NPPL Tournament Rules

  • All Players must be registered members of the National Pub Poker Leager.
  • Minimum age to play is 18. Photo Identification is required for players joining NPPL. Players failing to produce Identification will not be registered or allow to play in the league. Photo Identification may also be required for players taking part in any Cash Final run by NPPL.

  • Fairness and the 'Spirit of the Game'
  • Tournament Directors will consider the best interest of the game and fairness as top priorities in the decision-making process. Unusual circumstances can on occasion dictate that decisions in the interest of fairness take priority over the technical rules. The Tournament Directors decision is final.

  • Game Format
  • The NPPL reserves the right to change the blind schedule of any event.
  • Once you have lost all your chips you are out of the game unless the game is a re-buy tournament.
  • All vouchers for extra chips vary from region to region. If you have questions relating to vouchers for extra chips please speak to your host.

  • General Procedures
  • Only one person may play a hand.
  • No one is allowed to play another player's chips.
  • Show one, show all. If cards are shown to another player, every player at the table has a right to see those cards.
  • Players must keep their cards in full view. This means above table-level and not past the edge of the table. The cards should not be covered by the hands in a manner to completely conceal them.
  • A player must remain at the table if they have action pending on a live hand.
  • At no time, during an NPPL event, is currency of any kind allowed on the poker table.

  • Calling for a Clock
  • Once a reasonable amount of time has passed (never less than 1 minute) and a clock is called for, a player will be given a maximum of 30 seconds to make a decision.
  • If action has not been taken before time expires, there will be a 10-second countdown followed by a declaration to the effect that the hand is dead. If the player has not acted before the declaration, the hand is dead.
  • Any player may call for a clock.

  • Table Assignment
  • The Tournament Host may assign seating for all tournaments.
  • If there are more players than seats at the tables there may be a waiting list.
  • New players can come in up until the end of the first break. Their chips must be on the table for the first hand of the second session. The starting stack of chips may be placed in a seat position to accommodate late entrants, to ensure all the blinds have been appropriately paid and all players are paying the same amount of blinds. The unused seat may have the chips removed during the registration period at the discretion of the Tournament Director. Players coming in late will take a seat and their starting stack will be determined by the amount of blinds they have paid.
  • If a late entrant does not have a seat available with chips that have already paid the blinds, the host will remove 1 set of each blinds that they would have paid.
  • A player who has not returned after a break will have their chips remain on the table for 30 minutes, after this period their chips will be removed from play.
  • Balancing Tables
  • The movement and placement of players when balancing and breaking tables is ultimately at the discretion of the Tournament Host and their decisions are final.
  • Breaking Tables
  • Players going from a broken table to fill in seats assume the rights and responsibilities of the position. A player must not come into the small blind or dealer postions, but must wait until they button passes them before they can be dealt in.

  • Dead Button
  • Tournament play will use a dead button.
  • The big blind is posted by the player due for it, and the small blind and button are positioned accordingly, even if this means the small blind or the button is placed in front of an empty seat

  • Buttons in Heads-Up play
  • In heads-up play, the small blind is on the button and acts first pre-flop and last on all subsequent betting rounds. The last card is dealt to the button. When beginning heads-up play, the button may need to be adjusted to ensure no player takes the big blind twice in a row.

  • Big Blind Amont is the Minimum Bring-In
  • The minimum initial bet (bring-in) on any betting round is the amount of the big blind on that round unless the player is all-in.

  • New Blind Levels
  • New blind levels will take effect on the next hand after the new level is announced. The next hand commences on the first rifle/shuffle of the deck for the new hand.

  • Dealing
  • To determine the first dealer position of each table at the commencement of a tournament, the cards will be spread face-down and each player will draw one card. The player with the highest value card will be the dealer. In the event that two or more players draw a card of the same rank, those players will re-draw until one player has the higher ranking card
  • The player to the right of the dealer will cut the deck (The deck may only be cut once and the cut must be at least six cards from the top and bottom of the deck)
  • When a player is absent from the table for any reason, their blind will be posted when due. The dealer will post the blind from the absent player's stack.
  • The dealer will be responsible for killing the hand of any player not present at the table by the time action is on the absent player.
  • A dealer may not table a burn card before the previous round of betting is complete.
  • Looking through the muck-pile or deck stub is not allowed.

