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The Truth About TDA Poker Rules | Poker Rules You Need to Know

Trying to write an engaging article about TDA Poker Rules (Tournament Directors Association) is like trying to crack a walnut with a toenail.

At the same time, I like challenges. They would have to pry me from this computer before I gave up!

Cliché? Yeah, I know. But you’re still reading, aren’t you? Yes you are. I know that for a fact! And I’m going to do my best to keep you reading because you never know where things are going to go. Shoot, I don’t even know where things are going to go. All I know is that I’m going to tell you about the Top 10 TDA Poker Rules while trying to sneak in some poker strategy for cash games and/or poker tournaments.

Also, let it be known that these Top 10 TDA Poker Rules are subjective, not objective. Since you’re a poker player, it’s possible that you went the non-traditional and more rebellious route (I did the same for a while), which means you might not have paid that much attention in English class.

If that’s the case, then you might not know the difference between subjective and objective. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell anyone. By the time they inquire, you would know the answer anyway. Subjective means it’s my opinion. Objective means its fact. So … the Top 10 TDA Poker Rules I’m writing about here are my opinion. I literally went down the list and found poker game rules that were interesting to me.

If I pull this off, and you read an entire article about poker game rules, all I ask in return is an ice cream. I’m very easy to please. Small vanilla ice cream with no toppings. The no toppings will save you a few bucks.

Now for the most exciting topic in the poker universe: Top 10 TDA Poker Rules. Brace yourself!

Top 10 TDA Poker Rules

#1. Electronic Devices & Communication

As you might have noticed right off the bat, the TDA Poker Rules aren’t written as rules. For example, the TDA Poker Rules are never written as: “You cannot use electronic devices at the poker table.”

That was just an example, by the way. The TDA poker rules for electronics are pretty simple. For poker tournaments, whether Texas Hold’em poker tournaments or something else, you can use your phone as long as you’re not in a hand, but you must leave the table to talk on the phone.

As always, there is a loophole. I sometimes have to record information about poker hands in Texas Hold’em poker tournaments because I need content for a book. I rest the phone on my right leg, type when I’m not in a hand, and look down to review sometimes if I am in a hand. I’m really looking at notes from one of the previous poker hands, so I’m not doing anything wrong in a moral sense.

Resting the phone on your leg can also work for you if you’re trying to watch a video or read something. If you’re listening to a poker book, then you can simply play the book and place the earbud in your ear as if listening to music. It could be a poker strategy book and nobody would know.

#2. English Only, Please!

I don’t think there have been many times in my poker career when my opponents were trying to cheat when they were speaking another language. If I had to guess, the last three conversations I have heard in other languages were…

One guy arguing with his friend because his friend was wearing his leather jacket too tight and it would make the women at the club think he was arrogant. I know this because the dude grabbed his friend’s leather jacket and tugged at it while furrowing his brow.

A woman defending herself to her boyfriend for calling a big bet with a draw. I know this because she said, “No gamble, no future!” Those were the only English words she knew.

A 60-year-old man telling his 50-something wife that he had a surprise for her. I know this because he puckered up toward her as I was sitting between them. Awkward moment.

I don’t think many people speaking in different languages are trying to cheat, but it is most definitely against the poker game rules. My favorite part of this is when some dude gets super upset about it and starts yelling to the dealer, “They can’t speak another language like that! CALL THE FLOOR!”

Never be that guy.

#3. Tabling Cards at Showdown

This rule isn’t for you but the dealers, but it’s good to know. When you’re all-in in a tournament, all cards must be tabled. As you might already know, one dealer at Coconut Creek during the WSOP Circuit didn’t table my cards in a ring event, and I didn’t realize until I was walking away that I folded the winning hand. That was a three-way all-in! On the other hand, it led to me buying-in to a different event and winning it.

The lesson here is never to be embarrassed about your hand and to make sure the dealer tables your hand. You might have misread your hand, and even if not, it’s possible that your bluff is bigger than your opponent’s bluff. This isn’t going to happen often because someone called, but it does happen.

#4. Asking to See a Hand

You may not see someone else’s hand if you already mucked (folded). Plain and simple. Don’t try to be this person in poker tournaments.

#5. Deck Changes

This brings up a bad memory. The poker game rules are that the deck only changes on a dealer push or a Level change in a poker tournament. However, about four years ago, at a time when Tilt had more power over me, I was running good and playing good when an older fellow to my right requested a deck change.

That request was honored. I don’t know why. This was a WSOP Circuit ring event, so I’m not sure what was going on. What I do know is that I went ice cold for the rest of that tournament, which was about another 49 minutes (for me).

