Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Poker And the Infield Fly Rule

Special thanks to Chad Harberts for providing the content—however inadvertently—for this post.  Chad responded to my previous post via Twitter (please see the “revised” post here, down near the bottom). Don’t worry, I’m not talking about that again!  I’m done talking about the dealer and the exposed card!  Two posts and about three changes of mind is enough.

But after Chad tweeted to me saying I was right all along, he sent a follow up tweet that got us on an interesting Twitter conversation.  Remember, Chad is a long-time dealer and poker room floor person.  Anyway, I’ll interject some thoughts about our convo, which I’ll reprint below.  That should flesh out the post.  After all, if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s taking something that should take 100 words to write and turning it into a 1,000 word post.

Here we go:

Chad: “There is no sport in America where the players know the rules less than in poker.”

Rob: “lol..Please explain the infield fly rule as it pertains to poker.  J

I was just being silly.  Of course, I ignored the fact the fact that Chad referred to poker as a “sport,” which I don’t agree with.  No point in bringing that up when Chad was clearly on my side in the matter at hand.

The “infield fly rule” came to me because, just the day before, I happened to be watching a baseball game and saw an instance where I actually thought the infield fly rule should have been invoked.  It was not, and I realized that either I had forgotten more about baseball than I thought, or I never understood the rule it in the first place.

You see, the infield fly rule was a running gag between a long time friend and me that goes back decades.  This is actually a friend I am now estranged from.  But he was never a sports fan and one time he heard someone talking about the infield fly rule and asked me to explain it.  This was before Google.  I did the best I could, and because he didn’t really understand baseball, he never got it.  But he would throw it into random conversations as something that made no sense (to him) for years after….pretty much until the time a few years ago when we stopped seeing each other.

Thus when I thought the rule should have been invoked in the game I was watching, it was the first time I’d thought of the rule in years.  And so, it was fresh on my mind when Chad mentioned a sport where people don’t understand the rules—it was the first oddball sports rule that came to mind.  I was just making a joke, but to my surprise and delight, he took me semi-seriously!

Chad: “A bets 10. B calls 10. C raises to 50. D goes all in for 70. Player A asks if C can reraise. What's the dealer answer?”

Rob: “C can't raise unless A or B raise first.”

Chad: “The correct dealer answer is, ‘I'm not going to answer that question with multiple actions pending.’”

Aha!  I thought Chad was just testing my knowledge on what qualifies for a raise in a NL game.  He was really testing me on dealer protocol.  I bet a lot of dealers would not get this right.

Rob: “But if action is on A, doesn't he have the right to ask that question (and have it answered) before he acts?”

Chad: “No, the answer gives extra info to Player A and B, especially B, which is unfair to C. Players should know the rules.”

Chad: “Too many dealers think they are part of the game. They are not. They are simply facilitating the game.”

Rob: “Interesting. If there was no B in the hand, ok to answer?”

Chad: “I believe you can answer then. Though players should know the rules. With multiple actions I would not answer.”

Chad: “The All in for less than a full raise is poker's infield fly rule.”

OMG.  I was suddenly howling with laughter and delight.  Chad had actually accepted my challenge and had come up with something in poker that was somewhat analogous to baseball’s infield fly rule.  It was fantastic, and pleased me no end.  I knew I had to ask Chad if I could turn this thread into a post. 

Our conversation continued for a bit.

Chad: “I was the dealer in this hand. Not only did A and B not know the answer, C didn't either. A called, B folded. C called.”

Rob: “Did C try to raise?”

Chad: “No. He asked when it got to him.”

Rob: “So he wanted to raise...or that was an angle and he wanted A to think he wanted to raise.”

Chad: “My take was he honestly did not know. He was sheepish about asking.”

Rob: “All part of the scam. J

Chad: “Could have been. But it was a game where you could tell some of the players had never played poker in a casino before.”

And there you have it.  Chad took me up on my silly infield fly rule challenge and taught me something about how a dealer is supposed to act when I player asks a question.  How many of you got it right?  I know many of the dealers I had just on my last trip, many new and temporary dealers just brought in for the summer series, would have gotten it wrong.  Did you?

Bonus points for knowing both the poker rule and baseball’s infield fly rule!


  1. Chad is wrong about this. While I agree that players should know the rules. A player on whom the action is on should be able to ask and receive an answer to a relevant rules question. The fact that the answer to that question would be heard by other players is irrelevant.

    A comparable situation is asking about the size of a bet in No Limit poker. If Player silently bets a number of chips, proper procedure is that the dealer simply announces bet, the dealer doesn;t break it down and count it, the dealer doesn't announce the value ... he just announces that there has been a "bet".

    Now the action is on player B. If player C asks "how much is the bet? The dealer should not answer (or the answer should be that when it is C's turn he may ask then). Answering that question at this time would be offering information to B. And that is why t is improper to answer at this time.

    However if B asks ..... B is entitled to an answer. The fact that it is offering information to players C and D who have not asked is irrelevant because player is entitled to the information before he acts.

    And this is true of the question asked in your post. Player B is entitled to that information before he acts.

    Now if there is reason to think that Player B is asking not because he doesn't know the answer but because he is trying to influence the action of other players I believe a floor person can address this individually to put a stop to it.

    1. Thanks, Pete...I see both sides but I'm staying out of this one! We'll see if Chad wishes to respond.

  2. of course the player should be allowed to find out the house rule as to whether someone would get the option to reraise or not before he acts.

    1. This should really be cut and dry, Tony...but I suppose I've heard of strange house rules that would be different from what anyone would assume.

  3. And here I thought the Infield Fly Rule meant "If you're out in the field, name sure your zippers closed before scratching your balls."

    1. Norm...what you've stated is a LIFE rule, not a baseball rule.