  • Mis-deals
  • A misdeal occurs when preflop:
    1. The first card dealt to either the small or big blind is exposed due to dealer error
    2. Two or more hole cards have been exposed by the dealer
    3. Two or more boxed cards (cards face up in the deck) are found (also see rule 41.) preflop
    4. An incorrect number of cards has been dealt to a player and the error is discovered before substantial action has occurred (substantial action occurs when 3 players have made any action - check, fold, call or bet - OR 2 players have acted and one of the actions involves a call or bet) this rule should not stop easy errors been fixed by dealing another card to a player who should have received the next card. eg dealer only dealing himself one card.
    5. The button was out of position.
    6. The first card was dealt to the wrong position
    7. Cards have been dealt to an empty seat or a player not entitled to a hand.
    8. A player has been dealt out who is entitled to a hand.
  • In the event of a mis-deal the dealer will retrieve all cards, shuffle, re-cut and commence the deal again.

  • Dealing Irregularities
  • If any hole card other than the first card dealt to the small or big blind is exposed due to dealer error, that card is replaced at the end of the deal by what would have been the first burn card. The exposed card becomes the first burn card. A player may not keep an exposed card.
  • If a card is exposed or flashed due to player error that card remains in play and any player who still has betting options and sees this flashed card has a responsibility to make that card known to all players.
  • A card discovered face up in the deck (boxed card) will be treated as a meaningless scrap of paper. A card being treated as a scrap of paper will be taken out of play and replaced by the next card below it in the deck, except when the next card has already been dealt facedown to another player and mixed in with other downcards. In that case, the card that was face up in the deck will be replaced after all other cards are dealt for that round.
  • A joker is treated as a scrap of paper. Discovery of a joker does not cause a misdeal. If the joker is discovered before a player acts on his or her hand, it is replaced as in the previous rule. If the player does not call attention to the joker before acting, then the player has a dead hand.
  • If a player is discovered to have more or less than 2 cards after substantial action has occurred that player's hand is dead.
  • If the dealer burns and turns before a betting round is complete, the card(s) may not be used, even if all subsequent players elect to fold. Nobody has an option of accepting or rejecting the card. The betting is then completed, and the error rectified in the prescribed manner for that situation as described below:
    FLOP exposed before betting is complete
    • The burn card remains on the table.
    • All exposed cards are returned to the deck, re-shuffled, cut.
    • Pre-flop betting is completed.
    • Re-deal the flop without burning a card.

    TURN exposed before betting is complete
    • The exposed turn card is placed to one side.
    • The burn card remains in place on the table.
    • Betting on the flop is completed.
    • The dealer burns a card (there are now two burn cards in a row on the table) and deals what would have been the river card in the turn card's place.
    • The round of betting on the new turn card is completed.
    • The exposed card is returned to the reminder of the deck. Deck is shuffled and cut.
    • A new river card is dealt without burning a card.

    RIVER exposed before betting is complete
    • The burn card remains on the table.
    • Return the exposed card to the remaining deck, reshuffle and cut.
    • Betting on the turn is completed.
    • A new river card is dealt without burning a card.
  • A dealer may never pre-sort the board cards and may only use the remedies described above.
    i.e. The dealer may not place the burn and board cards face down on the table to be exposed at a later time.
  • If the dealer fails to burn a card or burns more than one card, the error should be corrected if discovered before betting action has started for that round. Once betting action has been taken on a board card by any player, the cards should be returned to the deck and reshuffled.
  • A live card dropped below the table will be shown to all players without delay and remain in play
  • If the deck stub gets fouled for some reason, such as the dealer believing the deal is over and dropping the deck or accidentally dropping the deck on the floor, the deal must still be played out, and the deck reconstituted in as fair a way as possible. (the deck stub is the remainder of the deck after the deal).

