A broken game is a poker game which has been stopped at the direction of casino management in order to spread its players around to other poker games of the same stakes. This is frequently done when the player count at a table drops below 6 unless the players express a desire to continue to play shorthanded. This is usually done only when there are enough open seats at other games of the same stakes for these players from this broken game to fill, but it may be done even if that is not the case; in this case, the players from the broken game are placed at the top of the board's wait list for the game of their chosen stakes.

If there are not enough open seats for players from the broken game to fill, the dealer at the broken game will deal each player one upcard, and the highest cards get the open seats, until there are no more seats to give. Ties between high cards are broken by bridge suits.

Players from a broken game can join their new game using special rules, because they are being directed to the new game by management:

  • They do not need to post a blind, in casinos which would normally require a post
  • Often, they may be allowed to wait for the button to pass before joining the game, though this may depend on the player's actions (in some casinos, once a player places their chips on the table when they come from a broken game, they must be dealt in immediately and cannot choose to wait)
  • They must enter their new game with the same size chipstack as they had at their old game, or in some casinos, they may enter a no-limit game with a stack that is capped at the size of the largest current chipstack at the new table (this rule may vary from casino to casino)
  • Because they must enter the new game with their existing chipstack, they may buy in for less than the minimum buy-in, or more than the maximum (if minimums or maximums exist), at the new game.

Note that these rules differ from those used by a player making a voluntary seat change or table change. This is because the player is not making the table change of their own volition.

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