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Weird and Wonderful - Part 1

by Lucy Rokach |  Published: Apr 06, 2005


Definitely weird, but I'm not so sure about the wonderful – local rules, that is. Despite my threats not to attend the Tunica tournament this past January, I got roped in at the last minute. And while there, I came across a couple of rules that were mind-boggling, to say the least.

The tournament ran what were called "ultra-supersatellites." They were well-structured, reasonably slow freezeout events, and although I in fact won my seat into the $10,000 main event through one of them, it almost came to a sad end. However, they don't call me Golden Ovaries for nothing. I had just won a mega three-way pot by hitting one of my only two outs, and because I in the process had eliminated the other two unlucky players, our table was broken up and we were on the move. Nobody said anything, there were no racks in sight and no help at hand, and I had a mountain of chips to carry, as well as my drink. I could have batted my eyelids and pleaded female helplessness, hoping one of those Southern gentlemen would come to the rescue of a damsel in distress, but as much as I envy those women who manipulate the weaker sex into doing everything for them, I have never mastered that fine art. So, I stuffed all of my chips into various pockets and rushed over to my new seat, hot to trot. Needless to say, before I could sit down, I had to empty my pockets, and whilst doing so, all the action stopped, and all eyes turned to me. I was standing there thinking, wow, they've never seen so many chips, and that's why they're gaping in silent awe. But no, those Southern gentlemen had smelled blood! I had committed a cardinal sin, and the floorman was called to make a ruling; chips are not to be pocketed under any circumstances. A nice floorman came over to ask if I had indeed pocketed the chips. When I told him, "Yes, all of them," he looked at me in total disbelief and shook his head (at this point, I was definitely batting both eyelids, trying to look as if tears were imminent and pleading ignorance, all at the same time). It must have worked, because off he went to get a further ruling from higher up the chain of command. It looked like I was going to be on the next flight home, but I've already told you the end of the story; compassion or common sense prevailed, and I escaped with just a slap on the wrist. So, a chastened and demure Golden Ovaries sat back down and proceeded to wreak vengeance on the particular individual who had tried to take advantage of the local rule.

Another arcane rule did not involve me, and inasmuch as I heard the story secondhand, I can't give a blow-by-blow account, but I still think it should be noted. In the corner of the cardroom, a massive game was taking place and, needless to say, the area was cordoned off, with a security man standing guard. A huge pot developed between Todd Brunson and another player, with the upshot of it being that the dealer split the pot and then proceeded to start dealing the next hand. It was at this point that Todd suddenly realised that he should have won both halves of the pot. Luckily, it was all on camera, and yes, Todd had won it all. But unfortunately for him, the local rule is that if the dealer has started to deal a new hand, it is too late, irrespective of the rights and wrongs. So, Mr. Brunson failed to recover the other half of the pot – a small matter of about $125,000! Needless to say, Todd was not a happy bunny. I can understand that if time has elapsed, it can be very difficult to undo a wrong, as the beneficiary will have had time to either lose that money or quit the game, but in cases in which the mistake is noticed almost immediately, I think there is no excuse for not rectifying the error.

Now I am of the belief that at major poker festivals, where numerous foreigners and Internet novices attend, there is a lot to be said for making daily public announcements about important unusual local rules. It is quite distasteful to see local sharks using obscure technicalities to wrong-foot their visiting opponents. Some of you may say that it is up to each poker player to know what the local rules are, but most of the time (especially abroad), the rules are neither easily accessible nor written down. And, in fact, rules can be quite flexible depending on whether locals are involved or not! But from the host cardroom's viewpoint, why upset your visitors and have them vowing never to return? Certainly in the London Victoria, for example, Cardroom Manager Jeff Leigh is to be commended for always making a pre-tournament announcement regarding the do's and don'ts of the Vic. That's very fair, and how it should be.

To be continued …

Lucy "Golden Ovaries" Rokach has long been one of the most successful tournament players in Europe, with 14 major European titles to her name in the last five years alone. She hails from the Midlands in the UK, but can usually be found on the European tournament trail.