Get It Quietly

Football, bollocks and a bit of poker if you're lucky.

Location: Enfield, London, United Kingdom

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Oh Behave

There's been a lot of talk about behaviour lately, which is good IMO, even if it has been triggered by unsavoury incidents. Poker is a difficult, if not impossible, game to police entirely through rules. There are holes, there are grey areas, there are cracks to slip through.

Unscrupulous players, or "cunts" as they are also known, seek to exploit this. There are more people out there every day who think it's "all part of the game" to deliberately play out of turn, short the pot, dwell up incessantly, ad infinitum ad nauseam. And then there's my particular least favourite, using rules which are in place to protect the innocent to attack the innocent instead.

I know not everyone agrees but I'm with Phillips/Greenstein in that if everyone behaved like this, the game would be totally unplayable. Think about it. The majority of players don't do these things. Out of respect and courtesy for their opponents. Those few who do, usually for minutely small advantages, deserve nothing but scorn and contempt. They have placed themselves outside what is reasonable and respectful, they should be treated as outsiders. Shunned or, if you think they aren't totally unredeemable, told in no uncertain terms what idiots they are making of themselves.

And I don't believe that more rules are the answer. Here's a great example of why not. Some time back in Russell Square, someone dwelled up for 3 minutes and then raised in a cash game, with the nuts of course. There was a big scream-up. In a well-meaning attempt to address this, the cardroom introduced a rule which stated that a player may not raise after thinking for more than 20 seconds.

Now the whole cardroom (tournaments included) was forced to act within 20 seconds if they wanted to reserve all their options. The majority of players did not attempt to invoke this rule out of respect for their opponents. Angle-shooters, however, loved it and would call it in any time they didn't want to be raised (of course not any time at all, just when they didn't want a raise). The rule made the situation far worse for everyone, and was simply more grist to the angle-shooters' mill (is that the right expression ?)

Similarly with this F-Bomb rule in the US. I ought to be pleased because it's the only prediction I made for this WSOP that's come true. But in fact, much more of this and it won't be much more of a World Series Of Poker than a World Series Of Trying To Make Your Opponent Say Fuck.

As I said before, I'm going to try not to bitch about people for their playing ability. I could, and should, have made my point below without the "If Annie Duke was a man" clause. But I will continue to highlight those who act up, cause trouble and generally make a nuisance of themselves at the poker table. We should all do it, for the good of the game.

On a rare visit to the Hendon Mob forum last week, a poster opined "if you don't like discourteous behaviour, play online instead". Is this the poker world we are creating ? Is this what I should do when the game I love is being eroded bit by bit ? I don't think it is. But then again I'm glad it's an option. At least you can play on-line, no chat, no shit to deal with.


Blogger Chilly said...

I couldn't agree more. My brother-in-law is a 19 year old "poker brat" in training. He slow rolls, talks trash and pouts when he loses. I just quit inviting him to my home game after the regulars wanted to bust out his teeth. I am so dreading the day when I have to play with him at a casino.

The answer to the bigger problem I think is for room managers to empower their dealers with common sense and let karma take it from there.

In your example the 20 sec. limit was an unreasonable response. The players should have policed themselves. The manager took one play and let it fundamentaly change the game.

3:48 AM  
Blogger SimonG. said...

Quite clearly a crap decision at Russell Sq, but by no means one of a kind to be made there. There are plenty of examples where you can't call, but you can certainly contemplate a fold or a raise. It's not unreasonable to think for 20 seconds before shovelling it all in. That knee-jerk rule prevented you doing this, so reduced the options for a legit player. It's not unreasonable to think for 20 seconds about how much to raise (or even whether to smooth call) with the mortal nuts either. It's a valid thing to think about and doesn't give anything away as you are having a similar brief thought about folding a marginal hand.
All the crap that's out there usually gets demonstrated 8 tables out in a provincial comp by someone unduly influenced by the Hollywood dwells on the WPT.

Perhaps in the interests of poker, there should be a blanket rule along the lines of "The Management reserve the right to take someone out back and give them a good shoeing if they feel it is for the good of the game - or if the little prick desperately deserves it, whichever comes first."

