Gaming – Tournament Tales: Tournament Rules Part VI

fullHouseAs we come around the far turn in this series covering the Tournament director’s Association [TDA] rules regarding tournament play, I wish to again point out the first sentence of Rule 41 – Accepted Action: “Poker is a game of alert, continuous observation.” On one hand it is unfortunate that all players do not have the commonality of knowledge, ethics or universally understood acceptable behavior so we can dispense with a list of rules. On the other hand, by defining such things the TDA insures a fair and ‘level playing field’ for tournament play.

The “alert, continuous observation” pertains to many, if not most, facets of the game. We have addressed in issues past the advantages an observant player has watching the actions of another. Further in Rule 41 is another reason: “It is the caller’s responsibility to determine the correct amount of an opponent’s bet before calling, regardless what is stated by the dealer or player.” No doubt the experienced tournament player will have witnessed at least one occasion where a player makes a wager, an opponent verbalizes a call and then there is a question regarding the amount of the bet. Another sentence in Rule 41 covers this: “If a caller requests a count but receives incorrect information from the dealer or players, then places that amount into the pot, the caller is assumed to accept the full correct action and is subject to the correct wager and/or all-in amount.”

This responsibility of determining the correct amount of a wager prior to calling or raising in a no-limit game is especially important because Rule 42 states: “Players are entitled to be informed (by the dealer…my parenthesis) of the pot size in pot-limit games only. Dealers will not count the pot in limit and no-limit games.” This rule further states: “Declaring ‘I bet the pot’ is not a valid bet in no-limit but does bind the player to making a bet.” So as you, the good reader can ascertain, it is vitally important to maintain ‘alert, continuous observation’ of the game so to make informed and proper decisions and actions.

A good and proper technique in making one’s intentions unequivocally known is to verbalize one’s intended action. This was addressed in the last issue when it comes to stating the amount of a raise prior to placing chips in the pot. Rule 44 clarifies this recommendation even more: “Players use unofficial betting terms and gestures at their own risk. These may be interpreted to mean other than what a player intended.” There are some regional terms, expressions or gestures which mean something regionally – and it behooves the visiting player to familiarize themselves with same prior to play – but all-in-all for absolute clarity, standard phraseology should be used so to minimize the chances for misinterpretation and the ‘law of unintended consequences’ taking effect.

One last aspect of clarity in communication during a tournament is covered by Rule 46 – Conditional Statements. “Conditional statements regarding future action(s) are non-standard and strongly discouraged; they may be binding and/or subject to penalty at the Tournament Director’s (TD) discretion.” An example of this is a “if – then” statement; “If you bet, then I will raise.” If a player makes this kind of statement they may be held to it whether or not that was the player’s actual intent. It could be viewed as an ‘angle-shoot’ and subject to penalty or a telegraphing of one’s actual intent. In any case, waiting until it is one’s turn to commit to an action, then verbalizing that action in excruciatingly clear terms eliminates any misunderstanding(s) and TD involvement.

In the next and last segment in this series, we’ll look over the tournament rules covering Etiquette and Penalties. We have in this series covered just a few of the rules which needed embellishment in the minds of players, there were many others which do not require explanation. A review of the complete set of TDA rules can be found at the following website:

In the meantime, may all your flops be monsters.

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