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When a bet is not a bet

February 20, 2012

Chip Handling and the WBCOOP

First, a big congratulations and THANKS go out to all of the new dealers who passed the fourth official Dealer Training Course (hosted by Your Dealer) at the Toronto Poker League. The membership of the League has successfully grown to over 300+ players, and this success is due in large part to the talented, volunteer Certified Dealers who help the games run smoothly and in a professional manner. The Toronto Poker League is committed to helping its members improve their game and sharpen their tournament poker skills; offering motivated players the opportunity to learn more about the mechanics and rules of the game through dealer training is but one example of how the League strives to achieve this objective.

The Toronto Poker League also recognizes the importance of offering a playing environment that, while risk-free, closely mirrors what players would experience in “real” live tournament play. In this regard, the “pass-the-deal” structure that is often instituted in recreational play is purposely avoided, and the internationally recognized Rules of the Tournament Director’s Association are enforced.

We also continuously strive to keep abreast of current developments with respect to tournament poker rules and procedures, and to educate members on these topics. For example, we recently hosted the inaugural Tournament Director’s Training Course at the Toronto Poker League — please make sure to congratulate the newly certified Assistant Tournament Directors when you see them, and thank them for their efforts and dedication! Furthermore, questions regarding rules or rulings are encouraged and always welcome on game nights, and outside of game nights, members are now free to pose questions to the Tournament Director anytime, via Twitter (@AskTheTD) or Facebook (www.AskTheTD.com).

Chip Handling

Some of the most interesting questions that I get as a Tournament Director come from experienced online players who are making their foray into live tournament play. Questions such as “what is the minimum that I’m allowed to raise here”, or “why can’t I go back to my stack to get more chips to raise”, or “why can’t you tell me how much is in the pot” never arise in online play since all relevant calculations are performed automatically by the software, and the buttons or other input controls generally inform players what wagers are or are not permissible, thereby minimizing the need for oversight by a tournament official.

In contrast, when a player is about to perform an action that would be a contravention of tournament rules in live play, there is no “program” to prevent the player from following through with that action, and the result is that we’ll often see a warning or penalty assessed against that player, often followed by a look of disappointment or confusion.

One of the fundamental principles that govern wagering actions in live play, is that it is the player’s sole responsibility to make his or her intentions clear. If the manner in which a wager is made is ambiguous – that is, it is not 100% clear to the Dealer and everyone else at the table whether the player intends to fold, call or raise – then the player has breached this principle, and the player is at risk of the Dealer or a floorperson interpreting the action in a way that is different from what the player had intended. This point is so important that it is worth repeating:

It is the player’s responsibility to make his or her intentions clear.

For example, in our earlier article on String Bets, we explained that if a player wishes to place a certain number of chips into the pot, whether to bet or raise, the player must do so in a single motion unless the player has verbally declared the amount of the wager before moving any chips forward into the pot.

It also follows that if a player makes certain motions with a stack of chips in hand, and he has not verbally declared the amount of the intended bet or raise before moving any chips forward, the amount of chips that the player intends to wager may be considered to be unclear. The player may then be at the mercy of the Dealer or Tournament Director as to whether the wager will be interpreted as a bet of one chip, or of all of the chips in hand, or something in between. Repeated infractions may also be subject to penalties.

It is common to see players fiddle with their chips while they are contemplating their action, or when they are waiting for the action to come to them. They love to shuffle their chips, twirl them, toss them, stack and re-stack them.

And when it comes to making a wager, rather than cutting out an amount of chips close to their stack before moving chips forward or verbally declaring the amount of their wager in advance, some players will habitually grasp an entire stack of chips with one hand, and move it forward into the centre of the table to cut out a bet for all to see. This type of action can easily be misinterpreted, and in many venues, may be considered an improper betting motion.

We use the term “may” because there is not yet a single, standardized rule used in international play defining what actions constitute a legal wager when a player uses a betting motion that involves carrying a stack of chips forward without immediately releasing all of the chips in a single motion, in the absence of a verbal declaration.

Some venues operate under what is known as the chip release rule, where only chips that are released from the hand so that they hit the table are considered wagered, and any chips remaining in the hand may be returned to a player’s stack. In contrast, other venues operate under a forward motion rule, where any chips that are carried with a forward motion beyond a “betting line” – which may be imaginary or visibly marked on the table – must be committed to the pot. And some venues do not restrict themselves to either rule, ultimately relying on the players to make their intentions absolutely clear.

