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PokerPenning™ Rules

PokerPenning™ Rules (adapted from AQHA Team Penning Rules, Section IV – 455). PokerRodeo™ advocates the ethical treatment of animals. Please refer to AQHA’s rule 441(c) for specific rules regarding inhumane treatment.

PokerPenning™ Summary

PokerPenning™ challenges a three rider team to cut and pen a randomly selected "hole card cow" plus four other "carded cows", making their best possible five card poker hand in the fastest possible time. Scoring is easily calculated with the push of a button on the PokerRodeo™ Scoring App which may be downloaded for free. The app is easy to use and instantly calculates the team's score by multiplying the value of a team's "hand" by the number of seconds left on the clock. More information on PokerRodeo's scoring mathematics may be viewed here.

  • Requires 28 cows in a herd, carded with PokerRodeo™ cattle cards, 8’s through aces, all suits.
  • All 2’s through 7’s are removed from the deck -- only 8’s through aces for all suits are included in the deck and attached to the cows.
  • Recommended arena size should approximate 100’ x 200’
  • The pen size shall be approximately 24’ x 16’ with a 10’ gate opening and a 16’ wing. The pen entry should be located approximately 25% of the distance from the arena back wall, opposite the cattle but shall not be less than 55’ from the back wall.
  • The foul line shall be approximately 1/3 of the arena length from the cattle end of the arena.
  • Three riders per team.
  • Time may be set at 60/75/90/120 seconds the producer's discretion. All sanctioned PokerRodeo™ events will use a 90 second time allotment for PokerPenning.

PokerPenning™ Hands

PokerPenning™ follows the same hand strength rules as a standard five card poker game, with the Royal Flush being strongest and the High-Card hand being weakest.

Please note that a Royal Flush must be ace through ten, suited (same suit) and, while a straight flush may be any suited consecutive cards, a team may not connect the 8 to the ace. For example, a suited king, ace, 8, 9, 10 is scored as a flush, not a straight flush. A suited 8, 9, 10, J, Q is scored as a straight flush.

Scoring simply multiplies the team's speed by the value of the penned “hand” for a final score. Please read the logic behind PokerRodeo’s™ Scoring System (patents pending).

To qualify, the team must pen five cows, including the designated hole card, clean in the allotted time. One dirty (unintended) cow is allowed past the judge’s foul line but at the time of scoring, only five cows are allowed on the pen side of the foul line. The “hole card” that is announced when time begins must be included in the penned herd to qualify. Time stops and the score is calculated once a total of exactly five cows, including the hole-card cow, are penned clean. A sixth dirty cow is allowed behind the foul line but must be moved to the herd side of the foul line when time is called. In the case that more than six cows pass the foul line at any given time, no-time will be called.

(a) General Rules

  1. A team of three riders must cut from the herd and pen exactly five carded cows, building their best and fastest five card poker hand. The “hole card” cow announced by the judge must be among the five penned, along with four additional “cards” selected at the team’s discretion. The five penned “cards” represent a poker hand. Using the PokerRodeo™ Official Scoring Application, the value of the team’s hand, multiplied by their speed, produces their score. The highest score wins.
  2. The “hole card” is randomly selected by the PokerRodeo™ Official Scoring Application and cannot be re-selected until all cards are called. The official team order for sanctioned events is prepared by the producers and show management using PokerRodeo's Producer's Secretary App before the start of the contest.
  3. All cattle will be settled and bunched on the cattle side of the foul line before the time begins.
  4. There shall be two flagmen, one at the entrance to the pen and one at the start/foul line. The judge must be located at the start/foul line, and may or may not actually flag the contest at his/her discretion. There shall be at least two timekeepers. The first timer shall be the official time and the second timer shall be the back-up time, in the event the first timer misses the time or his scoring app fails.
  5. The line flagman will raise the flag to signal when the arena is ready.
  6. Contestants will be given their “hole card” when the line flagman drops his flag as the nose of the first horse crosses the foul line. Riders are committed once they cross the start line.
  7. Once committed to the cattle, the team is responsible for their animals. It is the team's responsibility, before working the cattle, to pull up and call for a judge's decision if, in their opinion, there is an injured or unusable animal in their numbered cattle. Once the cattle are worked, no excuses are accepted.
  8. If for any reason a team does not participate after the order of go has been drawn, their “hole card” will be drawn and announced in the order the team would have run. The drawn “hole card” will not be used in that set of teams. This will avoid changing the order of go for the other contestants.
  9. Three divisions, all-age youth, all-age amateur and all-age open may be offered. Select Amateur classes may also be offered as a separate class from all-age amateur.
  10. Time limits of 60/75/90/120 may be offered at the producer's discretion, although sanctioned events will always use 90 seconds as the standard for PokerPenning™.

