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by Lucy Rokach |  Published: Feb 01, 2008


A little while back, Matt Dale of sponsored three poker players (Peter Singleton, Dan Carter, and yours truly) to play in a £1,000 no-limit hold'em supporting event at the Bristol Gala Casino. The event was not well-supported, and of the 51 entrants, the three of us found ourselves at the same table. This was not a very satisfactory situation, but we soldiered on. While we all wore the requisite T-shirts proclaiming our shared allegiance, we had no fiscal interest in each other, but, obviously, Matt had a piece of all of us, though he was not at our table at the beginning.

I can't speak for the others, but I found myself (while not exactly playing "soft" against them) neither bullying nor stealing against them to the extent that I would normally do. I have no reason for this, as I had not exchanged any percentages with either of them, so I'll just chalk it up to team spirit. Strangely, the other players at the table were quite happy with this scenario. Wrongly, as it so happens, they must have assumed we had shares of each other, so that if two of us got involved in a pot, it was obviously a collision of big hands and they had better get out of the way. Naturally, this was to our disadvantage. Just as annoying was the fact that every so often, one or the other of my teammates would show his cards at the end of a hand to prove that nothing underhanded had taken place. In one hand, Peter raised from early position, only to be reraised by Matt from the big blind. Peter passed, showing big slick, and Matt then turned over bullets. I'm sure they would not have shown their hands under normal circumstances, and I was quite angry that they thought they had to justify their actions to the other players.

If this wasn't bad enough, when we got down to three tables, all four of us ended up playing together, with Matt and I sitting next to each other, so that of the nine players, four belonged to the same stable. At this juncture, I asked the tournament manager if he could break our table first, hoping that it would split us up. He refused point-blank. Obviously, he must have had some logical reason for his perversity, but as yet, I cannot fathom it. Perhaps I upset him by asking. Well, he upset me, so when I was the small blind (and had lots of chips), I played very passively against Matt, who was the big blind and had a small amount of chips. I did not pass chips, but neither did I make his life miserable. He, on the other hand, kept showing his big hands every time he raised me after I limped in, just so the other players would know that all was kosher. In the end, I had to tell him to stop showing his cards. If the manager could not be bothered with spliting us up, we certainly shouldn't be concerned about what the other players might think. One dealer suggested that it would be easy to spot collusion, so I asked him how he would know, if I made up the small blind and then passed to my sponsor's big-blind raise, that I was not passing chips. Of course, he had no answer to that.

In the end, I knocked Matt out. As the small blind, I raised with 10-9 suited, he reraised all in, and I called instantly. He had A-J and I got lucky. Was I pot-committed? No, but if I was going to lose some of my chips by gambling, I'd rather lose them to Matt than to anyone else at the table. Was I colluding by trying to pass some of my chips to my sponsor? No, but would I have called against another player? That, I'm not sure about. These days, it seems that many players have shares of other players and a lot of it is not obvious, so it's a little difficult to police, but surely having four out of nine players potentially colluding is a situation that should have been easily remedied.