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Contracts and Poker: Resolving Ambiguity

by Scott J. Burnham |  Published: Jun 07, 2017


With blinds at 100-200, a player says, “Raise – 500.” How much did the player bet? A statement is ambiguous if it has more than one meaning. Law students are all familiar with the notorious case in which a seller who agreed to supply “chicken” delivered stewers to the buyer. The buyer protested that “chicken” meant broilers and sued for breach of contract. As in the chicken case, most problems with ambiguity can be avoided if the parties can spot the ambiguity and cure it before it causes any problems. Thus, the TDA Rules warn the players to make their intentions clear in order to prevent ambiguities from arising. The player in the above example might have said, “Raise – make it 500” or “Raise to 700.” When an ambiguity does arise, then there are various ways to resolve it. One resolution is to establish a presumptive meaning. If that ...

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