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Improve Your Poker
by Bob Ciaffone
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One of the more respected writers of this generation, Ciaffone's material, now compiled under one cover, has previously appeared in a variety of publications. Here, he helps sharpen the skills of beginners and experienced players in ten different areas, including general concepts like beating a loose game, and tight/loose play. He moves to gambling skills like the mental side, and money management; then to Reading Opponents, including tells and using your eyes. A vital section on Deception and Bluffing is followed by incisive advice on Hold'em including raising and missing.
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Robert's Rules of Poker - Tournaments

Robert's Rules of Poker was written by Robert Ciaffone. The goal of this rulebook is to produce the best set of rules in existence, and make it generally available, so any person or cardroom can useBob CiaffoneBob Ciaffone is one of America’s best-known poker players, writers, and teachers. He has numerous poker tournament wins and placings, the most prominent being third place in the 1987 World Championship. He has been a poker teacher since 1995, with his students having earned well over a million dollars in tournament play.  Bob's website is  it who so desires. The purpose is the betterment of poker.

The following section concerns the rules governing tournament play.

By participating in a tournament, you agree to abide by the rules and behave in a courteous manner. A violator may be verbally warned, suspended from play for a specified length of time, or disqualified from the tournament. Chips from a disqualified participant will be removed from play. Players, whether in the hand or not, may not discuss the hands until the action is complete. Players are obligated to protect the other players in the tournament at all times. Discussing cards discarded or hand possibilities is not allowed. A penalty may be given for discussion of hands during the play.

1.   Whenever possible, all rules are the same as those that apply to live games.

2.   Initial seating is determined by random draw or assignment. (For a one-table satellite event, cards to determine seating may be left faceup so the earlier entrants can pick their seat, since the button is assigned randomly.)

3.   The appropriate starting amount of chips will be placed on the table for each paid entrant at the beginning of the event, whether the person is present or not.

4.   If a paid entrant is absent at the start of an event, at some point an effort will be made to locate and contact the player. If the player requests the chips be left in place until arrival, the request will be honored. If the player is unable to be contacted, the chips may be removed from play at the discretion of the director anytime after a new betting level is begun or a half-hour has elapsed, whichever occurs first.

5.   A starting stack of chips may be placed in a seat to accommodate late entrants (so all antes and blinds have been appropriately paid). An unsold seat will have such a stack removed at a time left to the discretion of the director.

6.   A no-show or absent player is always dealt a hand. That player's stack will post chips for blinds and antes, and have the forced lowcard bet put into the pot at stud.

7.   In all tournament games using a dealer button, the starting position of the button is determined by the players drawing for the high card.

8.   Limits and blinds are raised at regularly scheduled intervals.

9.   If there is a signal designating the end of a betting level, the new limits apply on the next deal. (A deal begins with the first riffle of the shuffle.)

10. The lowest denomination of chip in play will be removed from the table when it is no longer needed in the blind or ante structure. All lower-denomination chips that are of sufficient quantity for a new chip will be changed up directly. The method for removal of odd chips is to deal one card to a player for each odd chip possessed. Cards are dealt clockwise starting with the 1-seat, with each player receiving all cards before any cards are dealt to the next player. The player with the highest card by suit gets enough odd chips to exchange for one new chip, the second-highest card gets to exchange for the next chip, and so forth, until all the lower-denomination chips are exchanged. A player may not be eliminated from the event by the chip-change process. If a player has no chips after the race has been held, he will be given a chip of the higher denomination before anyone else is awarded a chip. If an odd number of lower-denomination chips are left after this process, the player with the highest card remaining will receive a new chip if he has half or more of the quantity of lower-denomination chips needed, otherwise nothing.

11. A player must be present at the table to stop the action by calling “time.”

12. A player must be at the table by the time all players have their complete starting hands in order to have a live hand for that deal. (The dealer has been instructed to kill the hands of all absent players immediately after dealing each player a starting hand.)

