We've re-designed our Rules & Guidelines to make it even easier to find out about our game. Need to reference a rule at your table tonight? Chances are it's covered in the 'Most Common' section! If not, just choose from the menu to instantly find what you're looking for.
MOBILE USERS: Link this Rules Guide to your home screen for easy reference! Simply click the OPTION tab on your phone and you should see "ADD SHORTCUT ON HOME SCREEN". Click that and an icon will appear on your device's home screen.
Most Common Rules & Decisions
As a league, we strongly recommend that no one under the age of 18 be allowed to compete in World Tavern Poker events. However, some Bar Owners may waive this at their discretion.
However, for Championship Events, all players must be 21 years of age (by the time of the National Championship) to participate, as the winner is moving on to an event held at a casino. This includes: Mid-Season TOC Night, Tavern Championships, Tavern TOC's, and the Regionals.
An opening bet must always be equal to or greater than the big blind unless a player is all in for less than the big blind.
A bet is binding once the player moves chips forward and releases them.
Verbal declarations are binding unless there is a gross misunderstanding of the previous action.
SINGLE CHIP BETS or RAISES (Be safe - ALWAYS announce your action to eliminate confusion!): Before the flop, if a player bets a single chip greater than the big blind without announcing a raise, then this is only a call. If a pre-flop bet has already been made and a player tosses a higher-value chip without announcing their intention, this is also only a call.
After the flop, if a player bets a single chip that is more than the minimum bet without announcing their intent, then the bet is the value of that chip. If a bet has already been made and someone tosses a higher-value chip in front of them (again, without announcing their intent), this is just a call.
If a player bets out of turn, they can pull their chips back, provided it was an honest mistake. If players are doing this intentionally or repeatedly, they can be issued a warning, which can include having that hand mucked.
Cheating & Berating
First, anyone who would cheat in a free poker tournament is simply a loser! Secondly, cheating will not be tolerated. If you suspect another player of cheating, let the Tournament Director know.
Cheating can include colluding with other players, dumping chips, or negotiating positions for prizes and/or points/wins.
Note: If the TD did not directly witness the cheating, they should contact World Tavern Poker with a detailed account of what they were told regarding the cheating. The TD's ruling on the situation is binding at that time; however, ONLY World Tavern Poker (the league) can ban players from all league events.
Bar Owners and Bar Staff may ask players to leave in this sitauation at their discretion.
At no time can any player or spectator threaten or berate another player. This will not be tolerated. Remember, we are here to have fun. Players may be banned from the bar for this type of behavior and if so, can face further discipline from the league
Exposed Card(s) AFTER the Deal
If a player exposes ONE of their cards before all players have acted, the card is shown to the table and play continues.
If a player exposes BOTH of their cards before all players have acted, the cards are shown to the table and that player can NO LONGER bet or raise. Their only options are call or fold.
If a player is exposing their cards on purpose, the Tournament Director will warn the player to stop. If the player continues this repeatedly, the TD can remove the player from the tournament (this should only be in extreme cases).
No Blind Stacks
Please do not allow blind (or "dead") stacks to be placed for late arriving players. This often causes confusion and can result in misdeals that slow the game down for everyone. TD's should wait for the customer to arrive, then give them their chips (see "Arriving Late" for more details).
This rule is taken very seriously! Any WTP Bar or Player who engages in wagering cash, property, or anything of value at any World Tavern Poker event should be immediately reported to the league. Disciplinary action can include a suspension up to termination from the league.
Additionally, chip bonuses cannot be given as incentive for players to make purchases at a WTP bar.
ABSOLUTELY NO Outside Food & Drink!
Under no circumstances are players allowed to bring outside alcohol, food, or drinks into a venue. RARE EXCEPTION: There are a small handful of bars that don't serve food, but please check with them first!
Anyone who is verified to have brought outside alcohol into a host venue will face a minimum league suspension of 6 months. We take this seriously folks: bars can lose their liquor license over this!