Chip Release? Forward Motion?? One does not have to go very far to observe the confusion that can arise from potentially inconsistent rulings. For example, at the 2008 World Series of Poker, the floorperson made a ruling that was later justified as being consistent with a chip release rule that supposedly was in effect. And yet, merely two years later at the same tournament, the floorperson ruled that any chips moved towards the center of the table with a forward motion would be committed to the pot.

Difficult to reconcile? Or just an example of a rule in a state of flux?

It does not appear that the World Series of Poker has formally adopted a provision in its tournament rules that would explicitly indicate that the Forward Motion rule (or the Chip Release rule for that matter) is in effect, although the trend seems to be that the Forward Motion rule will be enforced. On the other hand, one should not be surprised if play in other tournaments will instead be governed by the chip release rule.

Some critics argue that players should be allowed to do anything to elicit a reaction from an opponent. On the other hand, others argue that there must be limits on what actions may be permitted, and that at the very least, players are entitled to know whether an opponent’s motion to initiate a bet is genuine and when that opponent’s act of delivering chips into the pot begins and ends.

Until a consensus among rulemakers is reached, players bear the complete risk of being subject to a ruling that does not align with their intentions. It is the player’s sole responsibility to make his or her intentions clear. The easiest way to avoid these situations is to verbalize the amount that you wish to wager in advance of moving chips into the pot, or at least, avoid holding a stack of chips in your hand beyond the immediate area where your chips are stacked if you are not prepared to bet (and lose) that entire stack.

World Blogger Championship of Online Poker

Note: The following is provided for discussion and informational purposes only, and is solely intended for our local Canadian audience. This shall not be construed as an endorsement of the site noted below, nor of gambling, online or otherwise.

Speaking of online players making the transition to live play, if you play online and have a PokerStars account, you might be interested in participating in an annual freeroll tournament series sponsored by this site, namely the “World Blogger Championship of Online Poker” (WBCOOP). The 2012 WBCOOP is a series of events that takes place starting on February 23, and culminates in a championship event on March 4.

A variety of prizes will be awarded at this year’s WBCOOP, including online tournament tickets, Special Edition chip sets, and a handful of cash prizes including a $5,000 cash prize to the Best Blogger of the series. The WBCOOP is a unique concept in online poker, first created in 2005 as a way to recognize the efforts of players, educators, poker enthusiasts, and other contributors who embraced blogging as a means for delivering their poker content to the masses. And with the gaining popularity of other social media such as Facebook or Twitter, it has become that much easier for writers to deliver their messages to their readers.

The WBCOOP freeroll series has undergone a significant expansion this year, from six events to a monstrous thirty events. The 2012 Series now includes tournaments directed to a wide variety of poker disciplines, such as Pot Limit Omaha, Badugi, Eight-Game Mix, Seven Card Stud, Stud Hi/Lo, Triple Stud, Five-Card Draw, Omaha Hi/Lo, HORSE, and of course, everyone’s favourite, No Limit Hold’Em.

(Personally, I would have preferred a series where players were required to play all of a smaller set of different events (e.g. each game in the Eight-Game Mix), rather than a series that is so heavily weighted to No Limit Hold’Em).

In order to qualify for the World Blogger Championship of Online Poker, interested players will first be required to “apply” for entry by writing a blog post (500-word length minimum) that describes what they would do if they won the prize for Best Blogger, and then posting that on a blog that has been active and running for at least two months. Alternatively, for non-bloggers, you can create a short, recorded video (less than one minute in length) instead of a blog post, and share that video with your friends or followers on your chosen social network, such as Twitter or Facebook (in fact, a $1,000 cash prize will also be awarded to the Best Live Tweeter!) Successful applicants will then be issued ten free tickets, for use in any of the thirty events of their choice.

Not interested in entering? Not to worry… feel free to wish me luck and to cheer me on instead! Should I happen to be fortunate enough to win a Special Edition Chip Set, I will be donating it as a door prize at the next holiday game held at the Toronto Poker League. And, if by some sheer stroke of luck I were to win the cash prize for Best Blogger, I will donate an ADDITIONAL $1K 2012 World Series of Poker seat to the Main Event Championship, to be held at the Toronto Poker League in May 2012. As many of your tournament directors will be travelling to and reporting from the World Series of Poker this year, we would certainly welcome the extra company, and we’d love to cheer you on to your first bracelet! A win-win situation indeed!

via http://mypov.ca/


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