13. As players are eliminated, tables are broken in a pre-set order, with players from the broken tables assigned to empty seats at other tables.

14. A change of seat is not allowed after play starts, except as assigned by the director.

15. In button games, if a player is needed to move from a table to balance tables, the player due for the big blind will be automatically selected to move, and will be given the earliest seat due for the big blind if more than one seat is open.

16. New players are dealt in immediately and take over the obligations of that position, including the small blind or button position.

17. The number of players at each table will be kept reasonably balanced by the transfer of a player as needed. With more than six tables, table size will be kept within two players. With six tables or less, table size will be kept within one player.

18. In all events, there is a redraw for seating when the field is reduced to three tables, two tables, and one table. (Redrawing at three tables is not mandatory in small tournaments with only four or five starting tables.)

19. A player who declares all in and loses the pot, then discovers that one or more chips were hidden, is not entitled to benefit from this. That player is eliminated from the tournament if the opponent had sufficient chips to cover the hidden ones (A rebuy is okay if allowable by the rules of that event). If another deal has not yet started, the director may rule the chips belong to the opponent who won that pot, if that obviously would have happened with the chips out in plain view. If the next deal has started, the discovered chips are removed from the tournament.

20. If a player lacks sufficient chips for a blind or a forced bet, the player is entitled to get action on whatever amount of money is left in his stack. A player who posts a short blind and wins does not need to make up the blind.

21. All players must leave their seat immediately after being eliminated from an event.

22. Showing cards from a live hand during the action injures the rights of other players still competing in an event, who wish to see contestants eliminated. A player in a multihanded pot may not show any cards during a deal. Heads-up, a player may not show any cards unless the event has only two remaining players, or is winner-take-all. If a player deliberately shows a card, the player may be penalized (but his hand will not be ruled dead). Verbally stating one's hand during the play may be penalized.

23. The limit on raises is also applied to heads-up situations (except the last two players in a tournament are exempted from a limitation on raises).

24. At pot-limit and no-limit play, the player must either use a verbal statement giving the amount of the raise or put chips into the pot in a single motion. Otherwise, it is a string bet.

25. Non-tournament chips are not allowed on the table.

26. Higher-denomination chips must be placed where they are easily visible to all other players at the table.

27. All tournament chips must remain visible on the table throughout the event. Chips taken off the table will be removed from the event, and a player doing this may be disqualified.

28. Inappropriate behavior like throwing cards that go off the table may be punished with a penalty such as being dealt out for a length of time. A severe infraction such as abusive or disruptive behavior may be punished by eviction from the tournament.

29. The decks is changed only when dealers change, unless a card is damaged.

30. The dealer button remains in position until the appropriate blinds are taken. Players must post all blinds every round. Because of this, last action may be given to the same player for two consecutive hands by the use of a “dead button.” [See “Section 16 – Explanations,” discussion #1, for more information on this rule.]

31. In heads-up play with two blinds, the small blind is on the button.

32. At stud, if a downcard on the initial hand is dealt faceup, a misdeal is called.

33. If a player announces the intent to rebuy before cards are dealt, that player is playing behind and is obligated to make the rebuy.

34. All hands will be turned faceup whenever a player is all-in and betting action is complete.

35. If multiple players go broke on the same hand, the player starting the hand with the larger amount of chips finishes in the higher place for prize money and any other award.

36. Management is not required to rule on any private deals, side bets, or redistribution of the prize pool among finalists.

37. Private agreements by remaining players in an event regarding distribution of the prize pool are not condoned. (However, if such an agreement is made, the director has the option of ensuring that it is carried out by paying those amounts.) Any private agreement that does not include one or more active competitors is improper by definition.

38. A tournament event is expected to be played until completion. A private agreement that removes all prize money from being at stake in the competition is unethical.

39. Management retains the right to cancel any event, or alter it in a manner fair to the players.


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