Tournament Rules

Date of Issue: 06/03/2022


1 Venue Managers  – VM’s consider the best interest of the game and put fairness as the top priority in the decision making process. Unusual circumstances can on occasion dictate their decision in the interest of fairness and take priority over the technical rules. The VM’s decision is final.

2 Under 18’s – Under 18’s may not become involved in games where cash is staked.

3 Conduct - Players who act in a disruptive manner or appear intoxicated may be excluded from play and/or disqualified without refund from tournaments subject to the VM’s discretion. Players shall further be subject to a lifetime ban from 1st Poker League for the above or if subject to Collusive/Illicit conduct.  The 1st Poker League operates a Zero Tolerance approach to physical and verbal abuse, and incidents may be reported to the local police.

4 Official Language - The English-only rule will be enforced in the United Kingdom during our Finals. English will be used during play along with the local or native language, including Welsh and Gaelic, where appropriate.

5 Official Terminology of Tournament Poker - Official terms are simple, unmistakable, time-honoured declarations like: bet, raise, call, fold, check, all-in, and complete. Regional terms may also meet this standard. The use of non-standard language 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.

6 Communication - Players may NOT use the phone whilst at the table, players should move at least a tables length away from their table to talk on the phone, ensuring they do not interfere with another table in play. 

Seating; Breaking & Balancing Tables

7 Random Seating – Tournament and satellite seats will be randomly assigned.

8 Special Needs- Accommodations for players with special needs will be made when possible.

9 Breaking Tables - Players going from a broken table to fill in seats assume the rights and responsibilities of the position. They can get the big blind, the small blind, or the button. The only place they cannot get a hand is between the small blind and the button.

10 Balancing Tables - When possible each table should have equal player numbers, when moving a player from one table to another, it is the player due to be big blind next that is moved. If more than 1 vacant seat, they sit in the 1st seat which is vacant to the left of the big blind (The worst position (worst position is never the small blind)). They assume the new position immediately, including dealer & blinds, unless it interferes with the blind positions of the remaining players, in which case they have to wait for the button to pass.

11 Redraws - re-draws for position & seating shall be under the direction of the Venue Manager only.

Pots / Showdowns

12 Declarations – Cards Speak. Verbal declarations as to the content of a player's hand are not binding; however, any player deliberately miscalling their hand or discussing their own hand shall be penalised.

13 Face Up For All-Ins - All cards will be turned face up once a player is all-in and all betting action for the hand is complete. The dealer & players should insist on timely compliance with this rule.

14 Showdown - At the end of last round of betting, the player who made the last aggressive action in that betting round must show first. If there was no bet, the player to the left of the button shows first and so on clockwise. A player who thinks they have a probable winner is encouraged to show their hand without delay. At Showdown, players must show both hole cards to claim the pot or part of the pot. If all other players have folded when facing a bet or raise, a player may show any portion of their hole cards without having to show the remainder; provided they hold the only live hand remaining at the table.

15 Side Pots - Each side pot will be split separately.

16 Contested Showdown / Playing the Board - All hole cards must be shown to win a contested showdown even if playing the board.

17 Uncontested Showdown - In a non all-in showdown, when all opponent(s) cards have been mucked without being revealed, the last live hand wins. Opponents who muck at showdown without revealing their hands also lose the right to ask to see the winning hand.

18 Asking to See a Hand - Asking to see a hand is a privilege granted at VM’s discretion to protect the integrity of the game (suspicion of invalid hand, collusion, etc). This privilege is not to be abused.

19 Killing Winning Hand - Dealers 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.

20 Awarding Odd Chips - The odd chip goes to the player closest to the big blind (clockwise)

21 Side Pots - Each side pot will be split separately.

22 Disputed Pots - The right to dispute a hand ends when a new hand begins. (See New Hand)

General Procedures

23 New Hand & New Limits - When time has elapsed in a round and a new level is announced by a member of the tournament staff or software, the new level applies to the next hand. If an automatic shuffler is being used, the hand begins when the green button is pushed. Posting blinds in lieu shall not qualify for retention of the previous level.

24 Colour up / Chip race – For pub/venue league games chipping up may take place, meaning when the Venue Manager "chips up" any player with an odd number of chips, will receive a chip of the higher value. e.g. When the '25' chips are no longer in play, a player with an odd 25,50 or 75 chips will receive one '100' chip in return. Players should arrange the chips to be chipped up into piles of the correct amount to assist the VM. To ensure a correct count you should be present during the chip up. Errors made when the player is not present will not be corrected. 

25 Chipstacks Kept Visible & Countable - Players are entitled to a reasonable estimation of an opponent's chip count; thus chips should be kept in countable stacks. The VM recommends clean stacks in multiples of 10 as a standard. Players must keep their higher denomination chips visible and identifiable at all times. Venue Managers will control the number & denomination of chips in play and may colour up at their discretion. Discretionary colour ups are to be announced.

