Blog – Look after your hole cards

Blog – Look after your hole cards

Friday, 27 August 2010

There are many, many ways to bust out of a tournament. Often it's just down to fate and a lack of cards, sometimes it's unlucky and occasionally it's a bone headed, finger in the cookie jar tiltfest. Rarely have I seen an exit as bizarre as the one that occurred at a casino last week and it serves as a salutary lesson to anyone who hasn't yet invested in a card protector.

We were a few hours into a small buy in tournament with stacks nudging into the push or fold territory. The person sat to the right of the dealer did just that, verbally declaring all in he pushed his chips into the middle. So far so clear. At least you'd think so. But for some reason the dealer decided to muck Mr All In's cards before the person sitting to his left had made his decision. Cue heated discussion around the table about what should happen next.

The player didn't muck his hand, the dealer did so it wasn't the player's fault. Technically though his chips had crossed the line and his cards were in the muck so should he be busted out of the tournament? After a brief discussion the Tournament Director came to that conclusion too. The poor bloke had to exit the tournament because of a careless mistake by a daydreaming dealer. Amazingly he took it fairly well and didn't descend into a Hellmuthesque fury. The small £30 buy-in may have had something to do with it but even so it's a pretty shocking way to bust out of a tournament.

I've seen incidents like this in plenty of friendly pub games where the remedy isn't usually a bust out but the player whose cards have been folded whispering what his hand was to a trusted player at the table. This was a proper tournament though and rules are rules. However harsh it may sound, it's a player's own responsibility to look after his cards regardless of the actions of anyone else.

The incident reminded me of another similar bust out, this time in a self dealt tournament at a London club. Once again a player was all in with a player yet to make a decision. While calculating his pot odds and pondering whether to make the call the player yet to act pushed a few stray chips into the main pile in the middle. The all in player thought his opponent was pushing the chips toward him and folding. He subsequently mucked his cards and started dragging the pot only for his opponent, his hole cards still in front of him, to say “I haven't folded”. Once again a heated debate ensued. “You shouldn't have touched the chips in the middle.”, “you shouldn't have mucked your cards as I hadn't folded”. Neither player was trying to shoot an angle and the dispute was settled amicably but the upshot was that because of a misunderstanding the all in player lost the hand and all of his chips. All because he'd folded his cards.

The moral of the story then is look after your cards. Whether it's an old fossil a la Greg Raymer, a rusty old coin or a weighty chess piece (but please no sharks. Humberto Brenes's awful fish is more than enough for the whole poker world) keep close control of your hole cards. They're the only two you'll get so treat them well.

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