If player A and B have bet $1000 and C is all in for $500, and then player A folds, does B win the side pot of $1000 instantly or does he have to play it to the end first?

If it's the latter case, and if both A and B fold ("just because they can"), leaving only C in the game, where does the side pot go? Is it refunded between player A and B who have folded?

2 Answers 2


I am a little confused about your described hand action. The fact that you use A, B, and C to denote players implies to me that they're acting in that alphabetical order. If A bets 1000 and B calls 1000, then C calls all-in for 500, there's no reason for A to fold, because he owes no additional money to stay in the hand. Can you please clarify that action?

In general, if there is a side pot (as in this hand, where there would be 500 from each of A and B on the side for a total of 1000), the last player remaining in the hand who is eligible for that side pot will win the side pot. So, if A and B remain in the hand (with C already all-in) and A bets and B folds, A will immediately win the side pot. If B mucks his hand for whatever reason, the side pot would be awarded to A, given that A now has the only live hand that's eligible for the side pot. The hand will then play out between A and C and the best hand between A and C will win the main pot.

Also, to remark on your question title... there is always an eligible winner, and that winner is either the side pot participant who has the best hand at showdown, or it's the player who held the last live side pot-eligible hand.

  • Thanks, it is a bit hard to explain. I'm just dealing with some corner cases in my program here. Technically both players can just throw away their hand, right? I'm trying to sort out the logic for that. But the question is mainly if the side-pot can be won during the hand, before the showdown, and that is answered here.
    – mukunda
    Oct 25, 2015 at 22:55
  • Yeah, you can always fold when it's your turn to act, for better or worse. Most online apps will have a "wait, do you realize you can check here?" kind of message to help keep you from accidentally folding when you don't have to, though. Oct 25, 2015 at 23:00
  • 4
    As far as software is concerned, all actions are in turn, so it's impossible for two players in a side of to both fold. When A folds, the AB side pot is immediately awarded to B before he has any chance to act. That side pot with no eligible winner cannot exist because it is B's money the instant A folds. Oct 26, 2015 at 2:06
  • I was refactoring some code to allow taking side pots during the hand, but then I realized that there's no point, because once there is only one player eligible for a side pot, then it also means that there aren't any more actions that can be done for the hand, since everyone else is all-in or folded for that to be the case.
    – mukunda
    Oct 30, 2015 at 20:35

If player A and B have bet $1000 and C is all in for $500, and then player A folds, then obviously B gets the side pot of $1000, after that hand is over, no matter if C is the ultimate winner or not. On the other hand, if player A and B have bet $1000 and C is all in for $500, then only A or B can fold, because if one of them folds, then automatically the other one is in game against C.

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