A review of the most recent Poker TDA Summit

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The TDA met over the summer and the updated version of tournament rules has been released. One new rule was adopted along with a few significant revisions to existing rules. Several new procedures were adopted and two others were rewritten. There was significantly less disagreement than in prior meetings.

The only new rule is Rule 4: Player Identity. Clothing or other accoutrements must not continuously obscure player identity or become a distraction to the game. House standards will apply in the sole judgment of the TD. This one is self-explanatory. Today, anyone wishing to remain hidden and anonymous is out of line and not welcome.

The rules revisions mostly addressed timeliness of play. With tanking taking too much of the fun out of the game, the TDA nearly unanimously agreed we needed to address this for the health of game and industry. “Players with electronic devices may not delay the game. Chips should be stacked vertically and 20 high when possible so that players and staff may easily determine stack amounts. Bets and raises should be made verbally to avoid confusion and needlessly slow the game. Players should act in a timely manner to maintain a reasonable pace of game.”

The recommended procedures saw the most change with two major revisions and four new procedures.

  • Final tables of nine-handed events will remain nine-handed. This is a great change that allows the last two tables to be balanced and each play five-handed before combining. With the size of the blinds at the late stages of a tournament, having one more player at a table translated to a significant decrease in per-round costs.
  • Stud procedures have been overhauled so that the game is handled like the other forms of poker rather than as a unique game with seemingly opaque and non-sensical rules.

Any player receiving one of their two initial cards face up will receive their third card down and play resumes. They may bring it in when this happens. This used to be a misdeal so as not to violate the card destiny of the correct bring-in card. Play moves on at a better pace in keeping with the theme of this year’s meeting.

Exposed seventh-street cards get replaced. This changes one of the most convoluted rules where a stud player whose last card was exposed had to keep the card and then would choose to be all-in or not, even though they had chips. This revised procedure combines uniformity and simplicity and should be great when needed.

The fourth-street rule no longer applies to seven-card stud. This is the rule that allowed stud players to bet the larger limit when any player made an open pair on the second round (fourth street). Of the various versions of stud, only regular stud allowed this. Again, uniformity was the key.

  • Big-blind ante is universally ante-first and does not reduce when short-handed at final tables. This is the issue that dominated the discussion at our last gathering. The holdouts who clung to the need for the short stacks to be able to have action on all of their chips rather than being able to win only the ante were rightfully convinced the obligation to ante for the other players that already posted an ante for them was important enough to override any considerations of action.
  • All non-all-in bets are to be announced every time and all-in bets are to be announced only upon on request of a player facing action. This easily figures to be the most consequential change as dealers weren’t trained to do this in many casinos. Dealers mistakenly announcing incorrect bet amounts will often leave TDs in a spot where they are explaining accepted action to a player that was paying attention and following rules set by the TDA. If a player is getting a count and then calling based upon a mandated announcement that was significantly wrong, this has much more potential to end poorly than to end well.
  • Randomness as a concept that can be applied in those situations where creativity is needed for a hand to continue. Basically, as all cards in the stub are unseen and unknown, any cards may be used to facilitate the hand and move the game along. The TDA’s absolute demolishing of card destiny is useful but challenging to effectively communicate.

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