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Negreanu Calls Cash-game Ruling One of the Worst Ever

Anyone who has played poker long enough can doubtlessly recount at least a dozen strange rulings made by floor-people; sometimes going in their favor and sometimes going against them. Poker rulings are just one of those things that are hard to make sense of. But perhaps no ruling could ever come close to the one Daniel Negreanu Tweeted about during Day 2c of the 2012 WSOP Main Event, a hand that apparently took place during a cash-game at the Rio.

Daniel Negreanu @RealKidPoker

Re: WSOP cash game ruling. One of the most embarrassingly bad decisions by a floor staff in the history of poker. This is atrociously awful.

If anyone knows which WSOP floor man and supervisor made the worst ruling in poker history, let me know their names.So bad it hurts my tummy

Guy mucks his hand face up. It hits the muck and he has 24 board is all high cards. He then jokes and says “All In” floor rules he is all in

$300 pot guy has $5000 in front of him and was essentially robbed by a horrifyingly awful ruling that breaks my heart. Poor guy geez.

Vanessa Selbst and Brett Richey both added to the conversation, questioning not only the decision, but the player(s) that called the floor and the player who was eventually declared the winner of the hand:

Vanessa Selbst‏ @VanessaSelbst:

@RealKidPoker even worse is the guy who asked the floor to enforce the ruling. 1of most unethical things in a while, which is saying smthing

Brett Richey ‏@BrettRichey

@VanessaSelbst @RealKidPoker apparently a lady in the hand was first to say “his hands live” and then another guy NOT IN THE HAND echoed it.

Apparently David Williams has seen his fair share of bad decisions, as he tweeted:

David Williams‏ @dwpoker

@VanessaSelbst @realkidpoker when it was a question of the floor I would have just picked up my chips and left. Not letting them rob me.

Assuming the details are accurate, and the hand took place as it was outlined above, this seems a clear misinterpretation of the rules, and in fact seems to be the complete opposite of what the rules say. As soon as his hand hits the muck it should be dead.

As one commenter put it, this ruling (used in the opposite way) could allow players to fold their hand face-up, get a read on their opponent, and then declare him or herself all-in if they think they have the best of it, or simply keep their mouth shut if they feel their opponent had them beat!

The strangest part of this ruling is that it goes against every decision, and every rule we have ever been told in poker: Protect your hand, as soon as your hand hits the much it’s dead, etc. But for whatever reason the floor decided that this player was all-in. Imagine if the opponent had then mucked his hand, would the floor have ruled the player with 2/4 the winner? Absolutely not! In this case I 100% agree with Daniel Negreanu and just about every poker player who has heard the story: One of the worst decisions ever made by a floor-person.

Here is the original write-up of the incident from the 2+2 website:

I witnessed one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen while playing cash at the Rio and imo it brought up some interesting rules & ethics considerations. tl;dr alert

Prologue: It’s a very loose 5/10 NLHE cash game at the WSOP that played much higher with double straddles, in-the-dark raises UTG, etc. All players were very deep with the biggest stack around $7k.

Act I: A hand comes up that is initially one of the smallest of the night. On the flop the pot is only ~$300 and all four active players check down a rainbow board of KQxx.

The river is a 10 and the first player to act is the $7k big stack – a nutty Asian guy who speaks in broken English. He stands up and pitches his cards at the muck face up, and we see they’re 4s2s -a hand that can’t even beat the board. After the hand hits the felt in front of the dealer, Asian Guy jokingly announces “All-in”. We roll our eyes at his attempt at humor and the next player to act reaches for chips to take a stab at the pot.

Act II: Suddenly one of the other active players stops the action and tells the dealer that the Asian guy is indeed all-in. We murmur and look at each other, but another active player chimes in, agreeing. Now everyone is chattering, with some players (including me) pointing out that there is absolutely zero chance that the Asian guy’s intention was to move all-in, and others claiming the hand is live and that it doesn’t matter what his intention was.

The dealer shrugs and explains his understanding of the rules: a face-up hand is live even if it hits the muck. Chaos ensues and the Asian guy goes bananas shouting “I muck! I muck hand!” over and over while reenacting the gesture of throwing the cards away. A floorman is called and once the action is recounted he snap-rules that the dealer is correct and that the hand is live. The shouting goes to 11, a sizable crowd gathers, and Asian Guy has a conniption, demanding confirmation from the senior supervisor. But once called, the senior floorman snap-rules that the snap-rule is correct: the hand is live.

So to recap: Asian Guy has moved all-in for $7,000 into a $300 pot with the nut-low face-up on the table and three players yet to act.

Act III: Player 2 fist-pump insta-ships for ~$5k. The final two players curse the Poker Gods that their hands likely aren’t strong enough to win and that stacks aren’t deep enough to profitably overcall, and fold. Player 2 flips up J9 for the second nuts and drags a $10,000 pot. Asian Guy howls into his cell phone for a minute, grabs the remnants of his stack and disappears.

Fini

Was this a good ruling? Should the floor have superseded the letter of the law in favor of the spirit of the game and the man’s obvious intentions?

If you’re the 2nd player to act, what hands do you ship? If you’re the 3rd player to act and the 2nd player ships, with what hands do you call? If you’re the 4th player and both Players 2 & 3 ship, with what hands to you call?

And if you’re Asian Guy, what would be your preferred method of suicide?

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