Misdeal Definition

Misdealt - Misdealing

by Jesse Knight


Misdeal - A deal that is disqualified, usually because of dealer error, and is therefore considered null action.

So that there can be order in the game, there are procedural rules which govern the way the cards are dealt. When the dealer follows these rules, play proceeds smoothly. Sometimes irregularities, like dealer errors, occur during the course of the deal. There are rules which dictate how to deal with irregularities in the deal, and they differ depending upon the seriousness of the violation. If the departure from procedure is not considered that egregious, a simple adjustment to the deal is made. If the procedural violation is more serious, a misdeal may be declared. When a misdeal is declared, the hand is considered null action, and must be restarted. Any bets in the pot are returned to the original bettors. Dealer buttons and kill buttons remain unaffected. All blinds and/or antes are re-posted, and then the dealer restarts the deal with a freshly shuffled deck.

Sometimes it is obvious when a misdeal occurs. When this happens, the dealer will generally just apologize for any dealing error that may have occurred, and will restart the deal. The players will generally accept this, although there can sometimes be hard feelings when a player has a premium hand disqualified because of a misdeal. Sometimes there is a situation which is not cut and dry, and a ruling from the floor man is necessary to determine if a misdeal has occurred. The floor man certainly has the option to declare a misdeal as a resolution to a problem with the deal if he thinks it is appropriate, if he is backed up by the house rules. Generally, if the irregularity in the deal is correctable, and does not substantially affect fairness or the integrity of the game, an attempt will be made to make an adjustment, rather than to call a misdeal. Misdeals are called when an adjustment to the deal is not an adequate resolution, or when the situation specifically calls for a misdeal by rule.

Consider, for example, the following situation, which begins with an adjustment to the deal, and ends with a misdeal. The game is Seven Card Stud, and the dealer has shuffled the deck, and begins to deal each player his starting hand. This consists of three cards, and procedure dictates that the first two are dealt face down, and that the third card is dealt face up. As the dealer begins to deal everyone their first down card, one of his pitches hits the receiving player’s hand, and the card lands face up. In this situation, it really doesn’t matter if it was the player’s fault or the dealer’s fault. What matters is that an irregularity occurred because the first two cards for each player are supposed to be delivered face down. This situation occurs frequently, so a rule has been developed which addresses it specifically. Here, a misdeal would be too severe; an adjustment to the deal is much more appropriate. By rule, the dealer leaves the offending card face up. He continues with the deal, delivering each player their cards in turn, in correct fashion. He compensates by delivering that player’s third card as a down card, while all the other players are receiving their third card as an up card. In this way, everyone is left with a three card hand with two down cards and one up card, and play is not substantially affected. In this case, an adjustment was able to correct the problem without a misdeal being necessary.

But now consider further what would happen if that same player were to also receive their second card face up, by accident, along with their first card. This situation is not correctable by an adjustment, because the rules of Seven Card Stud state that each player must start with three cards consisting of two down cards and one up card. Any other combination of down cards and up cards on third street constitutes an irreparable breach in protocol, and necessitates a misdeal.

There are several common dealing miscues which may result in a misdeal. These include, but are not limited to the following:

• Too many or too few cards dealt
• Critical or multiple cards exposed inappropriately
• A player receiving or taking into his hand another player’s card during the initial deal
• Incorrect placement of the dealer button
• A boxed card, or sometimes an ace exposed, on the initial deal

While it can be frustrating when a misdeal occurs while you have a premium holding, try not to take it personally. Mistakes happen, and over the course of your lifetime, you are statistically as likely to receive benefit from misdeals as they are to cost you, so it’s a zero sum game in the long run. While everyone expects and deserves competent dealing, a misdeal should not be an excuse to be abusive towards the dealer. With this being said, excessive misdealing is a problem and can result in disciplinary action for a dealer in some cases. Many players who have become frustrated by the frequent incompetence of dealers and floor staff in brick and mortar establishments now choose to play poker online. One of the many advantages that online poker has over brick and mortar poker is that misdeals have been completely eliminated.

Usage: The Hand is a Misdeal, Misdealt on My Pocket Aces, It's a Misdeal

Previous Poker Term: Marker
Next Poker Term: Monster


Popular Articles:
Online Poker Tells
Poker Expectation
Playing Pocket Pairs
Basic Loose Aggressive LAG Poker Strategy
Basic Tight Aggressive TAG Poker Strategy
Sit N Go Strategy - Part 1: Early Stages
Sit and Go Tournaments - Part 2: Middle Stages
Single Table Tournament Strategy - Part 3 End Game



(c) Shirley Rosario

More Poker Tips

Poker Journal

Steve Badger