Split Pots- Are they a waste of your time?

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Split Pots- An Introduction

Poker is a game that is easy to learn but takes time to master. The aim of the game is to form the best 5-Card poker hand. In Texas Hold’em, you use the two-face down cards dealt to you along with any five community cards on the table to form this poker hand. Based on the poker hand rankings, you can see how highly ranked your hand is. Some hands like a Three of a Kind or Four of a Kind, have to be complete. To complete these the extra card is known as the kicker which decides if it will be a split pot or not. If the hand is a tie, then the higher ranked kicker wins the pot. In the case that both players are holding the exact same 5 cards, the pot is split.

When Does Split Pot Poker Apply?

Generally, poker follows the concept where one winner, whose poker hand ranks the highest takes it all home. A tie occurs when players have identical hand rankings with identical cards. In this case, the pot will be split, and the chips are divided equally amongst the players. Poker pot splits are common in games like No-Limit Texas Hold’em and Omaha Hi among others.

What are kickers? - Scope of Kickers in a Split Pot Situation

Poker pot splits generally come down to kickers. In poker, kickers work somewhat as tie-breakers. To complete a Three of a Kind poker hand or a Four of a Kind poker hand, you need two more cards that will form the best 5-card poker hand. In the case that players have the same poker hand rank, for example, a Four of a Kind, the next deciding factor would be their cards. If they have identical cards to form this Four of a Kind, then we look at the extra card in their 5-card poker hand. This kicker will be the deciding factor. The player who has a higher ranked kicker card wins the pot. In the case that they have the same kicker card, then it is a split pot.

Let's study the effect of a kicker with the help of an example.

Player A has the cards: Jack, 10, 9, 3 and a 4

Player B has the cards: Ace, 10, 9, 3, and a 4

In this scenario, the Jack held by player A will be the kicker. While the Ace held by player B will be the kicker. As an Ace is a higher ranked card than a Jack, the winner of the pot will be player B.

Now let’s see a poker split pot example:

Player A has the cards: 10 and 4

Player B has the cards: 10 and 3

The board displays the following 5 community cards: 10, 6, 6, 2, and an Ace.

In this scenario, both player A and B have a two-pair in the following manner:

Player A’s cards: 10, 10, 6, 6 and Ace

Player B’s cards: 10, 10, 6, 6 and Ace

Since both players A and B have an identical two pair along with identical cards, the pot will be split.

How are Leftover Chips Divided in case of a Split Pot?

While dealing with a split pot poker situation, there frequently arises the need of adjusting leftover chips. Two or more lower denomination chips could be remaining to be split depending upon how many players have the tie. There are specific rules to how these odd chips should be awarded and to whom. In a high-low split game like the Omaha Hi-Lo Eight, the leftover chips are always given to the person with the higher hand. Higher hand, of course, meaning to the player with a card ranking better than that of his competitor.

In other game types, split pot poker situations are handled by giving the leftover chips to the player sitting left of the dealer. Sometimes, it is also awarded to the player whose hand contains the highest-ranking single card using suits to break ties if necessary, where clubs rank the lowest, followed by diamonds, hearts, and finally spades, at the highest rank.

How Does Chopping Play a Role in Split Pot Poker?

Split pot poker will come into context another time during ‘Chopping’. The phrase “Chop it up” which is standard verbiage amidst poker tables, you must be assured that the pot is going to be split between the winning players, in the case of a tie. Although, chopping does come into use a couple of other times in poker as well.

  1. Chopping the blinds
    During most cash games, players could choose to chop the blinds, which they mostly practice doing anyway. When all players at the table decide to fold to the big and small blind. This then nullifies the blinds and forces them to take their bets off the table. This is done due to social trust, saving time, and even reducing the rake. Rake is the commission received by the house, which does not significantly add to the pot. Chopping of blinds is not allowed in poker tournaments.
  2. Chopping the tournament - In for a chop
    The term in for a chop refers to a player proposing for a split pot poker. The player is referring to the value left as a prize and suggests a split pot. In this case the winning amount is equally distributed amongst those remaining. Split pot poker at such times is not allowed by all organizers, but generally, it is practised provided all players at the table agree for a split pot.

Where You Are Most Likely to Witness Split Poker

A long list of poker variations generally abide by the split pot poker principle.

Omaha Hi-Lo: Omaha Hi-Lo is the most popular of these games, where almost every game ends with a split pot. Here, split pots are often divided between the best high and low hand. It could very well be possible that the same player may win in both categories, thus, scoop the pot.

7-Card Stud/ Hi-Lo Eight or Better, Crazy Pineapple Hi-Lo, Low Chicago, and 5-Card Draw Hi-Lo are all popular examples of split pot poker. In these games, the players compete for half the pot. This leads to the cost of betting and the price to call forever being dynamic and unpredictable.

In poker, the aim of the game is to take home the pot. However, in this the approach is different as you will have your eyes on winning half of the pot. It’s best not to aim for a split pot especially when you have a good hand.

Now that you know when poker pots are split and how it’s done in different situations, it would be best for you to head over to Spartan Poker and get started with your first online poker tournament and see if you could experience any of the situations you read about in this blog. All the very best!

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