The half-bet rule should have been enforced

Re-printed courtesy of our content partner Ante Up Magazine.

In a $1-$2 no-limit hold’em cash game a player raises to $13. Next player wasn’t paying attention and says, “$20,” throwing out $20 in chips. The dealer says it was already $13 so this is a no-raise, giving him back his change. After the hand, I asked the dealer about it. I told him it was my understanding that if somebody raises more than half the previous raise, then they need to make a full raise (in this case, it would have been $11 more than the $13, so $24). He said that’s only in a limit game. Upon further discussion, he agreed if the second player had just said “raise” and put out $20, he would have had to increase it to $24, but saying $20 made it a call. — Crackpot One, via

The “Half Bet” rule deals with half or more bets in limit games when there is an all-in. This is not the case here. In situations involving half a bet or more from a player who isn’t all-in, the player should be required to complete the bet to the minimum raise regardless of whether the game is limit or no-limit. It is important to know the only options are to leave the $20 in the pot and fold, or complete the raise to $24. Taking back the $20 and folding, or raising more than the minimum amount would not be correct.

There is a huge problem with not requiring players in this situation to complete the raise. It opens the door for shot-takers. A good example would be: Player A bets $200, Player B puts $399 in the pot and gets reraised by Player A. At this point Player B declares he didn’t raise, pulls back $199 and folds.

The mistake this dealer made is a common error in this situation. He was trying to apply the “Half Bet” rule in a situation it doesn’t address. This is why it’s important to always ask for a floor person. This dealer had the opportunity to learn the correct rule from a competent floor person if someone had simply asked for a ruling at the table. A lot of people are reluctant to ask for decisions for a variety of reasons, such as being unpopular or looked at as trouble makers. Folks, you are playing for a lot of money these days. You deserve to have the best trained and most well-informed dealers. Assisting in their training on a day-to-day basis by calling for rulings is an enormous help that only you, the player, can give.

— Jody Russell is a veteran poker room manager in Nevada who also runs the Ante Up Poker Room. Email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..