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Kill Pot

Kill Game - Half Kill - Full Kill - Kill Pots

by Jesse Knight
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Kill Pot
Kill Pot – A pot in which the betting limits are increased, due to certain conditions being met.


Some poker games are spread as “Kill games.” When a game is played with a kill, by rule, the betting limits are increased when certain conditions are met. These conditions can vary depending upon the type of poker game that is being played, and upon house rules. How the kill pot is played out procedurally is also subject to house rules, and these can be different from casino to casino.

Kill games are typically played with either a full kill or a half kill. The difference between a full kill and a half kill is in the amount that the limits are raised once the conditions for a kill are met. With a full kill, the betting limits are doubled, so that a 4/8 game becomes an 8/16 game, so long as the kill conditions continue. With a half kill, the limits are raised by 50% rather than 100%, so that a 4/8 game becomes 6/12. Occasionally, you will see a game with a 3 and 6 chip betting structure have a 1/3 kill. This just means that the bets increase from 3 chips and 6 chips, to 4 chips and 8 chips, when the kill is in play.

When a player meets the conditions required for a kill pot to take place, the dealer places a “kill button” in the pot before pushing it to the winning player. Possession of this button by any player, rather than the dealer, indicates that a kill pot is underway. The player who possesses the kill button is obligated to “post the kill” This means that they must post a blind wager, in addition to the game’s regular blinds, equal to one small bet at the new, higher betting limit. If the player who is killing the pot (known as “the killer”) is in the blinds, this wager will fulfill his blind obligation, in effect replacing his blind, and he will not have to post both. If the game is a full kill, the killer will typically have to post twice the amount of the big blind. If the game is a half kill, the killer will only have to post 150% of the big blind. House rules dictate whether the killer acts in turn or has last action before the flop.

The kill condition is used primarily in Hold’em games and Omaha Hi-Lo games (also called Omaha Eight or Better or O8), although you may occasionally see it used in other types of poker games as well. The kill necessarily operates differently between Hold’em and O8, because the games are so different. The most important differences are the conditions which trigger the kill, which are not at all alike.

Omaha Eight or Better is a Hi-Lo split game, which means that much of the time the best (high) hand and lowest (low) hand split the pot. However, in order for this to happen, the low hand must qualify, or by rule it cannot be considered for low. In Omaha Eight or Better, the “Eight or Better” describes the qualifier for low hands; it means that in order for a hand to be considered as a low it must contain five unpaired cards of eight or lower. If no low hand qualifies, the high hand wins the entire pot. In order for a kill pot to be triggered in an O8 game, two conditions must be met. The first condition is that the pot must be scooped by one player. This can happen either because no low hand has qualified, or because the same player has made both the best high hand as well as the best low hand. The second condition is that the pot must meet a minimum threshold, generally about ten to fifteen small bets in size. If either of these conditions is not met, the kill is not triggered, and normal play continues until one is.

The kill is triggered, quite differently in a Hold’em game. Typically, a kill is triggered in a Holdem game when a player wins two or more consecutive qualifying pots. Since qualifying takes place over the course of multiple hands in a Holdem game, a two sided kill button is used to keep track of the stages. The two stages are called “leg up” and “kill,” and they are printed as such on the kill button, one on each side. Initially, the kill button is placed on its “leg up” side, and is part of the pot. The winner of the pot retains the button and now has a “leg up.” If they lose the next hand, they surrender the leg up button to the winner of the pot. If instead they win the next pot, they will have fulfilled the conditions for a kill. This would require them to flip the button to its “kill” side and post the kill. If the killer wins the kill pot, another kill pot ensues on the subsequent hand, ad infinitum. As soon as the killer loses, the button is surrendered as a leg up button to the winner of the pot. By rule certain conditions, such as a split pot, constitute a “walk,” rather than a “win” when considering kill qualification. A “walk” simply means that there is no change in kill status, and players must carry through their buttons to the next hand dealt.

Kill games are frequently favored by the house because they can often increase the amount of revenue that the house can take in from the game. This is partly because the action on a kill pot is artificially increased through the implementation of the kill. Both the raising of the stakes and the posting of additional blinds contribute to the increase in action on kill pots. Players tend to either love or despise the kill condition, depending upon whether or not they are comfortable with the increase in action it brings.

See also straddle.

Usage: Killing the Pot, Killed the Pot, Half-Kill, Killer Posted the Kill

Previous Poker Term: Kicker
Next Poker Term: Lay Down

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