What is Table Stakes?
Table Stakes → 1. Table Stakes is the ruling where players may not wager more than they have brought to the table.
Example usage → “In the days before table stakes players would be wagering with items they had not even brought to the table”
“Table stakes” is the name of the ruling in poker that prevents us from wagering more than is currently in our effective stack.
Before the rule came into effect, players with smaller bankrolls were at a disadvantage. A richer player may literally decide to throw his car keys into the pot declaring a raise for the value of his car. Of course, a poorer player might not be able to afford calling such a raise and have no choice but to fold, ceding the pot to the richer player.
With the table stakes rule, a player at the table will always be able to call an all-in bet if he so desires. If the size of the raise is larger than the amount remaining in a player’s stack, he is only required to place what he has in the middle, playing for a smaller pot.
Although this would rarely happen (apart from a really shady home game), remember that your opponent does not have the right to wager more than he currently has with him at the table. If he tries to increase the wager beyond this, remind him of the table stakes rule and that raising additional chips is not a legal option. Of course, this is assuming that we don’t want to take the action – but such practices are not advised since they don’t promote proper bankroll management.