“The Pants Principle”

“The Pants Principle”

Monday, 8 March 2010

There is an unfortunate dilemma that afflicts all UK casinos when setting rules for poker games – they have to prevent the vagabonds and scumbags from taking advantage, at the expense of other players.

The big problem is that most UK card rooms have lost sight of the reason the rules exist in the first place (normally in such small print you could not possibly read them) and they are only interested in “control”.

Obviously, they would prefer fair play and respect for customers to be upheld; however, if those areas have to suffer in order to maintain control, then so be it. It is usually more than their jobs are worth to even consider deviating from the head office directives, and as long as they can justify their actions and decisions by reference to the rules, then all is good with the world.

The examples I give below are all from different cardrooms but could very easily be from any UK cardroom.

Many cardrooms used to have a rather pathetic objection to the use of mobile phones. There is nothing wrong with using a mobile phone in a card room, period, just as there is nothing wrong with using a motor vehicle on a public road. You could use a motor vehicle on a public road for nefarious purposes and you could use a mobile phone in a cardroom for nefarious purposes, but it makes as much sense to ban one as it does the other.

If a player feels that texting hand details to another is the most effective and least detectable way of cheating they can think of, then it might be a better that they can both be identified and sterilised to prevent propagation for the betterment of the human species.

Fortunately, many card rooms have recently changed their previously stupid view on this issue.

I play in a decent-sized live cash game regularly (in three different casinos) and I have had to negotiate to play outside the casinos rules for “our game” so as to be treated with the minimum level of respect that we in the game are prepared to tolerate, which is a lot greater than most cardroom poker players are forced to endure.

For example, many dealers will not start the dealing process unless the players in the blinds have posted the blinds – maybe they think the player might run off with their stacks!

If you clearly make a mistake by throwing in chip the wrong chip denomination, the bet always stands. I totally understand the reason for this, because there are people who will happily take advantage of that situation, but if you are on a table of honest players with a dealer who is able to exercise reasonable judgement, then this should not be a problem. It’s not an enforceable error in our game because no player would “do a moody” move in this area.

If your cards are taken accidently by a dealer and the cards are “recoverable”, then they should be recovered. A friend of mine played for seven hours recently and was second chip leader on the final table, with 14 big blinds. He moved all-in from UTG+1 with 8-8 and the dealer took his cards. The cards were face down on the table, he was able to specifically name them and they had touched no other mucked cards. He had been using a chip to protect them (only because he was in a seat which happened to be in reach of the dealer) but had moved all-in so had no chip to use.

The cardroom manager was called, during which time another player suddenly announced all-in (knowing the “rules” in the casino). The manager comes across and instantly announced that the “wrongly taken” hand was dead and he had to lose chips equal to the stack of the player who was allowed to move all-in before the manager came and made a ruling. This might comply with the “rules” but is it fair play? Was the interest of the game best served here? Shouldn’t the focus be on fair play rather than a blind application of rules to control the players?

At another well know club, where a player with chips already invested in the pot was facing a bet, the dealers were specifically instructed to refuse to advise the player the amount he was required to call. The dealer would only advise the “total bet” to that player without taking account of the chips already invested. This is OK for an experienced player, but it caused a lot of unnecessary confusion and slowed down the game where less experienced players were involved. I tried very hard to get this rule changed in the interest of the game but was told it was “standard practice around the world” (total bollox!).

“Rabbit hunting” is generally prohibited as it slows the game down (rules that slow the game down are apparently OK, though) or because revealing the cards that would have come might cause some unacceptable psychological disturbance to certain players.

We were playing in “our cash game” and all players were happy to allow each other to rabbit hunt if they wished but the card room manager steadfastly refused to allow it without any logical explanation other than a mysterious “directive from head office”. Nevertheless, we are mature enough to allow rabbit hunting without killing each other or turning the table upside down in a frenzy, and we no longer play in that particular casino.

“Show one, show all” is another blanket bullshit rule. In one casino, in the cash game, you are theoretically able to make a player fold when heads up and then walk around the table and show every single player except the one who was in the pot with you. In the tournaments, the exact opposite applies: if you show one player you have to expose the hand to everyone.

I think a modification is required whereby, if you are heads up in a pot, you should have the right to only show that player your hand, if you wish, although if you show another player not in the hand, when the hand ends, then all other players should have the right to see also.

Another casino, refused to allow a player to use his credit card because he had not signed it. He would be able to come back the next day (after signing it off premises) and use it.

He was a member of the casino, they had a copy of his passport and signing the credit card (with a signature that could not and was not required to be compared to another example signature) and returning the next day was acceptable.

Now, when I asked for the reasoning behind this policy the answer again given was a “head office directive”. The manager applying the policy had no understanding of why the policy existed. The only reason I could guess at was that, perhaps, if a credit card was stolen or cloned, making the “attempted user” wait for 24 hours might allow an adequate time frame for the credit card company to discover and prevent the fraud.

Then I thought that it might be reasonable to presume that an individual involved in credit card fraud might have some idea of the practice for using such cards and might also be capable of writing any random signature (as it is not compared to another when used) on the card to enable them to use it. Perhaps the effectiveness of this policy from a security perspective has not been very well thought out.

So, who are these people in head offices instigating all these stupid regulations which seek to control and restrict and often do not even do that very well, if at all?

This is where I realised that the “Pants Principle” must be coming into play.

Everybody has a limit to their own capabilities and some individuals need to be told what to do in all areas.

For example, the type of person that stands at a pedestrian crossing on a straight road where they can see no vehicles for a mile in both directions, but refuses to cross the road until the green man starts flashing, will never be president of the United States (although I accept that George Bush and Ronald Reagan are strong counter arguments to this).

I imagine most people are familiar with the Peter Principle. This is the theory that an employee in a particular job, who does his job very well, gets promoted to a more difficult job with more responsibility, and, if he does that job very well, will get promoted upwards again and so on, until he effectively reaches the level of his own incompetence – i.e. a job he is unable to do well enough to be promoted further.

In most cases, this is the highest level that most employees can attain. However a new opportunity exists which appears to be in very high usage in large casino group organisations, and this is the “Pants Principle”.

If you can imagine an individual stuck for days in the desert and dehydrated to the point of unconsciousness. Now, provide that individual with a water melon cut in half and allow him to consume it only using his tongue.

If you can picture the depth, the moisture and the voracity of movement of his tongue, that will give you a small indication of how individuals engaged in the “Pants Principle” deal with the bottoms of their immediate superiors in order to progress.

Tags: paul jackson columnist