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Poker TDA Reveals Upcoming Rules Changes

The Poker Tournament Directors Association (TCA) met during the recent World Series of Poker to discuss some potential rules changes, and in the end the TDA adopted several new policies, dealing with everything from entry into tournaments to killing hands for players who are not seated when the cards are dealt.

Not everyone was happy with the process, with the most vocal critic being Daniel Negreanu, who lampooned the TDA for not involving players in the discussion, including a back-and-forth with Linda Johnson. Despite the protests (even Negreanu admits the changes are minor, he was more upset with the process than the result) for the most part the rule changes are fairly innocuous and will likely not cause any type of backlash or problems moving forward.

The two-day summit held on June 26th and 27th saw 160 Tournament Directors from around the world offer their insights and input, and in the end nine new rules were adopted, along with clarifications to 25 existing rules. On August 11th the TDA released version 1.1 of the new rules, in both longform and handout formats.

Here is a look at some of the new rules and changes that might be of interest (where the rule was merely modified I have italicized the changes):

General Concepts

2: Player Responsibilities

Players are expected to verify registration data and seat assignments, protect their hands, make their intentions clear, follow the action, act in turn, defend their right to act, keep cards visible, keep chips correctly stacked, remain at the table with a live hand, speak up if they see a mistake being made, transfer tables promptly, follow one player to a hand, know and comply with the rules, follow proper etiquette, and generally contribute to an orderly tournament.

5: Official Language

The English-only rule will be enforced in the United States during the play of hands. At non-U.S. venues, the house will clearly post and announce acceptable language(s).

Seating, Breaking & Balancing Tables

7: Alternates, Late Registration, & Re-Entries

Alternates, players registering late, and re-entries will be sold full stacks.

10: Balancing Tables

D: In full-table events, play will halt on a table 3 or more players short of the table with the most players. Play will halt on other game formats (ex: 6-handed and turbos) at TDs discretion. Not halting play is not a cause for a misdeal and TDs may elect not to halt play at their discretion. As the event progresses, when manageable & appropriate for the type of game, at TD’s discretion tables will be more tightly balanced.

11: Number of Players at Final Table

Final tables will have the number of players at a full table for the event, plus one more player. (ex: 9-handed events seat 10 at the final table, 8-handed stud seats 9, 6-handed seats 7, etc.). No final table should seat more than 10. This rule does not apply to heads-up events.

Pots / Showdown

13: Tabling Cards & Killing Winning Hand

A: At showdown, a player should put all cards on the table so the dealer and players can read the hand clearly . “All cards” means both hole cards in holdem, all 4 hole cards in Omaha, all 7 cards in 7-stud, etc. Dealers cannot kill a hand that was tabled and obviously the winning hand.

B: If a player does not fully table his cards, then mucks thinking he has won, he does so at his own risk. If the cards are not 100% identifiable and the TD rules that the hand could not clearly be read, the player has no claim to the pot. The TDs decision on whether a hand was sufficiently tabled is final.

14: Live Cards at Showdown

A: If the house does not have a mucking line or forward motion rule at showdown, pushing non-tabled cards forward face down does not automatically kill them; a player may change his mind and table his cards if they remain 100% identifiable. However, the cards are at risk of being killed by the dealer when he pushes them into the muckpile.

B: If a mucking line or forward motion rule is in effect at showdown, house standards apply.

16: Showdown Order

In a non all-in showdown, if cards are not spontaneously tabled, the TD may enforce an order of show. The last aggressive player on the final betting round (final street) must table first. If there was no bet on the final street, then the player who would be first to act in a betting round must table first (i.e. first seat left of the button in flop games, high hand showing in stud, low hand showing in razz, etc.). Except where house policy requires a hand to be tabled during the order of show, a player may elect to muck his hand face down.

18: Asking to See a Hand

Players not still in possession of their cards at showdown, or who have mucked face down without tabling their cards, lose any rights or privileges they may have to ask to see any hand.

19: Awarding Odd Chips

Odd chips will be broken into the smallest denominations possible. In board games with 2 or more high or low hands, the odd chip goes to the first seat left of the button. In high stud, razz, and if there are 2 or more high or low hands in stud/8; the odd chip goes to the high card by suit in the best 5-card hand. In H/L split, the odd chip in the total pot goes to the high side. If identical hands win both high and low (ex: 2 wheels in Omaha/8) the pot will be split as evenly as possible. See Illustration Addendum.

23: Chip Race, Scheduled Color Ups

A: At scheduled color-ups, chips will be raced off, starting in seat 1, with a maximum of one chip awarded to a player. Players cannot be raced out of an event: a player losing his remaining chip(s) in a race will get 1 chip of the lowest denomination still in play.

B: Players must have their chips fully visible and are encouraged to witness the chip race.

C: If after the race, a player still has chips of a removed denomination, they will be exchanged for current denominations only at equal value. Chips of removed denominations that do not fully total at least the smallest denomination still in play will be removed without compensation.

27: Calling for a Clock

Once a reasonable amount of time passes and a clock is called for, a player will be given up to 50 seconds to make a decision. If action is not taken before time expires, there will be a 10-second countdown. If the player has not acted by the end of the countdown, the hand is dead. A tie goes to the player. At TDs discretion, the time allowed under this rule may be reduced.

