It’s Friday night poker, and a Monopoly game breaks out. I roll the dice and land on Community Chest. The card says “Bank Error in Your Favor, Collect $200.” The banker hands me the money. Let me explain.
We are a couple hours into this private, home game of no limit Texas Holdem, with blinds of $1 and $2. The player to the left of the big blind, who for purposes of this blog I’ll call “John,” raises to $11. John is a fairly loose player, so even though he is under-the-gun (UTG) here, his raising range is not nearly as tight as many other players. Still, I know he’s positionally aware so I’ll give him credit for having something decent.
In the cutoff seat, I have KK. I start to re-raise to $31, then grab two more $1 chips to make it $33, triple the amount of John’s bet. He has a history of calling 3-bets from out-of-position lighter than he should, so I want to take advantage.
Then the small blind shoves all-in with a short stack. He has $51 in total. For purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “KP” after the comedy duo of Key & Peele.
The action is back on John. What are his options? My raise was $22 more than John’s bet. KP’s raise was $18 more than mine. Can John raise again, or is he limited to calling or folding only?
John does call $51, then says he doesn’t think I can re-raise again. Since KP only had $18 on top of my bet, which is less than the amount by which I had raised John’s original bet, that’s not a full raise and therefore closes the action. Right? John asked for clarification only after he has called the bet.
If so, my only options would be to call $18 more, or fold. Note that if I had only raised to $31, as was my initial inclination, that would be $20 more than John’s raise. Then KP’s shove of $51 would be $20 more than my bet and constitute a full raise. In that situation, the action would clearly remain open for me to raise again.
John and the dealer have a short discussion and review of the betting action, while KP and I sit quietly. The dealer notes that KP’s raise is over one-half of the minimum, therefore it does not close the action and I can raise again if I want. If KP had only enough chips to raise $10 more than my bet, or less than that, I would be prohibited from making another raise.
John appears satisfied with that answer. After calling $51, he has about $150 left in his stack, maybe slightly more, and I have him well covered.
I ask the dealer to confirm that I can raise again if I want, and after he does confirm, I announce all-in. John shrugs and with very little hesitation says, “OK, I call, but I probably need help.”
I turn over my pocket kings. KP shows KcJc. John shows Ac8c. I’m a 61.4% favorite to win this 3-way pot.
The board runs out KQJ-4-Q and my full house sweeps the pot, albeit with a bit of a sweat.
After the hand, there is some more discussion about the ruling that additional raises are permitted after KP’s shove was less than a full raise. I ask the dealer if this is a house rule or they are following a guide like the Tournament Directors Association or Robert’s Rules of Poker. He says he has a copy of Robert’s Rules and believes his is being consistent with that guide, pointing out that the TDA guide sometimes has some quirky tournament-specific rules that don’t work well for cash games.
Now in the comfort of my own home again, I’m curious. What does Robert’s Rules of Poker actually say here? Let’s take a look… (emphasis added)
SECTION 3 – GENERAL POKER RULES
BETTING AND RAISING
5. In limit play, an all-in wager of less than half a bet does not reopen the betting for any player who has already acted and is in the pot for all previous bets. A player facing less than half a bet may fold, call, or complete the wager. An all-in wager of a half a bet or more is treated as a full bet, and a player may fold, call, or make a full raise. (An example of a full raise is on a $20 betting round, raising a $15 all-in bet to $35).
But wait, there’s more!
SECTION 14 – NO LIMIT AND POT-LIMIT
A no-limit or pot-limit betting structure for a game gives it a different character from limit poker, requiring a separate set of rules in many situations. All the rules for limit games apply to no-limit and pot-limit games, except as noted in this section.
3. All raises must be equal to or greater than the size of the previous bet or raise on that betting round, except for an all-in wager. A player who has already checked or called may not subsequently raise an all-in bet that is less than the full size of the last bet or raise. (The half-the-size rule for reopening the betting is for limit poker only.)
Example: Player A bets $100 and Player B raises $100 more, making the total bet $200. If Player C goes all in for less than $300 total (not a full $100 raise), and Player A calls, then Player B has no option to raise again, because he wasn’t fully raised. (Player A could have raised, because Player B raised.)
Since John had not acted in response to my 3-bet, he should have been able to re-raise again if he wanted. But not me. And who knows if I would have been able to win John’s full $200 stack if I hadn’t been allowed to raise again in the pre-flop betting round?
Hopefully on the next roll of the dice, I’ll pass Go! and collect another $200. Until then I’ll just a savor the fortuitous ruling.
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