What is a ‘Miscall’?
In card games, most commonly variants of poker, a ‘miscall’ is a situation where a player incorrectly declares the value of their hand at the showdown. For example, a player who has a straight may incorrectly declare that they have a straight flush. While miscalls are often accidental, they can be used as an attempt to force another player to muck their cards, at which point they can no longer win the pot, even if they were in possession of a superior hand.
It is not against the rules of poker for a player to declare the value of their hand, correctly or incorrectly, before the showdown. However, even in this scenario, many players and casinos will consider it poor etiquette, and the player may even be warned by the casino.
A player who makes a deliberate miscall – to claim they have a superior hand – at the showdown, can induce their opponent into mucking their hand, laying down their cards. Once this is done, that player can no longer win the pot. If the dealer or casino suspects the player who miscalled of having done so deliberately, they may force the player to forfeit their pot.
Deliberate miscalling is a form of angle shooting, whereby players seek to gain an advantage which is generally considered unfair by other poker players. While it is only considered unethical by the rules of poker, players in home games will take such behaviour extremely seriously, and in casinos, the dealer will always make the call, often forcing the player to forfeit the pot, or for repeat offences, to leave the table. Accidental miscalls can also happen, although if no deliberate foul play is suspected, other players and the dealer are likely to be more lenient against such mistakes.