I fought the law and the law won
Tuesday, 1 January 2013
Are the decisions of the floor always correct? Paul 'Action Jack' Jackson's visit to a northern casino would suggest otherwise.
Last year at a tournament in the north of England, I experienced the fold-out-of-turn rule when I mucked at about the same time as the player to my right, my cards hitting the deck a fraction of a second before his. So technically I was correctly given a two-hand penalty for folding out of turn.
It would be nice, however, if the principal behind this rule was understood by those who enforce it. The reason for having this rule is absolutely not to penalise someone because they accidently fold out of turn (as I did) because there is nothing necessarily wrong with folding out of turn. This is 100% fact and anyone that says otherwise is failing to understand what they think they know.
It is the potential consequences that follow that are the issue, despite what casino staff might try to brainwash the masses into believing so they can maintain easy control over the players. If the player to my right folds and I then instantly fold (from a lower height because the player to my right is a flairy player who float folds his cards helicopter-style) and so both cards hit the table at about the same time, but mine a fraction of a second before his – yes, I have folded out of turn, but there is absolutely zero logical reason that anyone can give as to why that occurrence should justify a penalty.
Now, if a player folds out of turn by getting off his seat mid-hand before his turn to act and so gives information to some but not all players that his hand is being folded, then fair enough. This is disrespectful to the other players, although, to be fair, some novice players may do this completely innocently, unaware they have done wrong. They could be made aware of their error with a respectful warning, I think.
Anyway, I accept my penalty and get up to go to the toilet at which point the dealer tells me I have to be sat at the table to “receive” my penalty. I decline that request and go and see the floor. I am advised that, indeed, players must be sat at the table throughout the penalty so that they can “fully appreciate the enormity of what they have done wrong”.
They are also forbidden from looking at the cards dealt to them that they can’t play. Presumably this is for our own good, lest we are dealt aces and can’t bear the psychological trauma.
Interestingly, the penalty itself actually recreates the exact same “offence” two more times. As you are forced to miss two hands, every player knows that your hand will effectively be folded as soon as the cards are dealt. In terms of the information they are getting, it’s as if you had folded out of turn yourself.
Fortunately for us, the Government does not operate similar logic, and so the penalty for murder does not require the offender to go out and murder another couple of people.
Laurence Gosney and I, with four others, were playing in the highest level dealer’s choice cash game this year at the same venue and Laurence asked the dealer if it was OK for players to Rabbit Hunt as we were all happy to allow it. The dealer was naturally aghast at such an outrageous and revolutionary request. Even though we were all adults (as are all people allowed into UK casinos), we couldn’t be relied upon to cope mentally with folding our cards and then finding out we would have won the pot if we had called, and so it is very kind of the authorities to save us from exposure to this trauma.
I fully appreciate that in a rake-charged cash game or a tournament, where time is an issue, there are other completely valid reasons for forbidding rabbit hunting. Additionally, it’s their casino and they can impose whatever rules they like, and we, as customers, can choose to accept them and play or stay at home. However, as vaguely intelligent people, we were baffled as to why, in a session-charged game where all players were happy with it, we could not be allowed to rabbit hunt.
We accepted, but still wanted to know the logic behind it. Laurence posed the question to the floor in a more eloquent and reasonable way that I likely would have. The initial answer, which seems to be the stock answer to most questions, was “it’s the rules”. Personally, I feel this is not a plus-EV answer from a customer services perspective, unless you are a zookeeper talking to monkeys who are questioning the quality of the nuts you have chosen to throw to them.
The floor eventually came up with the more detailed answer that to see an un-dealt river card was “information” and, as no player had paid for that information, no one was entitled to receive it. I said that this was unreasonable as it’s irrelevant information – information that can’t be used and has no value. The floor immediately spotted a flaw in my argument, countering that if the information had no value then why was it wanted.
So the principle was clearly established that, if the information was not paid for, then it was not entitled to be given.
We soon realised that we were fighting a losing battle against a battle-hardened warrior who, while not offering any sensible reasoning, could avoid directly answering the question with more skill than an MP explaining his expenses claims, and so we let it drop.
I tried to take on board this principal. After all, I had chosen to be there and so it was right and proper to follow the house rules, whether you agree with them or not. It was tricky, though. Later on I made a bet and a player moved all-in. I wanted to know how much the all-in bet was, but this was information – and information I could use – and therefore had value, but there was no way I could think of to actually pay for that information other than prematurely tipping the dealer for telling me. Then I realised I couldn’t do that as it would technically be sinking, and if I called all-in, then all my chips would have to go into the pot and so the dealer would have to give me back the tip mid-hand and thus I would have received useful information free of charge. So I folded.
Things got even worse after that when a waitress came over and asked me if I wanted a cup of tea. She was asking me for information and was completely unprepared to pay for it.
We played another hand of super stud, where you get five cards and select three (throw two away), then put two cards face down and show one (of your choice). Laurence prematurely exposed his "face up" card, before some of the other players had finished selecting which cards to keep. The dealer was horrified and pointed out how wrong this was as it gave Laurence an advantage. I asked him how it was giving Laurence an advantage to expose his card prematurely as I would have thought it was to his disadvantage, if anything.
He explained that if a player exposes his up-card before other players have finished sorting their cards, then those other players must expose the top card of their five, even if this was not the card they would have chosen to expose (I imagine it could also be an issue if it was not one the three cards they intended to keep).
I can see no reason for this rule – and surely it creates the opportunity for someone to angle-shoot – but I didn’t pursue the issue. Had the floor come back to “help us”, it may have caused me to jump off Blackpool Pier.