You cannot fold out of turn in poker. By folding out of turn, you may disrupt the hand and you may influence a player’s decision. In some cases, folding out of turn may be acceptable, especially in a friendly game, but repeatedly acting out of turn is against the rules in poker.

As a casino dealer, I’ve seen this many times at the poker table.

I’d say it never caused any major issues or disputes, but I did have to call the floor over a few times.

Acting and folding out of turn is not allowed in poker, but there are situations in which you may be able to discard your hand even when it’s not your turn.

It’s just common sense, really, but have a look at the following paragraph.

You may be able to fold out of turn if…

  • A player takes way too long to act. I remember I was dealing cash game a few years ago, and one of the players was completely drunk. Easy money for everyone else, but this guy was so slow, especially during a hand where he flopped a good hand. Being the dealer, I tried to put pressure on him, but he just kept staring at the board. Eventually, one of the players (a regular who was always very polite and respectful) folded out of turn so he could take a break. Understandable in that case.
  • The player to your right obviously folds. There are situations in which a player may be frustrated with their hand, for example when they’ve been dealt poor hands ten times in a row, and look at their two hole cards and complain. They may do so slowly, and the player who’s supposed to act right after them may as well fold instantly and speed up the game. Not an issue.
  • You get a phone call and you can’t play. Some casinos are strict when it comes to making or receiving phone calls at the poker table. In some rooms, the dealers won’t say anything — in other rooms, it’s like, you either put your phone away or fold your hand. So if you get an unexpected, important phone call, then folding out of turn may be acceptable.
  • You need to leave the table immediately. You don’t want to do this during a big pot, especially if folding out of turn may influence a player’s decision. But hey, occasionally even the most respectful players will need to leave the table for whatever reason, and if they expect other players to tank for a minute or so, then just sitting there and waiting until it’s their turn to act may not be sensible.

You can’t fold out of turn if…

  • You are simply impatient. And if you’re a very impatient person in general, perhaps you shouldn’t be playing poker at all. Yes, the game is supposed to be fast enough, and the dealer must keep the game going. But there are situations where some players are slower (e.g. beginners) and although it’s frustrating, it does not allow anyone to act out of turn, even if they just fold.
  • Your hand is very weak. And you shouldn’t make any gestures that make it obvious you’re about to fold, either. Although technically that’s not folding out of turn, it gives the table information and may result in a penalty if you do it repeatedly. Again, you must be patient to play poker. Any action out of turn, even if subtle, is disrespectful and could easily annoy other players.
  • You get distracted. Meaning: poker is a game of observation. There is no need to focus on the game every single second (and you probably shouldn’t, to be honest), but you do have to pay attention in order to avoid mistakes that are… avoidable. Such as folding out of turn because you forgot to post your big blind, thinking you’re UTG, even though the dealer already told you twice. Occasional mistakes are normal, but try your best to focus on the game when you’re in a hand.

Repeatedly folding out of turn

You almost certainly will get a penalty if you act out of turn too many times. This includes folding out of turn.

The dealer would never call the floor if someone folded out of turn by mistake once (unless it was a big tournament or something like that).

But do it twice or three times and you may risk getting a penalty.

Usually this means having to miss an orbit (round). For instance, you may have to leave the table until the button gets back to a certain player.

Players who repeatedly act out of turn and/or do anything that’s not allowed at the table, in a way that clearly disrupts the game, may be asked to leave the table.

What is considered a fold in poker?

In poker, a player may fold verbally (by saying the word “fold” or “pass”) or by throwing their cards face down toward the middle. A winning hand that touches the muck is a fold unless it was tabled. At the showdown, throwing both your hole cards with only one card face up is considered a fold.

You may fold your hand by:

  • Announcing “fold” or “pass”, even if both your hole cards do not touch the muck
  • Throwing your cards face down toward the middle of the table or the muck
  • (At the showdown) discarding your hand with only one card face up — I’ve seen a player lose a big pot with this mistake
  • Leaving the table during the deal, without saying anything; the dealer will grab your cards and muck them

When you fold your hand, do not “helicopter” the cards — keep them as low as possible so other players cannot see them.

Similarly, make sure not to expose your hand when folding, and try not to comment on your cards unless the hand is over.

For example, don’t say anything like “I had a draw” or “one of them was good”, etc.

Is a fold out of turn still a fold?

Yes. A fold out of turn is still a fold, and the dealer must grab the cards as soon as they can and muck them (put them in the discard pile).

Unless it’s a very friendly table and the players clearly don’t take the game seriously.

Now, if a player says fold, even if out of turn, then their hand is dead and cannot be retrieved in any way.

Any questions? Please leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer 👇