Ruling! #11 – Verbally Binding

By Kelli Mix | January 17, 2010

The Scenario

During a hand Player A announces “all-in” and moves his stack forward. Player B then repeats this and says “all-in” in a quiet puzzled tone as he considers why he’s done it. Player A then demands that it should stand and Player B be held to account for saying “all-in” – even though it seemed he was merely repeating what player A said.

What is the ruling and at what point does such a statement become loud enough to be taken as binding?

Kelli’s Ruling

In poker, verbal is binding. Therefore you should always be very careful of what you say, especially when it comes to words like, “call, raise, and all-in.” It would be difficult to ask the dealer to take tone inflection into consideration – if the dealer hears all-in, regardless of how it is said it can be considered a verbally binding statement. Had the player said something like, “You’re all-in?” that would be different, but saying just “all-in” and repeating the words “all-in” can sound exactly the same.

If it was said so quietly that the dealer can’t even confirm he heard it then, no, it is not a verbally binding statement. The bottom line is say what you mean and mean what you say – don’t rely on the rest of the table to interpret your meaning.

By Kelli Mix

Kelli is the author of the 'Game Day Poker Almanac - Official Rules of Poker'. She lives in Carrollton, Georgia, where she is the state director for the Poker Players Alliance.


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