26 Deck Changes – Deck changes will be as prescribed by the house. Players may not ask for a change of deck, unless a deck is damaged.

28 Viewing Community Cards - No viewing is allowed.  Viewing community cards is revealing any cards “that would have come” if the hand had not ended.

29 The Shuffle – The player to the left of the button shall shuffle the deck then offer the deck  to the player to their immediate right of the button, for the final cut.

30 Who Starts as the dealer – 1 card is dealt to all players the player with the highest card starts as the dealer. If 2 or more players receive the same highest card then another card will be dealt.

Player Present / Eligible for Hand

31 At Your Seat - A player must be at their seat by the time all cards have been dealt in order to have a live hand. A player must be at their seat to call time.

32 Action Pending - A player must remain at the table if he has a live hand, including folding your hand pre-flop.

Button / Blinds

33 Dead Button - Tournament play will use a dead button, also known as a ‘ghost dealer.’

34 Dodging Blinds - A player who intentionally dodges any blind when moving from a broken table will incur a penalty.

35 Button in Heads-up - In heads-up play, the small blind is on the button and acts first pre-flop. The other player acts first post flop. When beginning heads-up play, the button may need to be adjusted to ensure no player takes the big blind twice in a row.

Dealing Rules

36 Misdeals -  Misdeals include but are not necessarily limited to: a) exposure of one of the first two cards dealt; b) two or more exposed cards; c) first card dealt to the wrong seat; d) a seat entitled to a hand is dealt out.

37 Early Flop Error - If the flop is turned over before betting action is complete, then it must not play, even where the player still to act folds. Subsequent streets must remain however as if no error had occurred.  The burn cards, turn and river cards should be placed face down on the table, and the flop be placed back into the stub (not the burn card) and reshuffled with the remaining stub cards and a new flop issued without burning another card once action is complete, the turn and river can then be issued without them being altered by the flop error. If only one or two cards were prematurely exposed only they should be re-shuffled, with as many board cards remaining intact as possible.

38 Four-Card Flop - If the flop contains 4 (rather than 3) cards, whether exposed or not, the dealer shall scramble the 4 cards face down. The venue manager will be called to randomly select one card to be used as the next burn card and the remaining 3 cards will become the flop.

39 Turn Error- If the dealer turns the fourth (turn) card on the board before the betting round is complete, the card which was improperly dealt shall be set aside, and the dealer shall burn and place the river facedown. After the turn betting is completed, the dealer shall then shuffle the improperly dealt card back into the deck, and shall deal a turn card without burning. The card that was burned before the improper dealing shall not be included in the shuffle. (See Substantial Action 37)

40 River Error - If the fifth card (river) is turned up prematurely, the turn betting is correctly completed, the dealer shall shuffle the improperly dealt card back into the deck, then turn a new river card without burning. (See Substantial Action 37)

Play: Bets & Raises

41 Verbal Declarations / Acting in Turn - Verbal declarations in turn are binding.  Players are required to act in turn.  Action out of turn examples :

Calling out of turn – If player 4 calls, before player 3 has acted, then player 4 is committed to the call. However if player 3 then raises, player 4 must either call the raise or fold and lose the chips of their initial call.

Raising out of turn – If Player 4 raises before player 3 acts, player 4 is committed to the amount of raise declared, or a minimum raise if no amount is stated. However if player 3 then raises, player 4 can only call the raise of player 3 or  fold and lose the chips of their initial raise.

All in out of turn – If a player states “all in” or puts all of their chips into play they are then committed to this action.

Players who repeatedly act out of turn will be penalised.

42 Methods of Raising- In no-limit or pot-limit, a raise must be made by (1) placing the full amount in the pot in one motion; or (2) verbally declaring the full amount prior to the initial placement of chips into the pot; or (3) verbally declaring “raise” prior to the placement of the amount to call into the pot and then completing the action with one additional motion. It is the player's responsibility to make his intentions clear. String Bets and Raises are not allowed. String betting is when a player places chips into the pot, in more than one movement.

43 Raises  - A raise must be at least the size of the largest previous bet or raise of the current betting round. Pre flop the 1st player to raise must at least double the size of the big blind. (example blinds 100/200 first player raises to 500 total, the next raise must be at least 300 more (800 total).  If a player puts in a raise of 50% or more of the previous bet but less than the minimum raise, he or she must make a full raise. The raise will be exactly the minimum raise allowed. An all-in wager of less than a full raise does not reopen the betting to a player who has already acted. There is no cap on the number of raises in no-limit games.

44 Chip Movement - Chip release is employed as the method for betting and raising, forward motion may be binding if another player acts on it – for example a player may lift a full stack (20) chips then cut off 10 chips and withdraw the remainder, where a player moves their stack or part of their stack forward and this causes a reaction from another player still to act, this action may be binding, subject to the Venue Manager’s discretion.

