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Poker has a multitude of rules about how to bet and how the cards should be handled. Following the rules is important, especially in situations that involve the integrity of your hand. Remember, it's easy to lose a pot on a technicality. The other players won't be rooting for you to receive a lenient judgment as they would in blackjack or craps. With that in mind, here are some of the more important rules you'll want to remember.

Your cards must be in sight at all times. Leave them on the table. Don't show them to other players or anyone else. Revealing your face down cards to others before a showdown can be grounds for having your hand declared dead.
Your hand is dead if you or someone else throws all or part of it into the muck (discard pile). This can happen if the dealer incorrectly thinks you're folding. Or it may happen this way: You have a pair of kings in a showdown. The other person tells you he has aces, so you muck the cards in disgust. Then he reveals his hand and you realize he said "eights," not "aces." It's too late. Your hand is dead.
Your hand is dead if you lose control of the cards while revealing them and one or more fall off the table.
If another player's cards touch your cards, then both hands are dead.
Buying chips during a hand is not allowed. You can only play with table stakes, the chips you have available. Running out of chips while competing for a pot is called being all-in. You can still win everything that has been collected to that point, and all the bets calling your last wager, but you will miss any bets raised beyond your limit. That new money will go into a side pot. Remaining players can win both pots, or just the second one if you win the first.
If you win a pot, hold on to the winning cards and leave them face up until the chips are pushed to you. There is no proof that the pot is yours if the hand is mucked before that.

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