The WSOP Lacks Common Sense
by Dusty Schmidt | Published: Sep 10, '10
I have been fighting a cold the last 2 days which has really sucked. I get colds fairly infrequently these days (maybe 1-2 times a year), but man when I do get them, they are really bad colds. Luckily I don’t have anywhere to be for a week and the World Championship of Online Poker on Poker Stars is running, so I can just be a sick bum laying around all day playing for a bracelet!!! Not a bad gig. So far the series itself has been fairly quiet for me, but I have been playing a ton of tournaments the last 2 days on Poker Stars, most of which are non bracelet events. I did make two final tables this week coming in third for $14,000 and 6th for $1,000 in a small field $55 tournament. I am starting to get the hang of tournaments, but I have a very long way being primarily a cash game pro. I have a lot to learn which actually kinda excites me. Not that I don’t have things to learn as a cash pro, but I’m definitely much closer to the ceiling in cash games than I am in tournaments.
One thing that is nice about playing in the online version of the World Series of Poker is that you can’t be victim of a dumb ruling like you can in the World Series of Poker in Vegas. Being sick and having more time to bum around, I have been reading some of the Cardplayer blogs and noticed this whole Prahlad Friedman controversy. I guess if I’m going to weigh in on that one, I don’t think you can really fault Prahlad. I have been in a similar position at the World Series and things happen so fast and a bunch of men in suits who approach the table make such quick and authoritative decisions that it feels almost pointless getting involved. I think Prahlad realized that and just let those guys do their thing. Obviously anyone with a brain knows he called and knows he should have been out of the tournament, but no matter if Prahlad begged them to eliminate him from the event, the ruling wasn’t going to change.
You see, that is just the problem with the World Series of Poker. It is run (not all of the staff, but unfortunately most of the higher ups) by people who lack basic common sense. I have been to the World Series numerous times, but this past summer was the first time I played most of the Series. I had heard of some of the horror stories of bad rulings, but I needed to see it for myself. And what I walked away with kinda blew my mind. I guess when you see these confident men in suits running one of the biggest events in the world, you just expect that things will be done right. But as I played the series, I realized that the main reason they must wear suits is to over compensate for their lack of basic common sense that most 4th graders have. Let me give you the run down of a few experiences I had or observed while I was there:
1. The Prahlad incident. Seriously? Why on earth would you ever make the ruling that a clock ends at one? Has a clock ever ended at one for any situation in any sport (or pseudo sport like poker) ever? Is it possible that the floor person just wanted to make history in the same way Jim Joyce did (the ump that blew the perfect game call). I mean this HAS to go down as one of the dumbest things ever caught on national television. Amiright? Who could argue that? The entire table knew he called. Prahlad knew he called. And the best argument is one that Daniel pointed out. In poker the clock has no relevance to the game like it does in football or basketball where the clock is everything. What a tournament director with common sense would prioritize is not the clock in the most absolute terms (even though he ended the clock at one which is even more insane) but rather the player’s intent. Prahlad’s intent was to call. So if it’s close at all with respect to the clock, since the clock has basically no relevance in poker the way it does some other sports, you just rule intent and Prahlad’s intent was to call. And anyone with any common sense agrees with this. I don’t think I am going out on a limb in saying that. Sure, maybe the floor person can make mistakes or maybe he got nervous due to the magnitude of the situation. Fine, that stuff happens, but don’t rule so authoritatively then!! Bring on other floor persons and put your collective heads together. The floor person didn’t do that. He ruled like a child who was on the playground who wanted his ball back at all costs. He wanted his stupid ruling to stand at all costs and he wasn’t going to even listen to reason.