  • Dead Hands
  • Your hand is ruled dead if:
    1. You are not at the table when it is your turn to act.
    2. You fold or announce that you are folding.
    3. You release your hand away in a forward motion causing another player to act behind you (even if not facing a bet).
    4. The hand does not contain the proper number of cards and substantial action has already occurred before the error is found (substantial action occurs when 3 players have made any action - check, fold, call or bet - OR 2 players have acted and one of the actions involves a call or bet).
    5. You act on a hand that contains a joker.
    6. You have the clock on you and exceed the specified time limit.
  • Players must protect their own hands at all times. If a dealer kills an unprotected hand by mistake, or an unprotected hand is fouled by another player's cards, the player will have no redress and is not entitled to a refund of bets. If the player initiated a bet or raise and hasn't been called, the uncalled bet or raise will be returned to the player. Reminder, a Host may rule a hand live if he/she feels doing so is in the best interest of the game.
  • A dealer cannot kill a winning hand that was tabled and obviously the winning hand.
  • Cards thrown into the muck may be ruled dead. However, a hand that is clearly identifiable may be retrieved and ruled live at the tournament director's discretion if doing so is in the best interest of the game. An extra effort should be made to rule a hand retrievable if it was folded as a result of incorrect information given to the player.

  • Minimum Bet Amounts and All-In Bets
  • The minimum initial bet (bring-in) on any betting round is the amount of the big blind on that round unless a player is all-in (note: there is a different rule which governs the minimum size of a raise - see rule 65)
  • If the big blind does not have sufficient chips to post the required amount, a player who enters the pot on the initial betting round is still required to enter for at least the minimum bet (unless going all-in for a lesser sum) and a pre-flop raiser must at least double the size of the big blind.
    Example: Blinds are 50/100. BB is all in for $60. The next player wishing to enter the pot must call the minimum amount of $100 or if they wish to raise, must make at least the minimum raise to $200
    In other words, what would be normal betting action pre-flop is never altered by an all-in bet that is less than the big blind amount.
  • At all other times when someone goes all-in for less than the minimum bet, a player has the option of just calling the all-in amount. If a player goes all-in for an amount that is less than the minimum bet, a player who wishes to raise must raise at least the amount of the minimum bet.
    Example: If the minimum bet is $100 and a player goes all-in on the flop for $20, a player may fold, call $20, or raise to at least a total of $120.

  • Oversized Chip Betting
  • Anytime when acting after a bet or blind, placing a single oversized chip (a chip larger than the current bet) in the pot is a call if a raise isn't first verbally declared. To raise with an oversized chip, the raise must be declared before the chip hits the table surface. If a raise is declared (but no amount), the raise is to the amount of that chip.
  • When not acting after a bet or blind, placing an oversized chip in the pot without declaration is a bet of the maximum for the chip.

  • Multiple Chip Betting
  • When facing a bet, unless a raise is first declared, multiple same-denomination chips is a call if removing one chip leaves less than the call amount.
    Example of a call: Pre-flop, blinds are 200-400: Player A raises to 1200 total (an 800 raise), Player B puts out two 1000 chips without declaring raise. This is just a call because removing one 1000 chip leaves less than the amount needed to call the 1200 bet.

    Placing mixed denomination chips in the pot is governed by the 50% standard in Rule 66

  • Method of Betting or Raising
  • In no-limit tournament play, a bet or raise must be made by:
    1. Placing the full amount in the pot in one motion (except when rule 57 applies); or
    2. Verbally declaring the full amount prior to the initial placement of chips into the pot; or
    3. Verbally declaring "raise" prior to the placement of the amount to call into the pot and then completing the action with one additional motion
  • It is the player's responsibility to make their intentions clear and, to protect their rights to make their intended action, players are strongly encouraged to verbalise all bets.
  • Only the dealer may touch the chips in the pot unless the acting dealer does not have the confidence to handle the chips and all players agree that another player may act on the acting dealer's behalf. If change is required a player must either:
    1. exchange chips with another player prior to making an action or
    2. verbalise the bet and receive change from the dealer once the betting has ceased for that round.
    Players are not permitted to take change from another player's bet. Players who do not follow this instruction may be subject to a penalty.

  • Sting Bets / Spashing the Pot
  • String betting is not allowed. Players are required to either use a verbal statement giving the amount of the bet or put the chips into the pot in a single motion, to avoid making a string-bet. (See rule 60 for more information about the correct way to place a bet)
  • Splashing the pot: a player who throws chips into to a pot without placing the chips in front of the pot where they may be clearly viewed and counted, may have to re-bet that amount if it cannot be verified.

