Watch What You Say

At a poker table verbal actions are binding whether they are in turn or out of turn. Because of this oft misunderstood and sometimes abused rule, players need to watch what they say at the poker table.

Example 1: I was playing $4-$8 limit Omaha at The Orleans Friday night. On the turn, I made a flush and bet $8. The player in seat number 10 mistakenly thought we were still on the flop and the maximum bet was only $4. He said, “I’ll call half a bet” as he put out $4. He thought he was being cute when in fact he embarrassed himself a little.

First, you cannot call half a bet. To call, he has to match my $8. Second, he cannot now fold his hand and just sacrifice the $4 that he put out, which is exactly what the dealer allowed him to do. I informed the dealer that although he folded he had to put out the entire $8. He disagreed, and the dealer offered to call the floor for a decision.

Since I had just won the hand I told the dealer and the player I would just drop it. I am not going to fight with anyone over $4, even though I knew the decision would go in my favor. But I also reminded the player that the first two words out of his mouth were “I’ll call…” Whatever he says after that is irrelevant.

Example 2: In a limit game a player bets $2. The next player to act has $89 in play and says in jest, “I’m all in.” Obviously this player cannot go all in since this is a limit hold’em game. However, the player that said “I’m all in” is required to raise the maximum of $2 and make the total $4. Why? This player has declared “all in”. Although this is not allowed due to the player’s total number of chips, a verbal declaration “all in” means putting out more chips than the current bet. Because of that action, the player must raise the maximum of $2 for declaring “all in.”

Example 3: I love it when a player says “I’ll put you all in.” In my opinion this is one of the dumbest poker action declarations you can make at a table. When somebody says to me “I’ll put you all in” I always reply, “Really? You are going to bet my chips for me?” As a poker player you cannot put another player all in. You cannot wager another player’s chips. All you can do is put yourself all in or wager more chips than the other player has left.

If the words “I’ll put you all in” are in your poker vocabulary, get them out right now. You just sound ignorant saying it.

Watch what you say at the poker table and you can eliminate costly mistakes.

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