Most Unusual WSOP Rules


Posted: April 29, 2022

Updated: April 29, 2022

  • World Series of Poker is one of the oldest and biggest poker tournaments
  • It has its own rules with some very weird ones
  • Too much talking can be punished while headphones are allowed
Image source: rbdo7843, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Each sport has its own rules and poker is no exception. What’s more, one of the biggest poker tournaments, the World Series of Poker has its own special regulation. Like different sanctions on bad behaving players or the ban of advertising crypto-currency and marijuana products. Both belong to the most unusual WSOP rules, see some more below. 

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The World Series of Poker is one of the most prestigious poker tournaments of the world, founded in Las Vegas in 1970. In the first event only seven players took part, now it’s a 6-week tournament with 88 bracelet events. Thanks to TV broadcasting, the Main Event can be watched all over the world with the best poker players taking part in it. But even they need to comply with the tournament’s special rules beside the well-known poker regulations. Probably even less experienced players are aware of the basics, like the names of different actions, betting rounds and poker hands. Or the rule of table stakes which means that you can only bet whatever amount you had on the table at the beginning. And you can’t add more later. But WSOP has some unique rules too with some of them sounding quite weird first. 

Too much talking can be punished in one of the most unusual WSOP rules

Having some small talk during a poker game is normal, but too much chatting can be disruptive. It’s even a punishable offense according to the WSOP organizers, making it one of the most unusual WSOP rules. More conventional rules mention that English is the official language of the event. And official poker terminology should be used during the tournament. While another important rule is that players can’t talk about the hand in progress. There is only one exception, as the final two players in a heads-up tournament might discuss even their current hands. Luckily you don’t have this issue if you play on one of the online poker sites in the US like Everygame Poker

most unusual WSOP rules
Image source: Photos by flipchip /, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ban of advertising of crypto-currency and marijuana products

Poker players are getting more and more popular, so it’s not surprising that different companies and organizations want to advertise through them. In most cases players wear patches of poker rooms or other training sites. Which is absolutely fine by WSOP but they don’t allow the wearing of clothes that are deemed objectionable. A rather strange expression but what it really covers are crypto-currency and marijuana products. It might sound a bit strange especially as consumption lounges for cannabis products became legal last year in Vegas. But these lounges can’t be in or within 1500 feet of a casino, which explains WSOP’s strict rule. 

Bad weather can stop the tournament

Poker is played inside, so not many of us would think about bad weather as a disruptive factor. But only three years ago an 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck Southern California near Ridgecrest. The shockwaves were felt even at the location of the tournament, at the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino. More than 4000 players were taking part in $10,000 No Limit Texas Hold’em tournament when it happened. Some players took shelter under the table or escaped the room. While others didn’t bother at all and just stayed at their tables. Play was paused and dinner break was announced to settle the nerves. Now the rules say that if the tournament can’t run due to bad weather or other reasons, eg. computer virus, it can be cancelled or suspended. 

Stacking is recommended

Keeping a nice order in front of you can be very useful. As if you stack in 20s, everyone can see how much you are playing. And you can keep track on your and your rivals’ chips as well. This is the image we also have from films and music videos.  But stacking your chips can really make the whole game more smooth. Just imagine, how much time it would take to count your bet if your chips set in just one big pile. Like it happened with a Hungarian player, Szabolcs Mayer at a World Poker Tour final a couple of years ago. His heads-up match with Italian Alessio Isaia became the longest in WPT’s history due to Mayer’s mess and long decision making as it was also reported by online poker news sites in the US. 

most unusual WSOP rules
Mike Eise at the ’09 WSOP – Image source: photo by flipchip, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Headphones can be used 

You need to focus 100% when you’re playing a poker game, as you can loose and win big amounts. Some players use headphones in order to concentrate and block out all unnecessary noises. Which also means, that they don’t take part in the table conversations. Listening to music can also get you in a mood and help against boredom. WSOP also allows players to use them along with MP3 and iPod players. But any device used for filming and recording is prohibited. Regarding clothes, rules are quite relaxed though. Players can wear literally anything from hoodies to sunglasses, while some players even wear weird costumes during the tournament. With Phil Hellmuth having the most ridiculous one after dressing up as Julius Caesar and appearing on a real chariot with real horses. 

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