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A Look at House Rules: Misdeals

A Look at House Rules: Misdeals 0001

Misdeals aren’t quite as painful when you look down at {7-}{2-}-offsuit while playing in your favorite no-limit hold’em game. But when you peek down at your hole cards and find aces and the dealer says, “It’s a misdeal, send them in!” it stings a bit.

What is a misdeal? A misdeal is called by the dealer or the house when the initial dealing round has a deviation from the standard procedure that can affect the outcome of the hand.

The funny part of misdeals is that substantial action (discussed in our last “Look at House Rules”) can help decide whether or not a hand is classed as misdeal. As we discussed, substantial action is best described as “a time limit set by a poker room to allow it to correct an error” and normally requires two or three players acting on their hands either by checking, raising, folding, or betting.

Let's look at some examples of misdeals, keeping in mind the fact that if substantial action has yet to occur, the hand may still be allowed to proceed if a correction can be made.

Examples of deviations that would constitute a misdeal:

  • If the dealer did not shuffle the deck and cut before dealing the next hand.
  • If the button or blinds are not correct when the initial round of cards are dealt.
  • If a player has asked to be dealt in or is supposed to receive a hand but is dealt out.
  • If a player has asked to be dealt out but is dealt in.
  • If a player has posted an ante or blind or is on the button and is dealt out.
  • If a player didn’t post his or her blind and is dealt in. Note: The situation of a player or new player being dealt in without posting can be remedied by that player posting a blind. Also of note, if a player is required to post a blind to take a hand and has acted on the hand without posting, that player will be required to post a blind on the next hand.
  • If each player does not receive the proper card(s). Note: If this can be corrected by moving the card to the correct position and the cards have not been looked at, then it is not a misdeal.
  • If the game is stud-based and a dead seat receives a hand and the cards cannot be moved to the correct seat.
  • If a player receives too few cards, unless that player could receive the top card of the deck as a replacement card.
  • If a player receives too many cards, unless the last card dealt is unseen and would replace/become the burn card, in which case it is then returned to the top of the deck.

Of course, while house rules vary from poker room to poker room, if you’re playing poker with us, we might scream, “MISDEAL!” when we look at {9-}{4-}-offsuit for the 50th time in our playing session. But on the serious side, many players may call misdeal when it really isn’t a misdeal in the room you’re playing. In other words, don’t instantly dump your hand because you heard someone make a comment. Hold your hand until the dealer calls it a misdeal.

At times, depending on how the action comes down, poker room management will allow the hand to continue and try to sort it out in the following hand. An example would be a new player being dealt in without posting the blind. If the new player looked at his or her cards and then made the decision to continue with the hand or fold — and the dealer or other players didn’t catch the error in time — the new player would be forced to post a blind on the following hand to continue playing.

Home Games

In most home games the deal rotates from player to player around the table and the button belongs to the player who is physically dealing the hand. Not all home game players are good at paying attention to detail when it comes to who posted the blind and many do not have the skill to deal a hand without exposing cards. It is our belief that misdeals could be much more frequent in a home game, but that doesn’t take away the fun or excitement of jumping into a seat with your friends every week.

If your home game has a lot of exposed cards and mistakes and your host doesn’t have a standard set of rules to cover them, go to work and talk over a set of rules that will fit with your group. You don’t want to ruin the fun and festivities by being known as “The Rule Police,” but a little effort from everyone can keep the game running smoothly. Remember, the only downside to a misdeal is if you let it affect your play. Move on to the next hand and enjoy the game.

Online Poker

What are the odds that you would ever encounter a misdeal in online poker? We’d like to say “NEVER!” but they have occurred. For example, in one unusual circumstance that happened at partypoker back in September 2005, we have email confirmation of a misdeal:

We apologize for the disruption you encountered at ‘Bad Beat Jackpot #1055710′ table on 09/05/2005.

Our records indicate that you had $124.75 at the start of that game. As a result of the disruption, that game has been construed as a ‘misdeal′ and we have refunded the money back to your Account.

We greatly appreciate your support and thank you for playing at PartyPoker.com.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our Customer Care Department is open 24/7 and we look forward to serving you.

Sincerely Yours,

If you′re curious to learn more about this rare online misdeal, you can read the full story of it here.

Out of the millions of hands that are dealt every day in online poker, our best guess is that you will never experience a misdeal. The best way to find out is to get in and play and if you do come across a misdeal, please post a comment and a link to a screen shot if possible and the email from the online poker site. Share the fun with us!

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