29: At Your Seat

A player must be at his seat when the first card is dealt on the initial deal or he will have a dead hand. A player not then at his seat is dealt in, he may not look at his cards, and the hand is immediately killed after the initial deal. His blinds and antes are posted and if dealt the bring-in card in a stud-type game he will post the bring-in*. A player must be at his seat to call time. “At your seat” means within reach of your chair. This rule is not intended to condone players being out of their seats while involved in a hand. [*Note: In stud, house rules may require additional card(s) be dealt to the killed hand in certain situations.]

30: At the Table with Action Pending

A player with a live hand must remain at the table if any further betting action remains in the hand. Leaving the table is incompatible with a player’s duty to protect his hand and follow the action, and is subject to penalty.

Dealing Rules

34: Misdeals

B: If a misdeal is declared, the re-deal is an exact re-play: the button does not move, no new players are seated, and limits stay the same. Cards are dealt to players on penalty or who were not at their seats for the original deal, and their hands are killed after the re-deal. The original deal and re-deal count as one hand for a player on penalty, not two.

Play: Bets & Raises

37: Verbal Bet Declarations/ Act in Turn/ Undercalls

A: Players must act in turn. Verbal betting declarations in turn are binding. Chips put in the pot in turn stay in the pot. An undercall (betting less than the current call amount) is a mandatory full call if made facing an opening bet multi-way on any betting round, or facing any bet heads up. In all other situations, TD’s discretion applies. For purposes of this rule, in blind games the posted BB is the opening bet on the first round.

B: Players should wait for clear bet amounts before acting. Ex: A says “raise” (but states no amount), and B and C quickly fold. B and C should wait to act until A’s exact raise amount is clear. All-in buttons can greatly reduce undercall frequency (See Recommended Procedure 1).

38: Action Out of Turn (OOT)

B: A player skipped by OOT action must defend his right to act. If there is reasonable time and the skipped player has not spoken up by the time substantial action (Rule 35) OOT occurs to his

left, the OOT action is binding. The floor will be called to render a decision on how to treat the skipped hand. See Illustration Addendum.

39: Methods of Calling

Standard and acceptable forms of calling include: A) verbally declaring “call”; B) pushing out chips equal to a call; C) silently pushing out an overchip; or D) silently pushing out multiple chips equal to a call under the multiple-chip betting rule (Rule 43). Silently betting chip(s) relatively tiny to the bet (ex: NLHE, blinds 2k-4k. A bets 50k, B then silently puts out a single 1k chip) is non-standard, strongly discouraged, subject to penalty, and will be interpreted at TDs discretion, including being ruled a full call.

40: Methods of Raising

In no-limit or pot-limit, a raise must be made by (A) placing the full amount in the pot in one motion; or (B) verbally declaring the full amount prior to the initial placement of chips into the pot; or (C) verbally declaring “raise” prior to pushing out the exact amount to call into the pot and then completing the action with one additional motion. Under option C, if other than the exact amount to call, but less than a minimum raise is first put out, it will be ruled a minimum raise. It is the player’s responsibility to make his intentions clear.

41: Raises

B: In no-limit and pot limit, an all-in wager of less than a full raise does not reopen the betting to a player who has already acted and is not facing at least a full raise when the action returns to him. In limit, at least 50% of a full raise is required to re-open betting for players who have already acted. See Illustration Addendum.

44: Previous Bet Chips Not Pulled In

If a player faces a raise and has chips in front of him not yet pulled in from a prior bet, those chips (and any change due) may affect whether his betting response to the raise is a call or re-raise. Because several possibilities exist, players are encouraged to verbally declare their bet before putting out new chips on top of chips from a prior bet not yet pulled in.

47: Pot Size & Pot-Limit Bets

Players are entitled to be informed of the pot size in pot-limit only. Dealers will not count the pot in limit and no-limit. Declaring “I bet the pot” is not a valid bet in no-limit but it does bind the player to making a valid bet (at least a minimum bet), and may be subject to penalty. If the player is facing a bet he must make a valid raise.

52: Count of Opponent’s Chip Stack

Players are entitled to a reasonable estimation of opponents’ chip stacks (Rule 24). Players may only request a more precise count if facing an all-in bet. The all-in player is not required to count; if he opts not to, the dealer or floor will count it. Accepted action applies (See Rule 46).

53: Over-Betting Expecting Change

Betting action should not be used to obtain change. Example: The opening bet is 325 to A and he silently puts out 525 (one 500 and one 25), expecting 200 change. This is a raise to 650 under the multiple chip rule. Putting out more than the intended bet can confuse everyone at the table. All chips pushed out silently are at risk of being counted as part of the bet.

54: All-In with Chips Found Behind Later

If A bets all-in and a hidden chip is found behind after a player has called, the TD will determine if the chip behind is part of accepted action or not (Rule 46). If not part of the action, A will not be paid off for the chip(s) if he wins. If A loses he is not saved by the chip(s) and the TD may award the chip(s) to the winning caller.

Etiquette & Penalties

58: Penalties and Disqualification

C: During a penalty, the offender must remain away from the table. Cards are dealt to his seat, his blinds and antes are posted, and the hand is killed after each initial deal. In stud-type games if he is dealt the bring-in card he must post the bring-in.

60: Exposing Cards and Proper Folding

A player who exposes his cards with action pending may incur a penalty, but will not have a dead hand. The penalty will begin at the end of the hand. When folding, cards should be pushed forward low to the table, not deliberately exposed or tossed high (“helicoptered”). See also Rule 57.

*Other rules had small modifications to the wording. For a complete look at all of the changes you can download the Handout version with Red Changes.

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