  • Raises - Amount of a Raise
  • A raise must be at least the size of the largest previous bet or raise of the current betting round. This rule should be considered in the context to two separate, distinct instructions. One for raising the previous bet (raising) and another for raising the previous raise (re-raising).

    Example for RAISING: Blinds are $100. After the flop Player A bets $600. Player B wants to raise. His minimum raise must be at least the amount of the previous BET of $600. Player B's minimum raise is to $1200

    Example for RE-RAISING: Continuing the example above….Player B has now raised to $1200. Player C wants to re-raise. Her minimum raise must be at least the amount of the previous RAISE. The previous raise was from $600 to $1200, a raise of $600. Therefore Player C's minimum raise is $600, making a total of $1800

  • If a player puts in a raise of 50% or more of the previous bet but less than the minimum raise, he must make a full raise. The raise will be exactly the minimum raise allowed (see exception for multiple same-denomination chips in RULE 59).
  • An all-in wager of less than a full raise does not reopen the betting to a player who has already acted.

    Example 1: SB $100, BB $200, UTG Raises to $500, UTG+1 goes all in for $700 (not a full raise), SB Calls $700, BB Calls $700. UTG may only call as the all-in did not re-open the betting and they already had their opportunity to act.

    Example 2: SB $100, BB $200, UTG Raises to $500, UTG+1 goes all in for $700 (not a full raise), All options are available to SB as he has not yet acted. SB raises to $2000. All options are available to BB a he has not yet acted. BB folds. All options are now available to UTG as he is facing a full raise from SB.

  • Raises - Number Allowed
  • There is no cap on the number of raises in no-limit play

  • Pot Size
  • Dealers will NOT count the pot however a player can request for the chips in the pot to be stacked neatly

  • Verbal Declarations
  • Verbal declarations in turn are binding. Chips placed in the pot in turn must stay in the pot. (See rule below)
  • A player who has taken action based on a gross misunderstanding of the amount wagered may receive some protection by the decision-maker. A "call" or "raise" may be ruled not binding if it is obvious that the player grossly misunderstood the amount wagered, provided no damage has been caused by that action. If the player did not notice the raise because of lack of attention then they will lose what they put in unless they make a full call.
    Example: Player A bets $300, player B raises to $1200, and Player C puts $300 into the pot and says, "call." It is obvious that player C believes the bet to be only $300 and he should be allowed to withdraw his $300 and reconsider his wager.

    The decision-maker is allowed considerable discretion in ruling on this type of situation. See Rule 3

  • Acting out of Turn
  • Players must act in turn. Deliberate or persistent acting out of turn will incur a penalty
  • An action or a verbal declaration out of turn is binding unless the action to that player is subsequently changed by a bet or raise. (A check, call or fold by an intervening player is not considered action changing.)

    Example: Player 2 is on the big blind for $1000. Player 4 raises to $4000 before player 3 has acted

    Scenario A: The intervening player (player 3) calls $1000. Because there is no bet or raise by the intervening player (player 3 has only called the big blind) the bet by player 4 is binding. The $4000 bet stands because a check, call or fold by player 3 is not "action changing".

    Scenario B:The intervening player (player 3) raises to $6000. Because there has been a bet or raise by the intervening player, the action to the out of turn player has changed and player 4 is free to reconsider his/her bet. They may fold, call the $6000 or re-raise. Player 4 CANNOT take their chips out of the pot if they do not what to call the re-raise

  • An out of turn fold is binding.
  • A deliberate or persistent out-of-turn fold or check may incur a penalty, particularly if it causes another player to act out of turn.
  • Conditional statements regarding future action are non-standard and strongly discouraged; they are not binding however will be subject to penalty at the TD's discretion. Example: "if - then" statements such as "If you bet, then I will raise".

  • Acting In Turn
  • A fold in turn when facing a check is binding and may be subject to a penalty. This is considered to be soft play

  • Declarations
  • Cards speak. Verbal declarations as to the content of a player's hand are not binding; however, any player deliberately miscalling his hand may be penalised.

