Poker Room. Email them at

TDA Rules

Each month Jody Russell will interpret one rule from the TDA.

DECLARATIONS: Cards speak. Verbal declarations as to the content of a player’s hand are not binding; however, any player deliberately miscalling his or her hand may be penalized.

JODY: A lot of people have thrown winning hands away because they misread their hand or believed someone else who miscalled a hand.
It’s really hard to prove someone has intentionally miscalled their hand, and it’s impossible to justify pushing a pot to someone who mucked their hand without showing down. Always show your hand; that’s the best policy.

MORE TDA RULES: Go to to see all 44 TDA rules.