I do not think fondly of this older fellow with a white mustache and white checkered shirt. If you see him, please smack him for me. But first be sure to ask him if he was the same guy with a white mustache and white checkered shirt that asked for a deck change from Table 37 in a WSOP Circuit ring event at Harrah’s Cherokee in 2015. You wouldn’t want to smack the wrong dude.

#6. Calling For a Clock

Anyone can call a clock on another player, even if they don’t have cards. This is within the poker rules. This happened to me in a big spot in a WSOP Circuit ring event last year. Admittedly, I had tanked for five minutes already. It was a justifiable clock call.

When the Floor comes over, he/she will ask the dealer if the player had enough time to act. The dealer will usually say, “Yes.” Not always the case, but usually. The Floor will then tell the player, “You have 30 seconds to act. When there are five seconds remaining, I will give you a countdown. If you don’t act by the end of those five seconds, your hand will be dead.”

Your hand being dead means it’s a fold. Most of the time, the player will fold. I usually call. I’m only thinking that long if I’m trying to put the pieces together and coming up with a story that doesn’t make a lot of sense. The last time I called, it was with one second left, and it was correct. I’m sure my opponent loved me for that. There have been many times when I’ve been incorrect as well. Those aren’t fun.

#7. Button In Heads-Up Play

If you’re fortunate enough to get to heads-up in a poker tournament, then it’s important to know what the heck is going on with the dealer button and the blinds. It can be confusing if you’re not used to being in that spot. I’ll try to explain this as simply as I can.

TDA Poker Rules - Button

When you’re heads-up, the small blind is the button. You will be dealt the last card. You will be the first to act pre-flop and the last to act post-flop.

#8. Number of Allowed Raises

If you’re playing in Texas Hold’em poker tournaments or traditional No Limit poker games, then there is no limit to the amount of raises. That’s why it’s called No Limit.

For a long while prior to the poker boom, Fixed Limit was all the rage in poker rooms around the United States. Once Chris Moneymaker won the Main Event at the WSOP, everything changed. Fixed Limit was still around, but it began to fade.

Today, you will only find Fixed Limit in some poker rooms. A lot of poker players scoff at Fixed Limit. It’s not “cool enough” for them, but Fixed Limit is a lot of fun! And you never have to worry about busting if you get sucked-out (unless you’re super short-stacked).

If you do end up playing Fixed Limit somewhere, remember the following. The 2/4 FL players are playing that game because they’re strapped for cash. You can attack relentlessly and make a killing (relatively speaking).

The 3/6 FL game is a bit different. You want to play a TAG poker strategy. That fits within our poker rules for winning.

The 4/8 FL game can attract strong or weak players. A lot will depend on the poker room. You want to play tighter in this game. You will find a lot of value if you’re patient. Don’t call more because there are bad players at the table. If you call more, then you become one of those bad players.

The 5/10 FL game and higher is a lot different. This isn’t a game where you have fun and mess around. Every decision must be correct. Your opponents aren’t going to make many errors. The only exception is if you can find a 5/10 FL game on a Friday or Saturday night where people are drinking.

#9. Counting of Opponent’s Chip Stacks

No, you cannot reach over and count your opponent’s chip stack. You can ask to see your opponent’s chip stack, which will give you a rough estimate. After you’ve been playing poker games for a while, you will be able to look at a stack and know the amount.

If you’re confident you know the amount, I would recommend saying it casually for the table to hear. This will let your opponents know that you play a lot of poker, which will help your table image–they might play fewer poker hands against you and respect your bets more.

You can ask the dealer for a count. The dealer will count your opponent’s chips and tell you the amount. I highly recommend counting in your head as the dealer counts. Dealers are human and can make errors. Once in a while, if the Floor is around and wanting to speed up the action, the Floor will count out your opponent’s chips. This is rare, but I have seen it. Remember, most Floor personnel are former dealers, and they only worked their way up because they were excellent dealers.

#10. Personal Belongings

The poker table is a place for chips and cards. Please do not put the following items on the poker table: iPad, pack of gum, candy, spaghetti and meatballs from Brio, pack of cigarettes, nail clipper. The list goes on and on.

TDA Poker Rules - Items on table

Final Thoughts

Now you know a lot more about the Top 10 TDA Poker Rules. I did my best to keep it entertaining while you were also learning. That is the key to teaching. If you can get them to learn while enjoying themselves, then you’re a good teacher. And I have always dreamed about teaching people about the Top 10 TDA Poker Rules. One item off the bucket list. See you at the WSOP!

♠ pokerjournal.org

TDA poker Rules – FAQs

Q: What are TDA poker rules?

A: The TDA was formed in 2001 in order to ensure that every poker room universally follow the same tournament poker rules. TDA stands for Tournament Directors Association.