Can the last 2 players in Texas Holdem agree to split the pot equally after the river without showing their hands. is this legal or ethical?

3 Answers 3


This is a form of collusion, and would not be permitted in many casinos or tournaments according to their rules.

A home-game or less-reputable operation may make its own rules that allow this, but it would be considered very dodgy.

Legality does not typically factor, though anywhere in which it matters, either the entire game is illegal anyway or the operation already has rules to ensure they comply with law and regulation.

  • 1
    I assumed he meant legal within the rules of the game.
    – GendoIkari
    Feb 10, 2017 at 18:29
  • Any time the law might or does say a lot about a subject, I assume "legal" means "to do with the law".
    – Nij
    Feb 10, 2017 at 18:45
  • This answer says that splitting the pot without showing hands is considered collusion according to the rules casinos and tournaments. How did you reach this conclusion? Did you actually research the rules for many different casinos and tournaments?
    – Rainbolt
    Feb 20, 2017 at 20:44
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    @Rainbolt anyone who has played any decent amount of love poker can confirm that this would not be allowed in any reputable poker room. Personally I've played in cash games and tournaments in dozens of rooms in several countries and have never seen this allowed.
    – 3N1GM4
    Feb 20, 2017 at 23:17
  • @3N1GM4 Not here to challenge you on correctness. I trust that you and Nij know what you're talking about. A source would improve the answer.
    – Rainbolt
    Feb 21, 2017 at 18:52

I have never seen a poker room or tournament venue in Europe or the US where this would be legal according to the house rules or any version of the TDA rules or similar which may be in effect - the potential for collusion and other angle shooting is very high if it were allowed and for this reason amongst others, I would suggest it is also unethical.

The only way I can imagine a pot would be split between two players without a showdown would be if they both mucked their cards simultaneously, ensuring they were unrecoverable from the muck. In this situation, there would be little choice but to split the pot, but I would expect the players involved to be warned not to do this again, for the sake of the integrity of the game.

In a casual game amongst friends, I'm sure this might be something which happens, but it should still be agreed upon by all players up front to keep the playing field level. I would not play a game for money which allowed this to happen.

  • The second paragraph is incorrect. In order for two players to fold simultaneously, one of those players must take action out of turn. When a player takes action out of turn, the action is only binding as long as the action is still valid when it becomes that player's turn. In this case the action is no longer valid, because the hand ended before it became their turn. So when two players fold simultaneously, the active player loses and the other player gets the pot. Source: pokerschoolonline.com/blogs/TheLangolier/…
    – Rainbolt
    Feb 21, 2017 at 22:19
  • Mucking is different to folding. I'm not describing anyone acting out of turn, but two players who have reached showdown both mucking. While there is still an enforceable order of action at showdown, it is legal (and common) for players who believe they have no chance to win the pot to muck immediately and not follow this order of action. If both players did this at the same time (or at least in quick enough succession as to be unable to determine who mucked first), there are two ways I have seen the outcome ruled in love play, one of which is to split the pot.
    – 3N1GM4
    Feb 22, 2017 at 0:57
  • As always, house rules will be in effect and different rooms can treat this (extremely rare) situation differently depending on their particular rule set.
    – 3N1GM4
    Feb 22, 2017 at 0:58

Each hand in Texas Holdem has players compete to win the pot, or the collection of chips being wagered in that game. Sometimes the pot will end up being split if the betting is extremely high and one player does not have as many chips as their opponents are betting. In this case multiple people can win a part of the pot, but there is still at least one loser in this situation.

There is no rule I am aware of that allows players in a hand to mutually agree to bow out of a hand, but depending on where you're playing this may be a house rule that has been agreed upon and in that case would be legal at the table it's being played at.

Ethics would involve whether or not all players are aware of this rule prior to the start of the game, and agreed to enforce it. If this rule was not brought up, or if not everyone agreed to play by this rule, then it would not be ethical for two players to support it.

In the general sense as each showdown between players is meant to have a loser, one (or more) of the players who are splitting the pot had a weaker hand than the other. In this case the winning player is voluntarily sharing his chips with the losing player, which is against the rules.

  • 1
    Your first paragraph seems to be confusing split pots for side pots. These are two very different things and applying the terminology of one to the other has historically done more harm than help.
    – Nij
    Feb 10, 2017 at 23:28

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