45 Oversized Chip Betting - Anytime when facing a bet or blind, placing a single oversized chip in the pot is a call if a raise isn’t first verbally declared. To raise with an oversized chip, raise must be declared before the chip hits the table surface. If raise is declared (but no amount), the raise is the maximum allowable for that chip. When not facing a bet, placing an oversized chip in the pot without declaration is a bet of the maximum for the chip.

46 Multiple Chip Betting - 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. Example of a call: preflop, blinds are 200-400: A raises to 1200 total (an 800 raise), B puts out two 1000 chips without declaring raise. This is just a call because removing one 1000 chip leaves less than the amount needed to call the 1200 bet. Placing mixed denomination chips in the pot is governed by the 50% standard in Rule ‘Raises (43)’.

47 Number of Raises in Limit and No-Limit - There is no cap on the number of raises in no-limit.

48 Accepted Action - Poker is a game of alert, continuous observation. It is the caller’s responsibility to determine the correct amount of an opponent’s bet before calling, regardless of what is stated by the dealer or players. If a caller requests a count but receives incorrect information from the dealer or players, then places that amount in the pot, the caller is assumed to accept the full correct action & is subject to the correct wager or all-in amount. Rule 1 may apply in certain situations at tournament director’s discretion.

49 Pot Size & Pot-Limit Bets - Dealers will not count the pot in limit and no-limit games. Declaring “I bet the pot” is not a valid bet in no-limit but it does bind the player to making a bet of a valid amount. In No-limit and Limit games players may request the pot be spread in order to make it more easily counted.

50 String Bets and Raises - Dealers will be responsible for calling string bets and raises.

51 Non-Standard & Unclear Betting - Players use unofficial betting terms and gestures at their own risk. These may be interpreted to mean other than what the player intended. Also, whenever the size of a declared bet can have multiple meanings, it will be ruled as the lesser value. Example: “I bet five”. If it is unclear whether “five” means $500 or $5,000, the bet stands as $500. See Rules ‘Official Terminology (5)’ & ‘Methods of Raising (42).’

52 Non-Standard Folds – Any time before the end of the last betting round of a hand, folding in turn when facing a check or folding out of turn are both binding folds and may be subject to penalty.

53 Conditional Statements - Conditional statements regarding future action are strongly discouraged; they may be binding and/or subject to penalty. Example:  “if – then” statements such as "If you bet, then I will raise”.

Play: Other

54 Chips in Transit - Players may not hold or transport tournament chips in any manner that takes them out of view. A player who does so will forfeit the chips and will face disqualification. The forfeited chips will be taken out of play.

55 Accidentally Killed / Fouled Hands - Players must protect their own hands at all times. If a dealer kills a hand by mistake, or a hand is fouled, the player will have no redress and is not entitled to a refund of bets. If the player initiated a bet or raise and hasn’t been called, the uncalled bet or raise will be returned to the player.

56 Handling of chips/Cards - Only the dealer or the VM may touch the board / burn cards and chips in the pot.

Etiquette & Penalties

57 Penalties and Disqualification - In addition to penalty scenarios described above, a penalty will be invoked if a player exposes any card with action pending, throws a card off the table, violates the one-player-to-a-hand rule, or similar incidents take place. Penalties WILL be invoked in cases of soft play, abuse, or disruptive behaviour. The penalties are: 5-10 players at table, a one round sit out or 2-4 players a 2 round sit out. VM’s may also give verbal warnings for incidents which are quite obviously done by accident and not to gain an advantage. For the period of the penalty, the offender shall remain away from the table but will continue to be dealt in.

No Disclosure - Players are obligated to protect other players in the tournament at all times. Players, whether in the hand or not, may not:

Disclose contents of live or folded hands;

Advise or criticise play at any time;

Read a hand that hasn't been tabled.

The one-player-to-a-hand rule will be enforced

58 Exposing Cards - A player who exposes his cards with action pending will incur a penalty, but will not have a dead hand. The penalty will begin at the end of the hand.

59 Ethical Play - Poker is an individual game. Soft play will result in penalties, which may include forfeiture of chips and/or disqualification. Chip dumping and/or all other forms of collusion will result in disqualification.

60 Etiquette Violations - Repeated etiquette violations will result in penalties. Examples include, but are not limited to, unnecessarily touching other players’ cards or chips, delay of the game or repeatedly acting out of turn.

Late Arrivals and Leaving

63 Late Registration & Late Arrival – Late Registration & Late Arrival – Late Registration is available up to the first break period for league games, but shall be penalised by a chip reduction as follows: Level 1 10%, Level 2 20%, Level 3 30% etc until the break. Players must be present before the break starts to register.

64 Player Leaving – Where a player leaves the VM shall remove their chips if they are satisfied they are not returning.  If a player leaves they have until the end of the next blind level to return before their chips are automatically removed and they will be eliminated from the tournament 


65 Player Images - All players participating in any 1st Poker League tournament or event agree to their image / likeness being published by 1st Poker League for promotional purposes including but not limited to the website, social media, newsletter leaflets and marketing materials.