A Poker Rule I Believe Needs Changing

April 4, 2016

A Poker Rule I Believe Needs Changing

There is a rule that has become commonplace at major poker tournaments in recent times. It was a rule in place at the recent Irish Open, it’s a GUKPT rule and I believe it is a TDA rule too. It’s a fairly recent rule implementation, I don’t remember it being there back in the day.

It usually involves the 5,000 value chip.

Imagine this scenario. With blinds at 100/200 a player raises to 500 preflop and gets a caller. On the flop he bets 1,100 and is called. On the turn he bets again, 1,600 and is called. On the river he throws a 5,000 chip into the pot and announces ‘three’. The rule at the Irish Open is that this bet goes as three hundred and not three thousand. I am told that even should the player say ‘two and a half’ the bet goes as 250 – even though a player would rarely say ‘two and a half’ when betting 250. In this spot he would usually say ‘two hundred and fifty’ as usual English.

When I first discussed this with Nick O’Hara, an excellent TD and the TD at the Irish Open, he told me that he thought it was a good rule. He says the most important thing when making rulings is consistency, and I totally agree with that. He continues that in order to be consistent the bet either has to always be the lower amount (300) or the higher amount (3000) and to be consistent the ruling must always go the same way. However after some consideration Nick now tells me that he thinks the rule does need revisiting and perhaps a change would be an improvement to the way it is now.

The thing is that, from a players perspective, it makes sense for the bet to be 3000. My limited canvassing of players opinion agrees. I have found it hard to find a player that agrees with the rule the way it is. Dealers don’t like it either. I have seen the situation happen many times where a player announces ‘three’, the calling player throws in three 1000 chips and calls, and the pot is pushed without comment. Talking to dealers they tell me that it was obvious and it would just cause issues if they enforced the ruling or called the floor to do so. In fact it happened four times that I saw in Dublin. Twice it was pulled up and enforced and twice the dealer let it go. It would appear the rule is creating inconsistencies rather than the opposite. I would add that all four times the intended bet was 3000 and not 300. I never saw a player say ‘three’ and mean 300.

Again from a player’s view consider this. How often does a player throw in a 5000 chip announcing ‘three’ and actually mean three hundred and how often does he throw in a 5000 chip announcing ‘three’ and mean 3000? The truth is the first rarely if ever happens, the latter happens frequently. So is the rule creating an unnatural situation? I think it is.

There are other things to consider. One is that the rule creates bad feeling when enforced. Another is that it creates an angleshoot. When I look at rules I like to consider the possible angle shoots both ways. With the rule in place and the situation I outline at the beginning consider the aggressor has a busted draw. On the river when he bets ‘three’ most if not all players, in the context of the pot, would consider the bet three thousand. However if called the aggressor can get away with a ruling and a loss of only 300 chips. If the rule is that the bet always goes as 3000 in this spot the angleshoot doesn’t work. There can also be issues with language and it would be unfair to penalise a player just because his English isn’t very good.

Think of it as if you were playing and you did it. Just imagine you ever wanted to throw in the 5000 chip and bet 300. You would say ‘three hundred’ wouldn’t you? I know I would. If you only wanted to bet 300 you wouldn’t want to risk the bet going as 3000 would you? Betting 300 with a 5000 chip would be odd so you would make it clear.

Good rules rarely need clarification or announcing and repeating again and again. The fact that this rule is constantly broadcast over the microphone and re-iterated just about more than any other rule just goes to show that it doesn’t work and should be changed. It’s a pain.

My preference is to have an ‘in context’ or common sense rule but if they have to rule one exact way or the other then I would opt for the higher amount. I am going to put up a poll on Twitter to get numbers for and against a change back to the way it used to be. There will be two options to vote:

  • It’s a good rule keep it.
  • It’s a bad rule, change it.

Please vote so we can find out @joebeevers