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A Look at House Rules: Dealing Too Many Cards

  • Linda GeenenLinda Geenen
A Look at House Rules: Dealing Too Many Cards 0001

No matter how sharp or accomplished the dealer is, your attention to what the dealer is doing is required if you want to improve your game and increase your skill level. That includes helping your dealer if you notice anything that needs correcting. Part of your job at the table is to make sure the number of hole cards you are dealt is correct and the hand is dealt — and plays out — with the correct number of cards delivered to each player throughout the hand.

What are the odds that dealers might give you too many hole cards during the deal, or put up too many cards on the flop?

Our canned response is “Fifty-fifty! Either they will or they won’t!”

It does happen, however. Incidentally, if the card room you’re playing in uses plastic cards and it’s raining outside, the odds change because plastic cards have a tendency to stick together when they collect moisture.

Let’s talk today about how the house handles this particular situation of too many cards being dealt.

What happens if too many cards are dealt to a player?

House rules may dictate several options:

  • If the additional card is discovered immediately and can be identified as the last one dealt to the player, the card can be moved one position over to the next player.
  • If the last player to receive cards is dealt an extra card, that card would become the burn card.
  • If the additional card cannot be precisely identified and the action hasn’t started, the hand is a misdeal.
  • If substantial action has taken place before the additional card is discovered, the player’s hand is dead and the hand will continue. The question of any money contributed to the pot by the player with the fouled hand would have to be settled by a floor person. If the player anted, that amount would be returned to the player.

What happens if too many cards are dealt on the flop?

The answer to this one also depends on the particular house rule employed by the card room. Yes, we know that’s a bit lame for a response, but different rooms will handle the extra flop card(s) differently. Here are a couple of possible scenarios and solutions you may encounter:

  • If the order of the flop can be produced correctly, the additional card will simply be the burn card for fourth street (the same rule would apply if an additional card was dealt for fourth or fifth street).
  • If the order of the flop cannot be produced correctly, all of the cards appearing on the flop (including the extra one or more) would be reshuffled with the stub and a new flop will be dealt. To keep the hand as correct as possible, the original burn card would not be shuffled back into the stub along with the additional cards and remains as the burn for the new flop.

Of special interest: If you happen to be seated with a player who likes to play hands “in the dark” (that is, without looking at them), this scenario of too many cards being dealt could play to your advantage (for more than the obvious reason that you know what your hand is and your opponent does not). That’s because if that player were dealt an extra hole card and the hand goes to showdown, the player’s hand would be declared dead causing him or her to forfeit any chips in the pot. Keep your integrity intact though — if you suspect an opponent has too many hole cards, stop the game and make sure the problem is corrected immediately.

Home Games

It’s easy to see how too many hole cards or flop cards could show up in home games if you’ve ever played in them. If the situation is encountered in your favorite home game, hopefully the host will have an answer to correct the problem.

We played in a weekly home game for a number of years that was pretty relaxed and crazy — so relaxed that if one of our players were dealt an extra hole card and had looked at all of them, that player’s hand was laid face down, scrambled, and another player drew one card for the burn after turning it up so everyone knew what it was. The insanity was even more fun when the player yelped because a good card was going to be taken from the hand and used as the burn.

As long as the ruling is the same for everyone, it’s all part of the fun of getting together with your friends and family while you try to run over them in a poker game.

Online Poker

We aren’t going out on a limb to try and convince ourselves or you that strange things never happen in online poker. They do, but very, very rarely. If you or someone you know has ever encountered too few or too many hole cards or a flop with too many cards in an online game, you owe it to the poker world and the poker site to report it immediately. A screenshot is your best proof of the incident, along with the table name and the hand number for verification.

Always protect the game. By doing so, you are in turn protecting yourself and the future of poker.

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What do you think?