(b) Measurements

  1. To ensure fairness and consistent visibility of the cattle cards, official cards are standardized to PokerRodeo’s copyrighted card design. Cards must be applied to both sides of the animal, high up on its side, with the top near the midline of the animal's back between the shoulder and the hip.
  2. The number of cattle per herd is 28.
  3. The starting and foul line must be designated by markers located on the arena fence, and easily viewed by the line judge and the exhibitors. The foul line shall be between 30 percent and 35 percent of the arena length from the cattle end of the arena, and the foul line shall be determined and advertised as such by the Event Producer.

The foul line may be extended by 5 percent for each 10' beyond 110' in width, to accommodate bigger, wider arenas. The entry gate to the pen shall be situated 25 percent of the distance from the arena back wall, but shall not be less than 55 feet from the arena back wall.

(c) Time

  1. Time limits of 60/75/90/120 may be offered at the producer's discretion, although sanctioned events will always use 90 seconds as the standard for PokerPenning™.
  2. A 30 second warning must be given by the announcer to the team 30 seconds prior to a final time being called.
  3. To call for time, one rider must stand in the gate and raise a hand for the flag. The flag will drop when the nose of the first horse enters the gate and the rider calls for time.
  4. Time continues until exactly five cows are penned with no dirty (unintended) cows on the pen side of the foul line.
  5. At no time may more than six cattle be on the pen side of the foul line, otherwise no-time will be called.
  6. It is the flagger's responsibility to properly identify the value of the team's "hand". The team must keep all five cows in the pen for five seconds or until the flagger calls the value of the hand otherwise no-time will be called. Once the cows leave the pen and the flagger has called the hand, no disputes in hand value will be acknowledged.

(d) Rerun

  1. In the event the 30 second warning is not given, a rerun may be given at the request of the team. If the team requests a rerun, the cattle will be settled and a rerun will immediately be given using the same hole-card and cattle, with a 60 second penalty added to the scoring app prior to starting.
  2. If an animal leaves the arena, either over or through the fence, the team can either be disqualified for unnecessary roughness, or can be given a rerun, depending on the judge's decision. If a rerun is given, it must be given at the end of that set of cattle.
  3. If no fresh cattle are available for reruns, the cattle to be used will be determined by the show management and judge. If more than one rerun is given in any go-round, they will be taken in order of occurrence. If cattle are to be re-used and additional fresh cattle are needed, the used cattle must be mixed with fresh cattle and renumbered. Every attempt must be made to ensure each team works the same number of used and fresh cattle.
  4. In the event missing cards or cattle are discovered within a herd the discovering team must have a rerun at the end of that set of cattle. Times for all other teams within such a miscarded or missing-cattle herd will remain the same.

(e) No Time

No Time will be given:

  1. if an animal is knocked or cut into the pen after time is called
  2. if an animal escapes from the pen, when team is calling for time
  3. if the team calls for time with more than five animals on the pen side of the foul line.
  4. if team exhibits any unnecessary roughness, excessive use of a whip, rope, crop, bat or reins anywhere on the horse.
  5. if more than six (6) head of cattle are across the start/foul line at the same time
  6. if the more or less than five cows are penned (penning exactly five penned cows is required)
  7. if the team's hole card is not included in the five cows penned
  8. if the team does not pen the hole card and four other cows clean in the allotted time.

(f) Disqualification

Disqualification occurs if:

  1. any delay by the contestants to start is observed
  2. contact with cattle by hands, hats, ropes, bats, romal or any other equipment. No hazing with whips, hats or ropes allowed. Romals or reins may be swung or popped on chaps.
  3. unnecessary roughness to cattle or horses or unsportsmanlike conduct
  4. fall of horse and/or rider shall not eliminate the entry; however any attempt by a dismounted rider to work cattle before remounting will result in a disqualification
  5. disqualification of a team member will result in disqualification of the entire team.

(g) Placing/Ties

  1. A team may call for time only after exactly five (5) cows, including the hole card cow, are penned clean, with no dirty cows on the pen side of the foul line. In multiple go-round contests, teams that pen in each go-round will beat teams that fail to pen in a go-round, regardless of the number of cattle penned or time. In a multiple go-round contest, teams must pen to advance. In multiple go-rounds, scores are accumulated to determine placings. In draw contests, the rider with the highest average score in at least two (2) goes will win. In such contests, the same number of goes must be ridden by each competitor.
  2. Time is measured to the thousandth of a second using a multiplier of the value of the “hand” and the number of seconds under the limit a team has left on the clock. The team must have successfully penned their “hand”, including their hole card, with no dirty cows on the pen side of the foul line, to receive a final score. In the unlikely event of a tie score affecting the placings, each team will be allowed to pen one randomly selected “card” in the herd. The fastest time breaks the tie, regardless of the value of the “card”.
  3. A score is awarded to each team member individually to count toward his/hers average. The highest average of the event wins. At the producer’s and event manager’s discretion, awards may be given for First Place, Second Place, Third Place, Fourth Place, and Fifth place or any subset thereof.