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I'm going to the casino this weekend after playing a fair bit online and with mates. I wanted to know if there was a gesture to call, just like tapping the table means "check".

You might be thinking "just put in the right amount of chips", but what if you don't have the right change in chips? Is your only option to say "call"?

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TL;DR: Please just say the word "call."

I suspect different house rules might apply here, but in my experience, these are general rules. YMMV. Also, I'm basing this answer on the TDA rules, which is a common but not universal set of rules.

It's acceptable to just put in a single chip to represent a call. If that chip represents more than the bet amount, that's still a call according to TDA rule 45:

45: Oversized Chip Betting

When facing a bet or blind, pushing out a single oversized chip is a call if raise isn’t first declared.

If that single chip represents less than the amount of the bet before you, then that's an undercall and represents a binding full call in most cases. According to rule 39:

39: Binding Declarations / Undercalls in Turn

A: General verbal declarations in turn (such as “Call” or “Raise”) commit a player to the full current action. See Illustration Addendum

B: A player undercalls by declaring or pushing out less than the call amount without first declaring “call”. An undercall is a mandatory full call if made in turn facing 1) any bet heads-up or 2) the opening bet on any round multi-way. In other situations, TD’s discretion applies.

I guess you're opening yourself up to some gray area in the undercall situation, but the ambiguity seems more to protect you as a potential caller when you might have misinterpreted the amount of a raise in front of you.

Either way, please just say the word "call." It makes life simpler for everyone and keeps the game moving. Nobody likes it when one player tries to live in the gray area where the dealer and others have to continually wonder about the action.

  • Not only does nobody like it, it opens the door scenarios that might give a tell. Having strict, rehearsed movements and sayings for the various actions will reduce your physical tells. – corsiKa Sep 23 '15 at 19:55
  • At the casino I play (not-vegas) it is common to put in a chip of the next increment higher than the bet to call. For example, for the $2 blind people would call by putting out a $5 chip which the dealer will make change for before the flop. Even post flop I think people just throw chips in to call. – Dean MacGregor Sep 24 '15 at 1:25
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No, there is no common gesture. There is, however, the "one chip rule": If you are facing a bet, and throw into the pot a single chip worth more than the amount to call, you have called. For example, if the bet facing you is $10, and you throw in a $100 chip, that's a call, and the dealer will make change for you. If you want to raise, you are required to announce the raise before the chip hits the felt.

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First of all, if this is your first visit to a casino for poker or one of the first visits, it's a good idea to check out the specific rules that this casino abides by as things can vary from casino to casino and there's all kinds of little things that might differ from the online rules that you're used.

To answer your question, make it a habit to verbally declare your intentions whenever there could be ambivalence. Firstly, saying your intentions out loud will take precedence over what your action actually was--so if you make a mistake with the chips you've played, your verbalization of intent will override that mistake. Also, it just makes things easier for the dealer, other players at the table, and ultimately yourself to say what it is you're doing and not have to be questioned and try to clarify.

Generally, if you for some reason you don't verbally declare your intentions and it's not clear, the policy for most casinos is: if you put in more than one chip and more than half of what it would take to make a raise, then your intention is to raise and you'll be asked to make it a full raise; if you put in more than the bet but less than 50% of what a raise would be, then it's considered a call. For example, if somebody bets 80 and you put in a 100 chip, that would be a call. If instead, they put in 60 and you put in two 50 chips, that would be considered an attempt to raise [ (100-60) > (50% * 60) ]. Hopefully you'll see why it's better to just state your intentions here--after all, it only take one word.

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    Don't mislead the newbies: it is absolutely not true that a verbal declaration takes precedence over a physical action--whichever came first takes precedence. If you're facing a $10 bet and throw out a $25 chip, if you say "raise" verbally before it hits the felt, that's a raise. But if it hits the felt first, that's a call, and any verbal raise afterward is too late. Only if such actions are simultaneous might one rely on the declaration: for example, if you say call while pushing out a stack that would qualify as a raise, that would probably be ruled a call. – Lee Daniel Crocker Sep 23 '15 at 16:01
  • You're absolutely right. I was talking as if the verbal declaration came first or at the same time which is usually the case. But it's true, if you put chips in first, that takes precedence or else people could take advantage of the situation by changing their mind after the fact. In the times where it's simultaneous, the verbal declaration does win out, though. For example, I've seen where someone faces a $10 bet, throws out two $25 chips and says "Call". Well, they really confused their $25 chips for $5 ones and are allowed to correct it since they verbally said "call". – Dr.DrfbagIII Sep 23 '15 at 16:26

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