  • Face Up for All-Ins
  • All cards will be turned face up without delay once a player is all-in and all betting action by all other players in the hand is complete.(all live players cards must be face up before the board cards are revealed)

  • Showdown Order
  • In a non-all-in showdown, at the end of the last round of betting, the player who made the last aggressive action in that betting round must show first. If there was no bet in the last round, the player to the left of the button shows first and so on clockwise.

  • Show One, Show All
  • Players are entitled to receive equal access to information about the contents of another player's hand. If the hand is shown to a player holding a live hand then it will be shown without delay however if it is shown to a player that does not have any further wagering decision in that hand then it will be shown when that hand has finished.

  • Playing The Board at Showdown
  • A player must show both hole cards when playing the board in order to get part of the pot.

  • Asking to see a Hand
  • A request to see hand may be granted at the TD's discretion to protect the integrity of the game only (suspicion of invalid hand, collusion etc). This privilege is not to be abused.

  • Split Pots
  • Suits never break a tie
  • In flop games when there are 2 or more high hands, the odd chip(s) will go to the left of the button.

  • Disputed Pots
  • The right to dispute a hand ends when a new hand begins. A new hand begins with the first rifle/ shuffle for the new hand
  • Players are not permitted to make deals at any game whereby one player agrees to give another player a higher finish, thus giving a player more points than they actually earn.

  • Elimination Final Standings
  • If two or more players are eliminated on the same hand, the player with the most chips at the beginning of the hand will finish in the higher position. If two or more players have the same amount of chips, the player with the higher finishing hand will finish in the higher position. In the case that two players leave with the same hand and same chip count then the higher position is determined by drawing for a high card, in this case any prizes that can be split will be split between these players
  • Any private agreement that excludes one or more active players is improper and may be viewed as collusion.
  • Players are not permitted to make deals at any game whereby one player agrees to give another player a higher finish, thus giving a player more points than they actually earn.


    General manners and courtesy toward fellow players is an essential etiquette rule. Players shall refrain from making insulting or offensive comments to other players or about other players, behaviour of a threatening or intimidating nature WILL NOT be accepted and the three stage penalty system will apply, however the Tournament Host will exclude players from the game without warning if they determine player behaviour warrants the action.

    In addition, the following are improper, and grounds for warning, penalising, suspending, or barring a violator:

    1. Abusive or disruptive behaviour
    2. Cheating.
    3. Deliberately acting out of turn.
    4. Agreeing to check a hand out when a third player is all-in.
    5. Soft playing by refusing to bet against a certain opponent whenever heads-up.
    6. Chip-dumping.
    7. Reading a hand for another player at the showdown before it has been placed faceup on the table.
    8. Revealing the contents of a live hand before the betting is complete.
    9. Revealing the contents of a folded hand before the betting is complete. Do not divulge the contents of a hand during a deal even to someone not in the pot, so you do not leave any possibility of the information being transmitted to an active player.
    10. Needlessly stalling the action of a game.
    11. Deliberately discarding hands away from the muck.
    12. Stacking chips in a manner that interferes with dealing or viewing cards.
    13. Chips should not be stacked in a "messy manner" and opponents should have a clear view of larger denomination chips.(this means that you cannot hide your chips from view from any player)
    14. Making statements or taking action that could unfairly influence the course of play, whether or not the offender is involved in the pot.
    15. Using a phone for communication.
    16. Rabbit Hunting or Window Shopping.
    17. Burn cards are a part of the board and should be kept visible with the board at all times.


      The Tournament Host/Director can assess a 1-hand penalty, 1, 2, 3, or 4-round penalties or disqualification. For the period of the penalty the player will remain away from the table but continue to be dealt in. Repeat infractions are subject to escalating penalties. Warnings can carry from tournament to tournament. A player who is disqualified shall have his or her chips removed from play.

      Frequently Asked Questions

      Q: Why are some of NPPL's rules different to other leagues/poker rooms and what should I tell players who argue with me about it?
      A: We run tournaments using a universal set of rules that have been adapted and chosen from an industry standard set, in order to best fit our environment and players. Sometimes these will differ to other rules you have seen - this is why the term "House Rules" was invented. It is extremely difficult to include every action that may occur in a Poker Game within a set of rules however NPPL does endeavor to update and maintain its rules. The rules that are stated in this document and on the NPPL website.

