Daniel Negreanu's Poker BlogThe Customer is Always Right
05 Sep 2013
So I was having a really fun time in the early levels of the 10k Euro high roller at EPT Barcelona, despite already spewing off half my stack, leaving me with a still very healthy 22,000 with blinds at 100-200 with a 25 ante.
I stood up from my chair to stretch my legs a little bit, threw in my ante and small blind awaiting the next hand. Obviously since I threw in my chips on my own, I was directly behind my chair. My friend at the table next to me said hello, so I looked over at him and said hello back. I moved maybe 12 inches to the left, still very much in arms reach of my chair. I was actually, in the moment, very conscious of the rule and knew it was important to not walk away from the table as my hand may be killed.
When I turn my attention back to the table the dealer scooped in my cards. I at first politely explained that I was standing right at my chair and my hand is live. The dealer argued that it wasn't. The rule states quite clearly:
32. At Your Seat - A player must be at his or her seat when the dealer delivers the first card off of the deck in order to have a live hand. Dealers are instructed to muck the hands of players not at their seats immediately after the final card is dealt to the button, or in Stud Games, the final up card is dealt on third street. Players must be at their seats to call time. “At your seat” is defined as being within reach of your chair. In case of doubt, Floor decision is final.
Well, this seems pretty self explanatory, but I was the one who threw my ante in, so of course I was in reach of my chair! The dealer claimed I was standing about a foot further back from where I claimed I was standing. Even if I was standing where she said I was standing, my hand should still be live as I could easily reach the chair with my arm.
The floorman wasn't clear on the application of the rule and what was written, saying something to the effect of, "We are told that it should depend on whether or not the player was paying attention to the table or not." I knew immediately that this was clearly not true. The floor man asked the dealer if it was close, and she said it wasn't. However, she wasn't asked, "was he in reach of the chair."
I was sitting in the one seat, and was looking behind me when the cards were dealt. There was zero risk of me seeing an opponents hand, and besides that, I wasn't breaking any rules. Ultimately the floor went with the dealers take, despite the fact that she didn't understand what the rule states.
So from here I lose it a little bit and react in anger. I decide I just don't want to be there anymore so I ship my chips in blind from the button and get called by the small blind. He has 77, I ended up having a decent hand, the Ah 3h. I lost the pot and stormed off. Now, my reaction is silly and I realize this. I allowed myself to let anger consume me and cause me to make a silly decision. I can live with it, but I'm not at all claiming I handled the situation properly. The hand I had mucked was irrelevant to me, it was KT off suit, it was just the point.
It's no secret that I, and the VAST majority of players don't like the first card off the deck rule, but this was the first time it's implementation actually cost me personally. My rage had to do less with the situation then it did the realization that currently the players are powerless. I'm committed to changing that and making sure that the players are heard before the games rules are tampered with further without player input.
I realize that some organization and change was necessary for the games growth. Some of the things people could get away with in the 70's and 80's needed some cleaning up, but there is such a thing as going too far and I believe we've done that by failing to allow tournament directors and dealers to be empowered with common sense in certain situations, and always with the focus of what is the most player friendly, fair, common sense solution. Anything close, should always go to the player, provided it doesn't compromise the integrity of the game.
Here you have a situation where a player and a dealer are arguing over semantics. Arguing over what essentially amounts to 12 inches. Again, as I mentioned previously, even if she was right in where she claimed I was standing, the ruling was still very much incorrect, but for the sake of argument, lets say it mattered. In situations like these, its in the best interest of everyone involved to give the player the benefit of the doubt. That's just good policy and good business. Even in baseball, a game of inches, the tie goes to the runner!
So I'm sitting in my room now writing this and cooling off. My plan is to re-enter the tournament at some point and make a deep run. I've already spoken to the tournament director, a very likable guy, about the situation and there are no hard feelings whatsoever. He made a mistake, but the information he got from the dealer didn't help. End Rant :-)
Daniel Negreanu is the 2004 Card Player Magazine and World Poker Tour Player of the Year. He presents his poker strategies in one-on-one virtual training at pokervt.com and writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column.
Read all of Daniel Negreanu's poker blog and poker articles at Full Contact Poker
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