Dealer error: do we force player to pay?

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Interesting issue at a private game last night.

* Player A bets 100 on the flop.(Edited to add: this is a typo. The bet amount was 125. This error led to some confusion in the first response, below.)
* Dealer announces the bet as 125.
* Action folds around to Player B, who says "I call," and pushes out 100.
* Dealer corrects Player B, telling him the bet is 125. Player B says, "Oh, I thought it was only 100. I fold," and pulls back his chips and pushes out his cards.
* Dealer mucks Player B's hand.
Action then folded back to Player A who insisted that the $100 should go into the pot. I was asked for a ruling.


On the one hand, I understand that, technically, the $100 belongs in the pot: there was forward motion and the chips crossed a clearly delineated betting line.

On the other hand, we are a private game and I honestly believe Player A: there was no angle-shot here; he honestly mis-heard the bet amount. I think it odd that he would call 100 and not 125, but that's his business. We generally have allowed players to withdraw bets under these circumstances, especially when no significant action has occurred behind them (which had not in this case).

Additionally, Player B's cards were mucked and not identifiable. If they were identifiable, I would have offered him the chance to pay the full bet amount and play his cards. Under the circumstances, forcing him to pay the $100 seemed only punitive, which I generally try to avoid.


Dave Miller:
Twice you said “$100”. Other times you said “100” or “125”.

If you meant $100 cash chips, then I would have insisted it stay in the pot. After all, if you’re playing at those nose-bleed levels, you should be paying attention and know the rules. And at those levels, even a friendly private game should be playing by casino / Robert’s / TDA rules.

I’m pretty sure you meant 100 tournament chips. As such I would have handled it exactly as you did for a variety of reasons. Notably, keep it friendly, and you’ve made similar rulings in the past.

Thanks for answering. I made a mistake in my summary of the action. The bet was $125 and was announced as $125.

Player B called only $100 (a single red stack) and, when I asked him about it afterwards, he explained that the extra $25 was "hidden behind the larger stack" when Player A bet. The dealer had counted out the full $125, but the extra five nickels were, in fact, placed behind the larger stack of $100. When Player B called only $100, the dealer corrected him (before any further action) and the player pulled his bet back and folded... and the dealer immediately mucked the hand.

So, here's the essence of the question: the player misheard the bet amount and called a smaller amount than was actually bet. The dealer corrected his misunderstanding and allowed the player to fold his hand and keep his money.

@Dave Miller:

I edited my original post to correct my error.

Can I interpret your comment to mean that, in the case I described (where the player says he misheard the bet amount and no further action has yet occurred), you would force him to put $100 in the pot?

Dave Miller:
You originally made it sound like a home game amongst friends. Now it sounds like underground/illegal game. In that case, yes, the money stays in. Know the rules.


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