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A Look at House Rules: Lockups

  • Linda GeenenLinda Geenen
A Look at House Rules: Lockups 0001

When you go on your initial live casino poker playing adventure and find yourself approaching the list person’s desk or podium for the first time, it can be intimidating. While the exhilaration and excitement of matching your skill and wits against other players is coursing through your veins, your senses are slammed with the sound of chip clatter, blaring microphones, and player conversations.

It’s a lot to take in. The poker room resembles an anthill as players come and go, chip runners bring fills to the dealer’s bank and player’s chips to the tables, cocktail servers move through the crowd with full trays, dealers change tables, and poker room management hovers to oversee any issues and assure the room runs exactly as a well-oiled, live poker machine should. Prepare yourself accordingly and pay attention!

Something you might encounter when first putting your name on a list to play — and something you might not be aware of, especially if you're distracted by all the activity going on around you — is to hear someone use the word “lockup.” If you do, you don’t have to worry about jail time and handcuffs, but rather know that has something to do the assignment of seats. Here’s how it works...

Say the lists are full and you put your name on several, and wait. And wait. And wait. With the noise and normal commotion that makes poker what it is, if you aren’t paying attention, you could miss your name being called. But if you leave a “lockup” with the list person, that “lockup” will hold your seat for an additional number of minutes if you happen to leave the room for a short time and be away when your name is called.

The amount of such a “lockup” is usually $20, but that can vary from room to room — and yes, you always get your money back from the list person. A “lockup” can typically ensure your seat is held for 20 minutes, although the length of time also depends on the room.

“Lockups” can come into play in another way. If you and a friend hit the poker room together and are set on playing with each other in the same game, list sizes or seating availability may mean you get seated at different tables.

At that point, the next move is to put your friend’s name on a transfer list to your table. If you know your friend is next on the transfer list and a seat opens in your game, you can either put cash or chips down in the empty seat as you tell the dealer that your friend is on the transfer list and will be coming shortly.

Putting down a “lockup” eliminates a lot of headaches. The dealer still must call the seat open and then verify “player in” with the list person when your friend comes over, but the “lockup” takes the confusion out of the equation.

A “lockup” has another useful purpose as well. If you’ve requested a specific seat change at your table (the house may have a button designating seat change order), be sure to tell each incoming dealer of your request if the outgoing dealer doesn’t relay the message. As soon as your seat change opens, toss a chip into it. That removes the possibility of someone else taking possession of the seat because you have, in essence, locked it up.

Home Games: The need for a “lockup” in most home games is non-existent in this writer’s opinion, but just to be on the safe side, you might ask your host about it if this is your first visit to the game. Most home games are fun, friendly, and played with the same group of players each time, but some are conducted like a business and attract more serious players, so check to make sure.

Online Poker: “Lockups” are not possible in online poker. You venture into the online poker lobby with your game filters set to take you to your favorites and put your name on the list. Online poker can be just as fun and exciting as playing in a casino poker room, but your funds are either in your account or in your seat at the table, thus leaving no room for error.

Next we'll move on to talk about "pick ups," a consequence of players leaving their seats for too long.

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