Tournament Rules of Play

The Game

No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em
For a description of how to play no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em, see How to play No-Limit Texas Hold 'Em on the World Poker Tour site.

Poker Hand Rankings
For all poker Tournaments, standard poker hand rankings will be used for determining winners.

Tournament Configuration

This Microsoft Giving Campaign Poker Tournament is conducted using the guidelines as a standalone event. A standalone Tournament concludes within a single day of competition. Winners are rewarded at the end of the Tournament, in accordance with their finishing position.

Legal Considerations
Before hosting a Tournament, the organizers must read and comply with the instructions in the Giving Campaign Poker and Sweepstakes Guidelines consult the Giving Campaign organizers or LCA with any questions.   


The following equipment will be needed to run a poker Tournament . The following quantities of items are recommended to run a Tournament  as described in this document:


Participants will be seated by pre determined seating cards. Seating cards will be individually marked with a table number and seat number. Seats are counted beginning with the dealer (seat 1) in the middle of the table, and numbered sequentially in a clockwise direction. Seat 2 is located directly to the dealer’s left. Once the player finds his/her seat, the seating card should be given to the dealer.

Players are expected to be in their seats and ready to play at the commencement of the Tournament. Players who are not there on time may still be allowed to play if their seat is not filled from the waiting list. Their stack will be blinded down for all the rounds they miss.

Chip values

Chip value varies by color. These are our colors & valuations:

Figure 1 - Suggested chip valuations

As the Tournament progresses, obsolete chips may be re-valued and re-introduced as necessary.

Starting Stacks

Each player will receive the same number of chips, 2000, distributed as follows:

Figure 2 - Starting stack color distribution


The event begins with important announcements. All players should be in their assigned seats at or before the designated start time.

As the Tournament progresses, the size of the big and small blinds will gradually increase (at specified intervals) in order to force the Tournament towards a conclusion.

The schedules below are provided as samples. Round durations and break times may vary.

Standard Blinds

The following blind structure is designed to provide a 5.5-6.5 hour Tournament with a good balance of timeliness and skilled player enjoyment. This is the recommended structure whenever it can possibly be accommodated.

Figure 3 - Standard blind structure

Standard Anticipated End Times

With the structure shown above and starting at 15:00 (3 PM) with 2000 chips/player, the Tournament should end at or before the following times:

50 player Tournament – 6:15 PM (5 hours 15 minutes)
100 player Tournament – 6:50 PM (5 hours 50 minutes)
200 player Tournament – 7:20 PM (6 hours 20 minutes)
300 player Tournament – 7:35 PM (6 hours 35 minutes)

Re Donate

During the first 7 levels of play (the first 2 hours) a player may Re Donate as many time s as he or she wishes . Each donation of $25 will grant them another 1500 chips. Any player with 1200 chips or less remaining can re donate during this period. At the end of the Re-donation Period  a special one time Add on for another $40 will give the player another 2500 chips

Chipping up

Low-value chips become useless once the minimum betting increment has increased beyond the value of those chips. When this happens, between rounds of play, the floor will exchange all low-valued chips for chips of higher value. Since there will be some players with non-even multiples of remaining low-valued chips and since these extra chips will be of minimal use in any case, any left-over chips will trade for a single chip of the next value. For instance, if reds are being traded up to greens and five reds makes one green, then a player with 8 reds will receive 2 greens.


The Dealer “button”

Although the deal technically rotates, a single dealer may physically deal the cards for any or all of the game. A dealer marker will be used to designate the person playing the dealer position, and this marker will move at the end of each hand played.

Betting begins with the player to the left of the button on all streets, with the exception of preflop where it begins to the left of the big blind.

Dead button rule

If a player busts out on a hand in which they were the big blind, button rotation continues as if that player were still alive and the big blind is posted by the next player. Since the eliminated player would normally now be on the small blind, there is no small blind posted for this hand.

If a player busts out on a hand in which they were the small blind, the button moves to their empty seat.

Button heads-up

When only two players remain in the game, the button no longer moves in the normal fashion. Whichever player was due to have the big blind next posts the big blind. The button moves to the other player, who posts the small blind. The deal starts with the person NOT on the button followed by the person on the button. The player on the button will act first before the flop but will act last on the flop and on subsequent streets.

Bet placement

Bets are to be placed in front of the player in a readily visible location. Once all betting for a round is completed, all bets are moved into the center of the table (the pot).

Making change for a bet

If a player does not have the correct amount in chips to place the intended bet in the betting area, that player may place a larger denomination chip in the betting area. In this case, change will be made when all betting for the round is done. This speeds play; if there is additional raising in the round the game should proceed quickly and making change only once facilitates this.

No-limit betting

There is no maximum limit on any bet or raise. There is, however, a minimum requirement that every bet/raise must be at least the size of the previous bet/raise during that betting round and at least the size of the big blind.

Example: If the big blind is 200 and a player raises to 600, the next player must raise to at least 1000 if they wish to re-raise. On the next betting round, the minimum opening bet will be 200 (size of the big blind).

Betting “all-in”

A player can go all-in at any time with all the chips they have remaining. That player is then eligible to potentially win all money in the pot, minus whatever betting occurs beyond the ability of that player to call. The amount a player has on the table at the start of a hand is the most that player may bet total during that hand.

Note: If a player is automatically put all-in on the big blind for less than the normal value of the big blind, all other players must still call or raise as if the full blind had been posted. If only one player other than the big blind plays, the excess amount will be refunded.

