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Perhaps the best example comes from draw: You are dealt five cards, which include three of a kind. You discard the two odd cards and are given only ONE by the dealer. But it makes "four of a kind," a very good hand, so the fifth is irrelevant.

Assuming it is, in fact the best hand (or even three of a kind and an odd fourth), is it allowed to win? Or does "too few" cards disqualify it from winning?

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Why would you be short a card? I understand the rule in draw poker is that if there aren't enough cards to deal out, the dealer either shuffles the set of discarded cards and uses those. Another variation is that a "community card" is dealt if the dealer runs out of cards. Either way, each player can make up a full hand, –  CjS Mar 27 '12 at 14:16
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Given the question, there's two sections of Robert's rules that seem to apply:

From "Draw High" (section 12), #5:

Five cards constitute a playing hand. Less than five cards for a player (other than the button) before action has been taken is a misdeal. If action has been taken, a player with fewer than five cards may draw the number of cards necessary to complete a five-card hand. The button may receive the fifth card even if action has taken place. More or fewer than five cards after the draw constitutes a fouled hand.

and

From General Poker Rules (section 3), Dead Hands 1.d:

Your hand is declared dead if; the hand does not contain the proper number of cards for that particular game (except at stud a hand missing the final card may be ruled live, and at lowball and draw high a hand with too few cards before the draw is live).

From that, I'd say your 4 card hand is dead.

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Basically, it seems like a lot depends on whether or not you are the button. –  Tom Au Mar 29 '12 at 13:33
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Anywhere I've played, a hand with an incorrect number of cards can't win. So, no, your 4 of a kind would be a dead hand.

In some friendly home games, a hand with too few cards would be allowed to play.

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