All raises must be equal to or greater than the size of the previous bet or raise on that betting round, except for an all-in bet.
Preflop Example: The blinds are 100/200 and Player A raises to 1,000. If Player B wishes to re-raise, they must re-raise at least 800 more (the difference between the big blind and initial raise), making their total bet 1,800. The next re-raise must also be at least 800 more.
Postflop Example: Blinds are 500/1000 and the flop is revealed. If a player bets 3,000, then the minimum amount to raise would be 6,000. If a player decides to raise the 3,000 bet to 10,000, then the next minimum raise amount would be 17,000 (the difference in the bet and the raise).
Always remember: the minimum initial raise before the flop is always double the big blind, and the minimum initial raise after the flop is double the previous bet.
If a player raises all in but their bet is less than a full raise, raising action is closed to anyone who has already acted.
Example A: If Player 1 bets 1,000. Player 2 calls. Last to act moves all in for 1,500 (not a full raise) then players 1 and 2 cannot re-raise.
Example B: If Player 1 bets 1,000. Player 2 calls. Player 3 moves all in for 1,500 (not a full raise) and last to act makes a full raise (2,000 chips min) then action is back open to all players.
Showing Your Cards
All hands will be turned face up whenever a player is all-in and the betting action has been completed. The cards speak for themselves.
If a player is called at the river, they should not win the hand unless they show both their hole cards at showdown. If no one calls the player, the player does not need to show. If the winner shows one player their hand, they must also show the table (“show one show all”, to prevent collusion).
If a player is called at the river, the person who initially bet or the last person to raise shows their cards first. If no one can beat that player, they may muck their hand.
Rules Overview: Having a Good Time
World Tavern Poker has grown to become America's #1 Bar Poker League because our game brings people from all walks of life together for a game we all love.
Over the years we have continued to revisit this rule guide to keep our game fun and available to anyone, first timers and seasoned pros alike.
Rules are important, but there is a tried and true method to why our game continues to stand the test of time. Please keep the 'Spirit of the Game" in mind, along with the following:
This is a self-dealt game: some rules have been created with this in mind.
The Tournament Director is in charge and is responsible for the game being Fun, Fair, and Organized. Rulings are made in the best interest of the game. Always be respectful towards TD's and other players. If there is an issue, attempt to resolve it with respect.
Those new to World Tavern Poker may not understand our rules, so please help them (rather than criticizing). More players at each bar ensures the league will continue.
World Tavern Poker rules are designed to keep things fun without losing the integrity of the game. Casino rules can vary from venue to venue. Our aim is to provide consistently enjoyable experiences for everyone who plays at our amazing host bars.
Finally, our players are some of the most dedicated, fun loving, talented, and awesome people you will ever meet. Do youself a favor and introduce yourself to someone new the next time you're at the bar.
So let's make some new friends and have a great time!
Mike Matsinger and the WTP Team
THE ROLE OF THE TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR
World Tavern Poker would not be the #1 Poker League in the Country if it was not for the hard work and dedication of the Tournament Directors. Their main duty is to keep the game Fun, Fair, and Organized!
Most TD's volunteer their time, receiving only a free meal, a small gift card, or a few dollars compensation. They generally take on this role for the love of the game (or perhaps because no one else would).
Please be respectful of your TD as they are working hard to keep the game going at your bar. They may not know every rule, but rather than throwing out a 'complaint', consider assisting them by having the Rules and Guidelines handy on your smartphone. Players have a responsibility as well as the TD's to maintain a fun, friendly atmosphere for all.
There are times that a situation occurs that is not covered by the Rules & Guidelines. If this type of situation arises, the TD's decision is final. If a player has a problem with their decision, they should discuss it with the TD in a friendly manner.
We are always looking for dedicated TD's! If you or someone you know is ever interested in stepping up to be a TD, please email us at Players@WorldTavernPoker.com.
