In 2003, amateur Chris Moneymaker earned a spot in the World Series of Poker through the internet and went on to win the tournament, giving the game a tremendous boost in popularity. At the time I assumed the national focus on poker was simply a trend that would eventually die down, like reality shows or terrorism. For the first and final time in my life, however, I was wrong.

Four years later, it's impossible to change the channel without coming across a poker show. There's the aforementioned World Series Of Poker, World Poker Tour, Celebrity Poker Showdown, Poker After Dark, You Can't Poker On Television, Hey Asshole That's My Poker, Poker Poker Poker and Rock Smasho: Kung-Fu Botanist. You'd think that poker would start get a little old with such an overabundance of programming dedicated to the topic, but I can't get enough of it. Every night I lie in bed and imagine myself at the final table of a tournament, intimidating my competition with the raise of an eyebrow and making out with Shana Hiatt while hundred dollar bills rain down from a broken moneypipe in the ceiling. I never really imagine myself playing poker though, because after four years I still have no idea how the game actually works.

If I want to make my dream of playing in a poker tournament come true, I have no choice but to bear down and study the Official Poker Tournament Rules. Conveniently enough, I have them right here!

Tournament Requirements/Guidelines

  • To enter a tournament, you must pay an entry fee of around $5,000 to $15,000 per axle. Bicyclists get in free. People in wheelchairs are forbidden.
  • Alternately, you can win a position in the tournament through a "satellite", which in poker terms is essentially a large mechanical object that orbits the Earth while sending and receiving data.
  • Players are required to bring their "A" game. Any player caught with a "B" game will have it confiscated and be sent home without a refund for their entry fee. Players caught attempting to smuggle "C" games into the tournament will be shot to the full extent of the law.

The Rules Of Poker

  • Most tournaments use a poker variation called Texas Hold Em, which replaced Texas Drop Em in 1998 due to the tremendous amount of time involved in picking cards up off of the floor after every hand.
  • Each player is dealt two cards, unless the dealer runs out of cards. In this case players will be asked to share their cards with the person next to them.
  • At this point, a "pre-flop" betting round begins. During this stage, players are encouraged to prepare for the flop by raising the provided tarps above their heads.
  • A total of five community cards are placed face-up on the table. If you can guess how many cards are on the table, you win all five.
  • Players must go in turns. For instance, if Player 1 casts Firaga on Player 2 and kills him, Player 4 must wait until Player 3 has finished his turn before using a Phoenix Down.
  • Tapping the table is a "check". Pushing the cards away from yourself is a "fold". Rubbing your face on the table's felt and moaning suggestively is a "mating call"
  • The best hand is determined by the following:

    - Two pairs beat one pair

    - Three of a kind beats two pairs

    - A straight beats three of a kind

    - A flush beats a straight

    - A full house beats a flush

    - Four of a kind beats a full house

    - A straight flush beats four of a kind

    - Scissors beat cards

  • Once the field is narrowed down to two players, they will have one hour to play until one of them has taken all of the other's chips. If one hour passes and both players still have chips, the winner will be determined by a dance-off, judged by audience applause.

The Grizzly Bears

  • Do not make sudden movements while any of the bears are nearby (raising your hands in victory, looking at your cards, mouthing "where did these bears come from?", etc.)
  • If a grizzly eats your chip stacks, there is no recourse. Their decisions are final.


  • Players may wish to wear accessories to conceal their facial expressions and any tells they might inadvertently broadcast. It is within the rules to wear: sunglasses, baseball caps, hockey masks, horse blinders, the Shroud of Turin, an epidermis made of clay, paper bags, holographic projections of eye surgery, those masks you cut out from the backs of cereal boxes, a placenta, fake mustaches
  • Not allowed: actual mustaches
  • Be courteous to your fellow players. Most of the pros probably have at least a few million bucks, and someone's bound to put you in their will.
  • When placing a bet, the chips you are wagering should be deposited in front of your cards. They should not be placed in the center of a makeshift trap that will sever the dealer's arm when he attempts to collect your chips and give them to your opponent.
  • You may see a woman in a tournament. She might even be seated at your table, or right next to you. Stay calm and observe the protocols established for this situation in comic book shops. Ask the woman questions like "So, you like poker?" and sweat profusely. Tell her you like her shirt and awkardly touch it under the guise of seeing what the fabric feels like. Go home and replay the entire night in your head for the next year, envisioning how different things would have been if you had ESP so you could have pretended you liked the same things she did.
  • Shoving another player to the ground and stealing all of his chips is generally frowned upon, but does not violate any specific rules. Use good judgment, and employ this strategy sparingly.
  • Limit your "I beat you!" celebrations to less than five minutes, with no more than three of those minutes spend laying on the ground and laughing as you roll from side to side and wildly kick your legs.

Well that seems easy enough.

– Dennis "Corin Tucker's Stalker" Farrell (@DennisFarrell)

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