Poker TDA releases draft of tournament rule changes

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The Poker TDA (Tournament Directors Association) has released a draft of tournament rule changes agreed on at the most recent Poker TDA Summit, including a new Rule No. 2 that reinforces the responsibilities players have when entering a poker tournament.

“It was probably the most productive and all-encompassing TDA gathering since our first one 12 years ago,” board member Dave Lamb said of this year’s summit, held in June at Venetian Las Vegas. Summits are held every two years. “The membership came better prepared to argue points and to make a case for their views.”

Three new board members were announced – World Series of Poker tournament director Jack Effel, Head of Live Poker Operations for PokerStars Europe Neil Johnson and Borgata Hotel Spa and Casino tournament director Tab Duchateau – giving the organization more global experience and greatly enhancing the discussion of attendees.

New rules

The new Rule No. 2 lists 14 responsibilities players assume in a tournament, concluding with an umbrella statement to “generally contribute to an orderly tournament.” While few of the responsibilities are new, the list, which includes following the action and following proper etiquette, in intended to remind players of what they can do to minimize floor rulings and keep tournaments flowing. Language in other TDA rules was strengthened to remind players of their responsibilities, including a player’s need to defend his or her right to act when skipped by an out of turn action.

The growing popularity of re-entry events and late registration was addressed in a new Rule No. 7, which ensures all players will start with a full stack regardless of when they register. Board member Matt Savage encouraged membership to no longer deal to dead stacks.

The number of players at a final table was clarified with new Rule No. 11, which says final tables are to include the number of players at a full table plus one of the game type, with an obvious exception to heads-up events.

The controversial ruling in the 2012 World Series of Poker main event when Andras Koroknai moved all in and then mucked his hand not realizing that Gaelle Baumann still had cards spurred a passionate debate, a new rule and changes to an existing rule. Part B of Rule No. 13 was added to clarify that a player who mucks his hand thinking he or she has won the pot does so at his or her own risk and may forfeit the pot, but may have any uncalled bet returned, as was the case in the World Series ruling. New Rule No. 14 clarifies that pushing non-tabled, face-down cards forward at showdown doesn’t automatically muck the hand unless the room has a forward motion or mucking line.

New Rule No. 18 states that players no longer in possession of their cards or who mucked face down lose the right to ask to see any other hand.

Believing that keeping players seated at the table improves tournament efficiency, the membership expanded some “player present” rules, the most controversial of which is likely to be a change to Rule No. 29, which now says players must be within reach of their chair before the first card, not the last card, is dealt or the hand is mucked. Rule No. 30 now mandates players to remain at their seat for the duration of the hand or face a possible penalty.

Undercalls, which are becoming more popular in some foreign countries, were addressed in Rules No. 37-38, which state that an undercall is a mandatory full call if facing an opening bet multi-way on any betting round or facing any bet heads-up. Tournament directors are to use their discretion in other situations, but players are asked to wait for clear bet amounts to be announced before acting. Tournament directors also were urged to use “All In” buttons to help reduce player confusion.

Clarifications of existing rules

Language elsewhere in the TDA rules was clarified to address the growing acceptance and use of electronic devices at the tables, giving tournament directors more discretion when balancing tables, how odd chips are awarded, chip race procedures, misdeals, methods of calling and raising, multiple chip betting, penalties, one-player-to-a-hand and proper folding.

“There were several new rules put in place, but there was even more fine-tuning and defining this year than in the past,” said board member Linda Johnson.

When finalized, the new rules will be posted at the Poker TDA website, www.pokertda.com. Videos of discussions at the the summit also are posted on the website.