ADHERING TO WTP RULES & GUIDELINES
All TD's are expected to run their tournaments according to the Rules and Guidelines of World Tavern Poker. This includes the structure of the game, starting chip stacks, adherance to the Bonus Chip Program, and other aspects of the league.
TD's are expected to enter scores within 48 hours of the end of their last tournament. There are times when it may take longer – please be patient! However, if a TD is consistently entering scores well outside the 48-hour window, please contact us.
World Tavern Poker TD’s have a lot going on while running their games. That’s why it’s important for players to register online for tournaments so TD’s can utilize the printouts generated from each night’s registration list.
TD's: Make sure the correct seating arrangement for your bar is in place. If your printouts show more or less players per table than your bar tables can hold, contact TDs@WorldTavernPoker.com and this can be adjusted. This will auto-generate your seating based on the size and number of tables at your bar (some bars can fit 6 or 7 people per table, while others can fit 10).
TD’s should use this printout when seating players. Make sure to give them their table number when handing out chips for the game. If a player does not register online, you can assign them to the table with the least amount of people seated.
HELPFUL TIP: 10-15 minutes before game time, check how many people are seated at each table. If it turns out that one table has far more players than others, start to fill in lower tables as players arrive. This will help avoid almost all instances of re-seating, balancing (moving players), or creating a new table as game time nears.
Remember: World Tavern Poker is a social, inclusive game. Sitting with people you may not know is part of the fun!
The Tournament Director will attempt to keep the number of players at each table equal before and during the game. This is not always possible and play cannot stop because of it. Also, please don’t bug the Tournament Director every time you lose a player!
STARTING GAMES ON TIME
All TD's should start their games on time. Ask players to be seated 5 minutes before game time to make announcements. TD's should never start a tournament before the posted start time, though.
TD's should instruct players where to generally sit when combining tables. When moving to a new table, players should try to sit in a similar position to where they were previously.
If 2 or less players move to a new table and one sits in the Big Blind, that player has the option of sitting out until the deal passes them.
If 3 or more players move to a new table, the table will re-ace to determine a new dealer position.
CHIPPING UP AT BREAK
All TD's are expected to follow the in-game guidelines of our tournaments. This includes chipping up at break (after the 500/1000 blind level).
When coloring up chips at first break, TD's should always round up to reduce the potential for collusion (players should NOT share chips for any reason). This means if a player has 1,100 chips to 'chip up', the TD should give them two black chips (2,000). If a player has 3,300 chips to 'chip up', they should receive four black chips (4,000), and so on.
At the 5,000/10,000 blind level, all black chips are removed. For every 5,000 in black chips, players receive one white chip (worth 5,000 apiece). If a player has more than 5,000 but less than 10,000, they still receive two white chips. So if a player has 21,000 in black chips, they will receive five white chips (worth 25,000).
SUPPORTING YOUR VENUE
Please remember that hosting venues pay to provide World Tavern Poker for their customers. It is your support and patronage that will keep the promotion going.
While venues cannot require WTP players solely to make purchases to play, many have a NO LOITERING POLICY. This can mean their establishment, bathrooms, entertainment, etc.. are for customers only, and/or it can mean that a bar has a minimum purchase requirement for all patrons (including non-poker players).
Please be respectful and don’t forget to take care of your servers. They work very hard for you. Be The Best Poker Customer You Can Be!
BEHAVIOR & ETIQUETTE
Before, during, and after a World Tavern Poker tournament or event, players are expected to adhere to basic etiquette and behavior standards. Please don't whine and cry - treat others as you wish to be treated!
Be respectful and stay attentive to the game. When it is your turn to act, do so within an acceptable amount of time. If a TD asks a player to move tables, we ask that you follow their direction. Please remember that the TD is in charge and that their rulings are final.
If a TD makes an incorrect ruling, please show them the correct rule in this guide. Remember, though, their ruling is final! If a TD is flagrantly disregarding the rules, please contact us at Players@WorldTavernPoker.com
Failure to adhere to these standards can result in your removal from a tournament, or being banned from the bar. So enjoy yourself and have fun, but be mindful of others who are there to have fun as well.
