A delicate balancing act for sure

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Each month Ante Up asks its poker room manager Jody Russell to interpret one rule from the Tournament Directors Association’s list of rules. This month’s rule has to deal with balancing tables and was so interesting we decided to turn his interpretation into a column.

Remember, if you have any questions regarding TDA rules be sure to email them to editor@anteupmagazine.com.

BALANCING TABLES: In flop and mixed games when balancing tables, players will be moved from the big blind to the worst position, including taking a single big blind when available, even if that means the seat will have the big blind twice.

Worst position is never the small blind. The table from which a player is moved will be as specified by a predetermined procedure. In stud-only games, players will be moved by position (the last seat to open up at the short table is the seat to be filled). Play will halt on any table that is three or more players short.

JODY: Ever been in a tournament and wonder why the tournament director just took the guy next to you to another table, leaving you with the big blind? Now you know.

The way I was taught to run tournaments is to keep the number of players at each table within two players of the table with the most players until there are only four tables. At four tables I balance each table within one player of the table with the most players.

A tournament with tables that are 10-, nine-, nine-, nine- and eight-handed is just fine. If the eight-handed table goes to seven, the tournament diector must then take a player from the 10-handed table and move him to the short table. Now the nine-handed tables have the most players and a seven-handed table will be acceptable. Once there are 10 empty seats the tournament director breaks a table and all of the remaining tables are full again.

The proper procedure for balancing tables is for the tournament director to determine which table has the most players, wait for that table to finish its current hand, and then take the player in the big blind to the short table. It is important for the tournament director to wait for the hand to finish.

If a player goes broke at that table the tournament director may have to select another table from which to move a player. In smaller buy-in tournaments with short levels you’ll see some TD’s taking players from tables while a hand is still in progress so the short table doesn’t lose out on valuable time waiting for the new player. That is fine for smaller tournaments, but shouldn’t occur in tournaments with longer levels.

— Jody Russell is a veteran poker room manager who also runs the Ante Up Poker Room. Email questions to editor@anteupmagazine.com.