All-in “Show ‘Em”

If one or more players are all-in and there is no more possible action on the hand (at most one player remaining in the hand has unwagered chips), all live hands are turned face-up and all remaining cards are dealt with everyone’s hand exposed.

Side pots

In order to track multiple pots in effect from table stakes, a separate side pot will be maintained for each hand that is all-in.

Verbalization is binding

Verbalization in turn is binding. If two conflicting verbalizations are made, the first is the binding action. Verbalization of bet intention out of turn is strongly discouraged and may result in the player being asked to leave if he or she disrupts play regularly.

If a player says “bet” or “raise”, that player is then obligated to make at least the minimum allowable bet/raise.

String bets

Since first verbalization is binding, a string bet (“I call and raise”) is considered a call. If a player unfamiliar with this policy makes a string bet, the dealer may choose to accept the raise; the player will be warned and all future string bets from that player will be considered a call.

If nothing is said

If nothing is said, then chip motion implies betting intention. A single oversized chip with action in front of the bettor (including the big blind itself) is treated as a call, but a single chip after the flop with no action ahead will be treated as a bet of face value unless otherwise verbally specified.

To raise, a player must either declare the raise verbally before placing chips in the pot, or place the full amount of the raise in the pot in one motion. If not enough chips are brought forward for a single bet or call, the action is considered the minimum possible bet or call.

To avoid confusion, it is always recommended that players verbalize their intent at the start of their turn so that play may continue as they place their chips.

Asking for time

Any player may ask the dealer for extra time to make a decision, but all players are expected to act promptly whenever possible. If another player feels the game is being unfairly delayed, they may ask the floorman to put a clock on the current player’s action. This player will then be given 1 additional minute to act, or their hand will be declared dead.

A player regularly abusing time will be dealt with at the discretion of the floorman.

Folding/mucking a hand

Any hand thrown in the muck is considered irretrievable, and the player owning that hand is ineligible to receive the pot under any circumstances.

Showing of hands

The player who initiated action last is required to show first if asked.  For example, in a heads-up pot, 'A' bets and 'B' calls; 'A' is required to show his hand first.  If there is any ambiguity over who is required to show first (e.g. no bets on the river), the player to the left of the button will be asked to do so.

Any player wishing to lay claim to the pot must expose both cards at the showdown, unless all opponents have already folded or mucked their hands.

A request may be made by any player at the table to see all called hands on the river. This request will be honored at the discretion of the dealer. Hands that have been folded or mucked are not permitted to be shown.

Leaving your seat

All stacks of chips are dealt in each hand, except when a player is moved to a seat that is between the button and the little blind. All players leaving their seats will be dealt in and still be forced to post blinds in turn, and all unattended hands will be folded when it is their turn to act (even if a check is allowed).

Mandatory Seat Changes

In order to keep all tables as full as possible as the Tournament progresses, players will be asked to relocate by the floorman. Players moving to fill-in seats assume the rights and responsibilities of that seat. They can be moved directly into the big blind, but cannot enter as the small blind. If a player is moved into the small blind position, they will simply wait until the next hand and enter after the dealer button passes.


A misdeal is any deal in which a card is exposed or dealt to the wrong player. If a misdeal occurs while dealing the first card to any player, the entire hand is redealt. If a misdeal occurs after the first card is dealt to each player, the dealer finishes dealing the hand and the burn card is given to the player who is one card short. The misdealt card is placed face up on top of the deck so that all players get an equal chance to see the card, then becomes the burn card for the flop and is turned face-down in the muck.

If a second card is exposed at any time during the initial deal, the entire hand is redealt.

Exposed hands

If a player intentionally exposes his hand to one or more players at the table while there is still action on the hand, that player's hand is dead (the hand is folded and no longer in contention for the pot).  An exposed hand may be ruled accidental by the floor and allowed to contend for the pot as long as all players see it.

Warning: A player deliberately exposing his or her hand to opponents during action in a hand may be subject to a fifteen (15) minute penalty away from the table. During the penalty time, their stack will be liable for blinds in turn.

Exposed cards

All players at the table will be shown any exposed card, whether the exposure is accidental or intentional.


Cards speak

One does not have to declare what hand they have, and if the shown cards are other than the claimed hand the actual cards determine who wins.

Example: A player who calls their hand as two pair but actually has a full house will be given credit for a full house.

Splitting the pot:

When a pot is split between multiple winners with identical hands, the indivisible remainder in the pot will go to the player closest to the left of dealer.

Visibility of cards and chips

All cards and chips must be kept on the table at all times, except when changing tables. Chips should be stacked for easy assessment of player strength. Highest denomination chips should be kept in clear view and not behind other chips. Cards should not be kept in a player’s hands for an extended period of time, or placed in their lap.

A player may ask another how many chips he has left at any time. The other player is required to show his stack(s) and to count them down if requested.

One player to a hand

Players may not receive assistance from another party in any way during play of a hand.

English only spoken during game play

To avoid the appearance of collusion or cheating, English will be the language spoken at the table during game play, unless all players unanimously agree to speak an alternative language.  .

Floor ruling is final

During the course of a Tournament, dealers will make rulings (in accordance with this document) at their discretion. The floor man might be summoned under any of the following circumstances:

  • A player objects to a decision made by the dealer.
  • A player requires clarification as to why a particular rule is being applied.
  • A dealer is unsure how to resolve a particular situation.

In all cases, the decision of the floorman is final.

Determining Final Ranking

Ranking of winners is determined by the time a player runs out of chips (later is better). If two or more players fall out of the game simultaneously (both go all-in against a third player and both lose), the player with more chips at the start of that hand ranks higher in the final rankings. The last player with chips is the winner.


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