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didnt see anything wrong with Trumpers actions - you sure youve got the full picture? I'm surprised youre with Paul Phillips on this one. . .


1:53 PM  
Anonymous steven e said...

I used to play alot with Simon Trumper. Trust me, he's got a history of previous as far as this sort of thing is concerned.
It summed it up for me when he made some sort of attempted "defence" of his actions on THM forum.
In it he mentions 3...yes 3 times that he is the number 1 ranked omaha player in europe.
I checked for any traces of irony, there were none.
The fact that so many people on that forum support him, just sums up the way poker/society is going these days

2:35 PM  
Blogger Andy_Ward said...


No, I don't have the full picture at all. Who does, who wasn't there ?

I'm with Phillips when he says, as a general point, that this kind of behaviour would destroy the game if everyone did it, and so those few who do for their own advantage should be ... well I don't know what should be done with them really, but I'm not going to give them a round of applause for how clever they are.


2:56 PM  
Anonymous Peter B said...

The nonsense about the Russell Square ruling was that it showed a fundamental misunderstanding of the way poker works. If you want, bring in a rule that says you have only 20 seconds to act, but bringing in a rule which says that "you can take as long as you like for 2/3 of your possible actions, but only 20 seconds for the other 1/3 of your possible actions" was (and is) laughable.

It's interesting the way the Saint Rumper debate is going. My stance (which has been seen as supporting Simon) was in fact more one of "get real". Big Dave D, Paul Phillips and Don Ceroti seem to be taking the line that there have to be obeyed unwritten rules or you end up with either a rulebook the size of the new EU constitution, or a game that cannot function.

So, you are relying on "gentlemanly" activity when vast sums of money are at stake. Perhaps the closest analogy to this might be golf, where there are indeed unwritten rules that are obeyed.

But I have little faith in the nobleness (nobility?) of the average poker player. I don't expect it any more. And if I had been Greenstein in this situation I would not have protested at the act; nor would I have been fooled by the dwell-up; nor would I have made the call "to expose him".

These things happen in poker all the time. It's a rough world. All that I can do is uphold my own personal standards.

Don Ceroti cites "The Prisoner's Dilemma" as a support for his argument, whereas I feel it is this very dilemma which shows the flaw in his argument. It's all very well to condemn the grass who goes free, and to ask other people to "shun" him, but the guy has still gone free, and you are still doing 10 years.

The whole logical weakness in the anti-Simon line is illustrated by Paul Phillips' view, which was basically that, even if the dwell-up was two minutes, it was still "way too long". Too which Simon can reply. "No it isn't".

What if I say to Phillips after he dwells up for 25 seconds before raising me with the nuts that 25 seconds was "way too long"? Phillips then replies "No it isn't".

What makes Phillips right and Trumper wrong? Presumably, mass opinion. Or, not mass opinion, but the opinions of the most influential and the loudest-shouting.

When a lot of money is at stake you will get angle-shooting. I know that it would be nice if you didn't and everyone agreed what a "reasonable" dwell-up time is, but it ain't going to happen. In that sense, I am arguing from the side of practicability.

Introduce a rule on "bringing the game into disrepute", or bring in a clock that is automatically activated, but you can't rely on the argument: "everyone has to behave like a gentleman or the games become unworkable". Some people will continue to behave like gentlemen, and some people won't. The best thing to do is to know who is who when you sit down at the table, rather than demand that everyone else lives up to your own high standards of probity.


2:59 PM  
Blogger Fred Titmus said...


I have to disagree with your comment on the Mob forum

"Campaign for a rule change, but don't villify the person who highlights the need for that rule change."

I can think of many examples of horrendously poor sportsmanship that have brought about rule changes in sports; Trevor Chappell rolling the ball along the ground when New Zealand needed 6 to win off the final ball is a good example.

Whether it contravened a written rule or not, it was completely out of order, and to fall back on the point that it is 'strictly not against any written rule' absolves all participants of the necessity to behave properly, and would make poker, as Andy and Paul Phillips point out, unworkable.

And as I don't share Andy's belief that "what goes around comes around", Simon's kicking policy appeals more to me than relying on 'karma'!

4:39 PM  

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