A Look at House Rules: Games in Progress, Limit and Format Changes
In our “A Look at House Rules” series, the majority of our house rules have been focused on poker rooms that run a variety of limits, from small-stakes to nose-bleed. But all of the poker rooms you may visit in your poker-playing career certainly cannot be lumped into that category. Many poker rooms run small-stakes only while others just have small- to mid-stakes available.
A high-limit room that’s filled with the hustle and bustle of poker action 24/7 will have many more options available to players than will a small poker room. Even so, always keep in mind that poker players are ingenious and will come up with ways to design action games and increase the limit to their liking — even in small poker rooms.
The following information will prepare you for some of the limit and game format changes you might encounter while playing in your favorite poker room or when visiting a new one.
Poker room management establishes limits and game formats that are tailored to the locale of the room. It would be senseless to set up a list of house rules for $1,000/$2,000 mixed games when all of the locals never play higher than $10/$20 and mixed games are rarely in demand.
Almost all house rules, then, regardless of game limits, are created to cover all of the possible exceptions that could occur on any given day. Those exceptions could include both limit changes and format changes in established games.
Limit changes in established games
Once a game has been established with a specific limit, if the players want to raise the limit or add an ante to the game, it’s up to poker room management to allow the limit change but it’s also customary for a poll to be taken among all the active players to see if they agree. The standard is usually that if two players object the limit will not be changed, but with only one objection the limit would be changed if the limits were going to double the existing stakes. If the limit change being proposed is for less than double the existing stakes, it would take objections from three players to keep the limit change from going into effect.
Keep in mind that if possible, management can simply start a higher stakes game if the demand is high enough while also maintaining a game at the original limit, too. Management will not break one strong game to start another unless they believe the demand is great enough to sustain the games.
On the subject of limit changes, smaller rooms will occasionally allow “overs” for players who want to play a higher limit when poker room traffic is not strong enough to supply the demand for game formats with a variety of limits. Here’s how “overs” work:
You jump into a friendly little $4/$8 fixed-limit hold’em game and as you’re buying chips, you’re asked if you want to play “overs” by the dealer. Almost before you can wipe the surprised look from your face, the table captain and a few others start explaining that you can stay safe and secure in the $4/$8 limit if you want, but if you would rather play $8/$16 limit it’s available if you accept “overs.” All players who are playing “overs” have a button in front of them to designate that whenever players with a button are the only ones in the pot, the limit becomes $8/$16. If you choose to play $4/$8 limit and a player with an “overs” button is in the hand with you, that player must play $4/$8.
A game played with “overs” is simply a means to allow multiple limits in the same game and hopefully keep the game running with happy players.
Game format changes in established games
In the event that you want to add a mixed-game format to your table, you have to get the consent of all the players at the table and establish which games will be part of the rotation before you bring poker room management into the picture. Again, it would be up to management to approve the change. The same conditions would apply if you were already playing a mixed game and wanted to remove or add a game to the mix.
In high traffic poker rooms, management will try to preserve the games in progress. If adding a new game to an existing mixed game would require starting a new game (due to established players who do not want to add another game), the new game would normally have to be double the stakes of the game in progress to prevent the new game from breaking the established game.
Management may decide to allow the addition of a second game format to the established game to preserve the game. An example would be adding no-limit hold’em to a fixed-limit hold’em game, or pot-limit Omaha to an Omaha Hi/Lo game.
If you’re wondering how you would be able to play a variety of game formats in the same game, it works like this:
The dealer usually has a stack of eight numbered buttons kept in the middle tubes of the chip rack. Each time the deck is cut for the next hand, the dealer moves a button; the game changes when all the buttons have been moved. In high-stakes poker rooms that run a variety of mixed-game formats, there are also plaques placed on the table stacked in the order of games being played. These plaques remind both players and the dealer which game format is in progress. Games could include deuce-to-seven triple draw, Omaha Hi/Lo, pot-limit Omaha, razz, five-card draw, Badugi, no-limit and fixed-limit hold’em, seven-card stud, and more.
Home games are the spice that’s sprinkled on the foam of limit and format changes. Most home game formats are not centered around a fixed-limit version of hold’em. If you play regularly in a home game, you know that all the insane game formats may surface at any time — games like Baseball, Chicago, Follow the Queen, Roll Your Own, and others, many with wild cards in the mix.
Tip: If you’re new to home games, get ready for the ride and be prepared to tighten up your game play until you get a feel for unfamiliar game formats and have made some mental notes on how the other players handle the changes.
Changing limits or playing in a mixed game format online is as easy as picking the one you want and jumping into the action. Online poker room management has already established formats for table limits and games played, but you can always send a suggestion to your favorite online poker room’s support team if you would like to see something new added.
The real beauty of playing online poker is the ease of changing limits and game formats with the click of a mouse. For example, get a taste of a mixed-game format at PokerStars by playing the popular 8-Game Mix.