REGISTER FOR ALL TOURNAMENTS
All players should register for tournaments by logging on to the WorldTavernPoker.com website. Registering online makes it easier for the TD to prepare for the number of expected players as well as update scores after the game.
All players should arrive 15-30 minutes prior to start time. This gives players the opportunity to grab a drink or something to each and allows the TD to kick off the tournament as scheduled.
Players arriving late can only take a seat if:
They arrive within 20 minutes of the actual start of the tournament.
AND, the player forfeits a Small & Big Blind for each blind level played.
For example, if your blinds are 15 minutes and a player arrives 16 minutes into the tournament, they forfeit 900 in chips (300 for Level 1 and 600 for Level 2). They forfeit these chips regardless of where they are seated (in the blinds or not). These chips are taken prior to them receiving their stack and are not placed in the pot or divided among players.
All bars are expected to adhere to this policy during regular season tournaments, as well as Mid-Season TOC Night, Tavern Championships, and Tavern TOC's.
CELL PHONES & MOBILE DEVICES
There is no talking on the phone at the table. Please step away if you need to make a call. Electronic games, videos, books, and other devices can be used provided it does not interfere with the flow of the game. If the TD asks you to cease, please respect their decision.
If you are allowed to smoke inside a bar where you are playing, please do so at a considerable distance from the tables.
SITTING AT THE TABLE, or COACHING
Only players involved in an active WTP tournament may be seated at that table during play. Players standing near or behind an active table during a WTP event are not allowed to help a sitting player in that tournament.
Additional TD Responsibilities
After registration is closed (20 minutes after game start), the TD must announce to the poker customers the total # for that game. This is not only good information for the customers to know, it also serves as a check for the TD in case they enter the wrong total when entering scores.
TD CHIP UP
Before the normal chip up on first break, the TD must show and announce their chip total to their table. The TD will then chip up all poker customers, including themselves. Before the next hand is played after break ends, the TD must again show and announce their chip total to their table. This informs and displays to customers that TD’s are chipping themselves up properly in a transparent way.
These rules for TD are in place to both protect the integrity of our game, and to make it more transparent to poker customers. TD’s can be falsely accused for adding more chips than needed at chip up, or inflating numbers at their games. We want our TD’s to be able to show they are doing it right, and our players can help by being attentive, but allowing them to do their job. Players and TD’s helping each other is what continues to make World Tavern Poker the #1 Bar Poker League in America!
Reminders, Warnings, and Suspensions
Occasionally, players and TD’s will act outside the parameters of the Rules & Guidelines. When this happens and WTP Staff is informed, we investigate the situation as quickly and fairly as possible. If WTP Staff determines an incident took place that requires intervention, we act in one of three ways: Reminders, Warnings, or Suspensions.
Please note that Bar Owners & Managers have the discretion to ask an unruly or disruptive player to leave their tournament or the venue. They can also ban players from their bar if they deem it appropriate. However, only the World Tavern Home Office can issue league-wide reminders, warnings, and/or suspensions.
TOURNAMENT DIRECTORS: If a player has been permanently banned from your bar, please email us at TDs@WorldTavernPoker.com as soon as possible.
Reminders are friendly reminders to remember to follow the WTP Rules & Guidelines while playing in our events. Warnings are stricter messages to remind someone to be a better Poker Customer. Failure to adhere to a warning can be grounds for a suspension.
Suspensions can range from 2 weeks up to a permanent ban from the league (very rare). Instances that can lead to a league-wide suspension are being banned from a venue or venues, cheating; bringing outside alcohol into a bar; fighting; continual berating of other players, TD’s, and/or Bar Staff; continual bad behavior; gambling in a host venue; and similar activities.
If you have any WTP-related issues you feel need to be addressed by WTP Staff, please send us an email.
PLAYERS, send email to: Players@WorldTavernPoker.com
TD's, send email to: TDs@WorldTavernPoker.com