      Q: Why is the small blind on the button during head's up?
      A: Pre-flop, you must always deal away from the button so therefore you must deal to the big blind first. Post-flop, although the big blind is first to act (when normally the small blind would be), the dealer is a more important position and must always retain the right to act last.

      Q: Can a player fold their hand at any time?
      A: NO! Folding is an action, therefore it can only be done in turn. It does not matter who is at your table, or how friendly you are, it's the rules! Why? Some players make their decisions based on how many people are in the hand. If you're holding a marginal hand like J,8 off-suit at an 8 person table, and 6 other people have called an $800 big blind, you would assume that they have pocket pairs, high connectors, suited connectors, etc and have you beat, so you fold. If you were last to act and you folded your J,8 FIRST, then other players with marginal hands might be tempted to stay in because they know they have less people to beat before they have to act. If you need to get up from the table during a folded hand, you shouldn't throw it away before the action gets to you. Proper etiquette is to tell the floor person you would like to be folded (since we do not have a separate dealer).

      Q: Can I break the rules?
      A: We certainly do not encourage you to go against the general rules of Hold'em, however at times you will be required to bend the rules given that you are not directing professional players. Your players will make simple mistakes however you should have a strategy in place that prevents people abusing the bend in the rules. E.g. if a player goes All In before another player has acted, allow them to continue the action, however if they do it again they will be forced to limit their action to that of the player/s before them.

      Q: How should I balance tables?
      A: There is a right way and a wrong way to do this. How you assign seats should never be left up to the players. You should never tell them to go wherever they want to go. You must try and ensure that players are not disadvantaged by a move. This different to what would happen in a Casino or Online Tournament. You are the Tournament Director, the word Director is there for a reason.

      If you only need to move one player, try and move the player into the same position or as close to their previous position as possible.

      Players do not tell hosts where they are going to sit.
      Players requests to sit at a particular table when a table is broken up should be refused.

      If you are moving an entire table, here are some rules you should follow:

      1. Always break tables in a preset order.
      2. Always have a strategy for balancing an entire table. 1.If you are breaking up a table of 6 people again try to place these players in the same position. If this is not possible who may tell the player to wait for the blind to pass.

      Q: If a player exposes one or both of their cards while the hand is still being played, is their hand dead?
      A: No. They suffer the disadvantage for that hand, however in pro tournaments they would likely be penalized in some way. If a person accidentally does it, for example if they are All-In but there are still other players to call, they are still in the hand. If a player does it more than once, and you do not believe it to be accidental, consider warning them or ejecting them from the tournament.

      Q: Why is it bad if I or a player says something like "who has the Ace for the flush?!"?
      A: If you have played poker before, and gotten into the danger of flopping a straight without seeing the flush draw on the board, you'll know the pain of being beaten at showdown when you thought you had the best possible hand. It is a player's responsibility to read the board, and if you're the player with the sneaky little flush, you can suck out a lot of money from a hand if other player's don't suspect you of having anything. This is why you should NEVER and never encourage, players to read the board. You should never point out what cards are needed to make a certain hand or what hands are possible. Not only is it bad etiquette, you could be destroying someone's game plan.

      Q: Should I redraw for seating when we go to the final table?
      A: When breaking down to the final two table's players should redraw for dealing position.

      If you want to make your players feel special, you can draw for each seat at the final table. You should always re-draw for the dealer position when you get to the final table.

      Q: Should I redraw for the button when I move players to another table?
      A: No. The standard rule of "you must assume the responsibilities of a seat" overrides other rules you may have read/heard about regarding re-drawing for the button when you move more than ½ or 3 or more (this only applies to 6-man tables anyway) players to a new table. Break tables according to the rules mentioned in this document and only redraw for dealer/seating at the final table.

      Q: I'm on the bubble for the final table. Should I go into hand-for-hand mode?
      A: Yes, In live tournaments they would do this.

      Q: What should I do if I am confused about a rule?
      A: 1. Please speak to one of the Hosts at any NPPL game

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