All poker dealers are supposed to keep count of what’s in the pot.

Not only does it allow them to calculate the rake (a small fee taken from each pot) instantly — it’s also useful in case there is a dispute or a mistake, and a player says the pot is not right.

That being said, in the vast majority of casinos and poker rooms you cannot ask the dealer to count the pot.

Unless it’s a limit game (if you don’t know the difference between no-limit and limit poker, you can skip to the explanation).

There are a few poker rooms that don’t enforce this rule, and if you’re playing no-limit poker, you may still try and ask the dealer how much is in the pot.

Just don’t expect them to tell you — again, it’s usually not allowed.

Can the dealer tell you how much is in the pot?

In general, the dealer cannot tell you how much is in the pot. The only exception being limit games such as PLO. You can still ask the dealer to “spread the pot” so you can clearly see all the high denomination chips and get an idea of the total amount.

Keep in mind, they can spread the chips — not stack the chips; that would give the players too much information.

And some rooms have a rule where dealers aren’t allowed to spread the pot either, in which case you’ll have to rely on your memory alone.

There are two main reasons dealers are not allowed to tell you how much is in the pot in no-limit games:

  • Poker is a game of observation. Let’s say there’s 500 in the pot, but a player believes it’s only 300 or so. Assuming they are not a complete beginner, that’s going to influence their decision to bet, raise, or fold. And if they make the wrong decision, that’s going to benefit their opponent. So the players who do pay attention and keep track of the pot will have an advantage.
  • It slows down the game. Although it would be as simple as asking a question, imagine doing that every hand, or worse, every betting round. The faster the game, the better for the players (and the business), therefore all casinos and poker rooms discourage anything that may be too time-consuming.

No-limit vs limit poker

In no-limit poker, such as no-limit Hold’em, or NLHE (which is currently the most common poker variant), there is no limit to the amount of chips a player can bet.

So provided the bet is the minimum bet (usually the big blind) or higher, that will be allowed.

So for example, in a $1-$2 NLHE game there may be only $25 in the pot, but a player may still go all in for, say, $700.

Whether that’s sensible or not, that’s a different story. But it is allowed.

Conversely, in limit games, there will be a maximum bet as well.

For instance, in pot-limit games, the maximum you can bet is whatever is in the pot.

In this case, players can ask the dealer how much is in the pot. Some dealers like to stack the pot as well, so it will be easier to see the total amount.

Can you ask the dealer to count someone’s stack?

No. Unless they are all-in, and it’s your turn to act.

That being said, all players have the right to get a rough estimate of someone else’s stack.

This is one of the reasons why “dirty stacks” (stacks of chips with different colors and denominations, or piles of chips that are too messy) are not allowed.

And if a player’s chips are not displayed properly, the dealer will usually ask them to stack the chips up.

Another important rule is to never hide any high denomination chips, and to always put them in front of your stack.

So for example, if you have $1, $5, $25, and $100 chips — $100 chips must be put in front, and must be clearly visible at all times.

Any player who tries to hide their higher chips on purpose can get a penalty, especially if they’ve already been told off by the dealer.

To recap…

In no-limit poker, dealers are not allowed to tell you how much is in the pot.

But chances are you can still ask them to spread the chips, so you can get an idea of the amount.

Just don’t do it every hand — that would slow down the game.

Of course, rules vary from room to room. If you’re not sure, ask the dealer, or a supervisor. There are rooms that don’t enforce this rule, so you never know.

Any comment or questions? Anything that’s not clear? Please hit the button and leave a reply, and I’ll do my best to answer 👇