Modest Rules Changes in Store for 2017 WSOP


The World Series of Poker is little more than three weeks away from kicking off its 2017 edition and, as is customary in the run-up to the series, WSOP tourney staff have now published the updated rules and regulations that will govern the WSOP. So what’s new for 2017? What’s changed?  We’ve gone through this year’s updates rule by rule and here’s what we’ve found.

The WSOP has updated and clarified Rule 60, referring to “nonstandard and unclear betting,” most often when betters omit the denomination from their words.

Here’s last year’s rule:

60. Non-Standard and Unclear Betting: participants use unofficial betting terms and gestures at their own risk. These may be interpreted to mean other than what the participant intended. Also, whenever the size of a declared bet can reasonably have multiple meanings, it will be ruled as the lesser value. For example, “I bet five.” If it is unclear whether “five” means 500 or 5,000, the bet stands as 500.

And now, for 2017:

60. Non-Standard and Unclear Betting: participants use unofficial betting terms and gestures at their own risk. These may be interpreted to mean other than what the participant intended. Also, whenever the size of a declared bet can reasonably have multiple meanings, the bet will be valued at the largest amount possible that does not exceed the value of the pot. Example: Blinds are 200-400 and the first player to act on the flop throws out a 5K chip and announces “Five”. If the amount of the pot at this time is less than 5,000, the bet will be 500. If the amount of the pot is 5K or more, the bet will be 5000.

In practice, the clarification isn’t likely to have a major effect; it’s unlikely that a pot of 5K or more, if already built in the above example, would still have a valid bet amount of less than one tenth of that (500) available to the action player.

The WSOP has also updated rule 80, referring to time allocated when a player calls the clock, in an effort to speed up play. Last year, the player on whom the clock was called had an extra minute to decide, once a TD had reached the table. This year, that minute shrinks to anywhere from 10 to 40 seconds in total, at the TD’s sole discretion.

Here’s the updated rule:

80. Calling-for-clock: Once a reasonable amount of time has passed and a clock is called, Floor People may, in their sole discretion, give the participant an additional 0 up to 30 seconds to make a decision. If action has not been taken when prompted by the Floor Person, there will be a 10-second countdown followed by a declaration or stopwatch alarm. If a participant has not acted before the declaration or alarm sounds, the hand will be dead. Rio, in its sole and absolute discretion, reserves the right, at any time, to invoke a clock or speed up the amount of time allotted for a clock. Any participant intentionally stalling the progress of the game or unnecessarily calling the clock will incur a penalty in accordance with Rules 40, 113, and 114.

A new rule, numbered for the 2017 WSOP as #109, delineates situations in which players’ hands shall be declared dead. That rule, in its entirety:

109. Your hand is declared dead if:

 (Walking away from hand)

 You fold or announce that you are folding when facing a bet or a raise.

 You throw your hand away in a forward motion causing another participant to act behind you even if not facing a bet. Discarding non-tabled cards face down does not automatically kill them; a participant may still table the cards if they remain 100% identifiable. Cards are killed by the dealer when pushed into the muck.

 In stud, when facing a bet, you pick your up-cards off the table, turn your up-cards facedown, or mix your up-cards and down-cards together.

 The hand does not contain the proper number of cards for that particular game, except at stud a hand missing the final card may be ruled live, and at lowball and draw high a hand with too few cards before the draw is live.

 You act on a hand with a joker as a hole-card in a game not using a joker. A participant who acts on a hand without looking at a card assumes the liability of finding an improper card.

 You have the clock on you when facing a bet or raise and exceed the specified time limit.

 Due to the unique game play in Open-Face Chinese, dead hands for that game type are described in the rules governing that game.

Another new rule, numbered for the 2017 WSOP as #110, addresses the unfortunate possibility of accidentally-mucked winning hands:

110. Cards thrown into the muck may be ruled dead. However, a hand that is clearly identifiable may be retrieved and ruled live at management’s discretion if doing so is in the best interest of the game. An extra effort will be made to rule a hand retrievable if it was folded as a result of dealer error or incorrect information given to/by a participant.

And the new Rule 111 touches on those players who might fling their hole cards into other hands, intentional or not:

111. Cards thrown into another participant’s hand are dead, whether they are face-up or facedown. A participant throwing hole cards into the hole-cards of a blind may cause a re-deal. The offending participant will receive a hand, but it will be dealt dead.

How events play out over multiple days is always one of the major challenges facing tourney staff. Last year, virtually all events’ Day 2 sessions were mandated to play at least 10 hours. This year, there’s more leeway:

121. Play on Day 2 and beyond may be suspended prior to the end of scheduled play, and will resume the following day unless otherwise noted in the structure sheet for the event.

The “End of Day” rule has been modified slightly in the case of events where three or fewer tables remain. Here’s the updated rule (new part in bold):

124. End of Day: Ten minutes prior to the end of days play for any event, a random card will be drawn to determine how many additional hands will be played. Playing cards will be used and a random participant will be asked to pick a card face down. If the tournament has already re-drawn to three or less tables as described in Rule #67.c, the clock will not be stopped and play will continue until the ten minutes has expired.

Other notes:

Regarding events that get underway with only a few players having taken their seats, the WSOP already has a time-scheduled rule for determining when and how much in blinds and antes is awarded if only a single player is present. However, this year the WSOP has reserved discretion for extreme circumstances, adding this to the relevant rule: “The Tournament director reserves the right to keep chip stacks out of play until players arrive at the table.”

Thinking of using a credit card to register for an event? You might want to use something other than American Express. The WSOP has notified players that AMEX will be charging a 3.95% processing fee, up from 2.95% last year. (Visa, Mastercard and Discover are holding steady at 2.95%.)

Additional changes, most of the fine-tuning variety, have been made to some of the special poker variants the WSOP annually offers. As with all of the above, details on each of the games offered, and all applicable rules, are available at


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