2. The infamous “going broke to someone not in the tournament hand.” My friend John Mcclain (who I was backing for the series) neraly went broke to a guy who wasn’t even registered in the tournament. For those who are just reading about this for the first time, my friend John lost a bunch of chips in a $1,500 WSOP event to a guy who registered for some poker tournament in the Rio poker room which is in the casino, and somehow ended up in the convention center at the Rio and sat down at a World Series of Poker event!! He somehow was able to sit down and receive chips from the dealer despite not having the credentials to do so. Then when my friend John nearly went bust to him shortly before they finally caught the error, the floor ruled that John lost his chips “in good faith” to the man NOT in the tournament lol. I told John to tell the floor that he entered the World Series of Poker “in good faith” that he was going to play only against other people who also were playing in the World Series of Poker! After going back and forth for a few days with the head guys of the World Series of Poker, they made a final ruling that John was entitled to nothing! We were asking for a free entry into a similar event since John’s event was essentially ruined by their oversight and poor ruling during the playing of the event, but they told him to pound sand. Again, basic common sense says that no where in any sport can you lost the game to someone not in the event. Can you strike out to a pitcher who came out of the stands? Can you get tackled before the end zone by the mascot? Can your free throw get blocked by a guy running across the floor? I just don’t understand how anyone with any common sense can make a ruling like this.
3. This is small, but was my lone personal experience this year. It does illustrate how the floor people lack common sense though. I was in day 1 of the main event and I was in a pot where I flopped a strong draw of some kind. I wasn’t sure where the action was at in the hand, but I sensed it might be my turn. I looked at the guy to the right of me who had cards in his hand if he had checked. He said “yes, I checked.” The dealer then skipped my turn and the guy to the left of me checked. I then shouted out “Whoa, what are you doing? I never even acted.” The dealer called the floor and the entire table told the floor that I hadn’t acted yet. The floor person asked the dealer what happened and the dealer said, “I thought he said ‘check’ but it turns out he was asking the guy next to him if he had ‘checked’.” The floor then ruled that I had checked! I told the floor guy, “Are you kidding me? The entire table agreed that I didn’t check. Who are you protecting here? I asked if the guy to the right of me checked, I never checked.” The floor person just started walking away and said “Dealer you can carry on dealing.” Now it turns out I ended up winning the pot anyway, so it worked out just fine, but again, why aren’t they using common sense? If everyone says I hadn’t acted yet, then why would you rule against the entire table? What sense does that make. The idea is to get the intent of the players’ actions to most closely reflect your ruling at all times. Sure there may be times where your hands are tied as a floor person and you may have to rule against intent. But for the most part, you just want to get the intent right. And especially don’t rule against intent when the entire table is unanimously in favor of something.
To me, the World Series of Poker would be well served to fire who ever is in charge and bring on Mad Marty Wilson. I played in the Party Poker Big game in London this year and Mad Marty was the director. Marty and I talked about his style of directing tournaments and he said that first and foremost he wants the intent of the player’s actions to stand when at all possible. Marty is HUGE on intent. There were times when he ruled that a person had made a certain bet or check when technically the rules said Marty he should have done otherwise. But Marty would ask the player and everyone else at the table what they thought the player’s intent was and if it was obvious that the player meant to bet $5,000 for example, then he would rule that the player bet $5,000. He wasn’t going to let some stupid technicality get in the way of the spirit of the game and the players’ actions. Marty is a man who has a lot of common sense.
I guess what inspired this blog is not only all of the dumb ass things the WSOP is doing, but also so much of what has gone on in golf and all of their insane rulings lately (I won’t list them because if you are a golfer then you know what I’m talking about and if you aren’t then I’m sure you don’t care anyway). It just pisses me off when people make such powerful rulings on important things just because “a rule is a rule” or whatever stupid logic they use. I just wish more people had the balls as well as the decency (yes, sometimes both are required depending on the magnitude of the situation) to just try and do the right thing based on common sense. Why do people who enforce rules have such an ego about it? Why do they take it so personally? It’s almost like they thrive on these situations where they get to say “a rule is a rule” or “I’m the tournament director here buddy and what I say goes.” It’s like dude, you are not that cool. No one cares. Just use common sense so the rest of us can get what we deserve out of these competitions.