Understanding Side Pots

Normally at the end of each betting round in a game of poker, all of the chips that each player has bet are moved to the center of the table and added to the pot. However this will not do when one or more players have gone all-in. Player(s) can go all-in when they do not have enough chips to call the previous bet and as a result it is necessary to use side pots in order to equitably manage the process of distributing the correct amount of chips to the winner(s).

Method for determining side pot(s) at then end of a betting round when one or more players have gone All-In:

  1. Determine the amount of each All-In bet (if there is more than one)
  2. Select the amount of the smallest All-In bet (if there is more than one)
  3. Deduct that amount from all the bets and add it to the current pot
  4. Close the current pot and move it off to the side (as a side pot)
  5. Start a new current pot
  6. Repeat steps 1 to 5 if there are more All-In bets
  7. Move the remaining bets to the current pot
  8. If a side pot has only one player, the chips are returned to the player

Players that have contributed to a given side pot are eligible to win that side pot. Players that have not contributed to a given side pot are not eligible to win that side pot.

Example Side Pot Calculation

At the end of the first round of betting in a Texas Hold’em game with ten players, there is $78 on the table and the amount bet by each player is as follows:

Al $10 Fred $10

Bob $10 Greg $10

Carl $10 Hal $5 (All-in)

Dan $10 Joe $2 (All-in)

Ed $10 Ken $1 (All-in)

There are three All-in bets for $5, $2 and $1.

Ken has the smallest All-in bet of $1

Deduct $1 from each bet and add it to the current pot

Now the table looks like this:

Al $9 Fred $9

Bob $9 Greg $9

Carl $9 Hal $4 (All-in)

Dan $9 Joe $1 (All-in)

Ed $9 Ken $0

Side pot A: $10 (everyone)

Current pot: $0 (nobody)

There are two more All-in bets for $4 and 1$

Joe has the smallest All-in bet of $1

Deduct $1 from each bet and add it to the current pot

Now the table looks like this:

Al $8 Fred $8

Bob $8 Greg $8

Carl $8 Hal $3 (All-in)

Dan $8 Joe $0

Ed $8 Ken $0

Side pot A: $10 (everyone)

Side pot B: $9 (everyone except Ken)

Current pot: $0 (nobody)

There is one more All-in bet of $3

Deduct $3 from each bet and add it to the current pot.

Now the table looks like this:

Al $5 Fred $5

Bob $5 Greg $5

Carl $5 Hal $0

Dan $5 Joe $0

Ed $5 Ken $0

Side pot A: $10 (everyone)

Side pot B: $9 (everyone except Ken)

Side pot C: $24 (everyone except Joe and Ken)

Current pot: $0

There are no more All-in bets so just move the remaining bets to the current pot

Now the table looks like this:

Al $0 Fred $0

Bob $0 Greg $0

Carl $0 Hal $0

Dan $0 Joe $0

Ed $0 Ken $0

Side pot A: $10 (everyone)

Side pot B: $9 (everyone except Ken)

Side pot C: $24 (everyone except Joe and Ken)

Current pot: $35 (everyone except Hal, Joe and Ken)

All $78 has been distributed correctly to each side pot

At the end of the hand, each side pot is won by the contributing player with the best hand. In the case of a tie, the side pot is split between the contributing winners.

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