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Jonathan Aguiar Upset Over New World Series of Poker Verbal Declaration Policy

Daniel Negreanu Believes Rule Isn't Necessary For Live Streaming Tables


Jonathan AguiarA Twitter tirade broke out on Saturday from Jonathan Aguiar (@JonAguiar) concerning a new World Series of Poker rule that requires players at all live-streamed featured and final tables to verbally declare all of their actions.

Aguiar, who finished third in Friday’s $1,500 pot-limit hold’em finale, was livid after being told that he and his table mates, which included Daniel Negreanu, Tommy Vedes, Bryan Pellegrino and eventual winner Nick Jivkov, were being forced to verbalize all of their bets, checks and folds, for the benefit of those watching the live stream.

The WSOP maintains that the rule was put into place for the good of the game, helping poker grow into more and more households by making it easier to understand and watch.

Aguiar claims that during three-handed play, he and the other players questioned the rule, only to be threatened by a floorman who said he would postpone the event for the evening if the players didn’t comply.

Aguiar spoke to Card Player during the first break of the $1,500 no-limit hold’em event and further clarified his stance on what he believes to be a rule that is not only pointless, but also a detriment to the game and its amateur players.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” Aguiar said. “They’ve implemented a rule without consulting the players, based on the notion that it will somehow make the live coverage more lively and engaging. It isn’t even a matter of announcing the action, because the dealers, the tournament directors and the commentators are all doing that on their own.”

The seven-year pro believes that the WSOP made a quick decision without really thinking about the drawbacks and potential problems that the rule could create.

“It’s not the first time that the WSOP rolled out a new rule or policy without testing it first. Last year, they decided to show our hole cards on the live broadcast, which of course was met with a huge uproar.”

Steve O'DwyerSteve O’Dwyer, who was actually in the commentary booth during the final table broadcast, echoed those sentiments.

“This rule puts amateurs in an incredibly difficult situation,” O’Dwyer said. “They may not be comfortable verbalizing their bets and may give off tells as a result. Then you have to think about those who are deaf, have speech impediments or even suffer from social anxiety disorder. This has the potential to make a lot of people uncomfortable.”

Aguiar, known for always speaking his mind when it comes to issues within the poker community, said he has volunteered his services to the WSOP in the past in an effort to create a series that all players can appreciate.

“I don’t know why they didn’t just ask,” Aguiar said. “Last year, Jimmy Fricke, Isaac Haxton, Christian Harder, myself and a few others offered our time to [Tournament Director] Jack Effel, [Executive Director] Ty Stewart and [Communications Director] Seth Palansky and let them know that we’d be willing to bounce some ideas back and forth. But of course, they just roll out the new rules and policies without giving it a second thought. We’re the ones taking all of the risk here, putting up all the buy-ins, but often, they aren’t considering us at all.”

Daniel Negreanu, who is actually a member of the WSOP Players Advisory Council, said he wasn’t consulted about the rule and doesn’t believe it should be enforced.

“Some players are just very quiet and they’ve been like that for years, so it’s a very hard rule to enforce,” Negreanu said. “I just don’t think it adds anything as far as entertainment value. I mean, is it really so important for the players to say the words, bet, check and raise, because that’s all their going to say. It’s really boring.”

Daniel NegreanuNegreanu finished fifth in the event and says that he was unaware of the policy until a floorman informed the table shortly before the live stream began. The usually talkative Negreanu was actually a bit subdued during play, but that may have been because of his shorter stack and his position at the table.

Aguiar, however, insisted via Twitter that the rule wasn’t enforced until after Negreanu had busted, alleging that perhaps some favoritism was being shown by the WSOP.

A quick sampling of the $1,500 no-limit hold’em field showed that the players were split on the issue. Some believed that Aguiar was making a big deal out of a minor inconvenience, while others were firmly on his side, pointing out that it’s not the players’ job to entertain the public.

WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel declined to comment officially, but did stress that he has yet to issue any penalties to players who have broken the rule. He also added that the rule was not created to make any players uncomfortable or put anyone at a strategic disadvantage, but simply to make the live stream more engaging for the at-home viewer.

Effel said he has not yet decided if he will continue to enforce the rule when the ESPN cameras begin their coverage, but encourages all poker players to do their best to promote the game in a positive light.

For complete coverage of the summer poker festival, check out our WSOP landing page.



over 9 years ago

This is complete BS.....people who pay the entry fees to COMPETE are doing so for themselves and NOT the insist on this BS to better serve the viewers is a sell out and a disservice to ALL players. When an obvious raise has occured there should not be a rule that requires the player to vocalize the obvious......this new rule is assinine and does not reflect well on the policy makers at all.


over 9 years ago

I'm on Aguiars side here. I am a true amateur so new to live poker that I shake at the beginning of a tournament. I NEVER talk during a hand, assuming I ever make a final table I'd end up never being able to chip up.


over 9 years ago

Every year comes one of this BS actions. The should discuss any changes with both party of players, amateurs and pros. It is a big disadvantage to amateur players, i am very sure this will affect their game play. What`s with the guys who doesn`t speak English and sitting on a final/featured table?

The dealer is able to tell the crowd whats going on at the green felt and the graphic overlay displaying the cards and bets tells a story, too.

Michael from Highraker


over 9 years ago

This is a


over 9 years ago

bad rule. There's a reason why some poker players are quiet maybe they stutter when they bluff or have a big hand. But yea i have to agree with Aguiar if the announcers are already telling you if they fold check or bet then why does player have to say it. This will not engage the viewer. Only way to engage the viewer is to have better announcers and a delayed live broadcast showing hole cards.


over 9 years ago

who honestly even cares... caesars owns the wsop, if they want the rule, play by it, if you don't want to don't buy in... players put up the buyins because they want to and because they are money hungry savages. stop crying


over 9 years ago

I agree with X19.


over 9 years ago

Here's a VERY VIABLE counterargument to the WSOP's rationale for requiring verbal declarations...when the home audience (presumably lay people for the most part) sees what they see on the live stream or on television, that paints a picture in their minds of what would be expected of them if they were on the field of play themselves; this goes for ANY sporting event. Granted, there are nuances from event to event and from level to level (i.e.: recreational/amateur vs. world class professionals), but as we experienced poker players all know, YOU DON'T HAVE TO SPEAK A SINGLE WORD AT THE POKER TABLE IF YOU DON'T WANT TO (becauase there isn't a single action in the game that can't be legally committed through a physical motion), AND MANY POKER PLAYERS CHOOSE NOT TO SPEAK AT THE POKER TABLE FOR THE VERY REASONS MENTIONED ABOVE. What does the WSOP think they accomplish by painting a picture that so significantly differs from what someone watching at home would experience were they to take the field of play, themselves.

If you want to enhance viewer experience and understanding of the action, that's fine--calling the action is what announcers are for, be they in a broadcast booth or on public address. "Enhancements to the home viewing experience" that encroach the normal field of play and compromise the integrity of the action aren't enhancements at all because the home viewing experience becomes unfairly distorted as a result.


over 9 years ago

I agree with this rule. I also think that the batter in baseball should announce "swing" and the QB should yell "throw" and of course the boxer must say "punch" to properly let the public know what is happening.


over 9 years ago

Football and baseball are exciting action driven events and easy to watch. Most people are not capable of playing on the professional level so they live vicariously through watching a game on TV.. Watching 9 or so people sitting around a table playing poker is about as exciting as watching grass grow. Also unlike football or baseball where physical talent is a necessity all it takes to play poker is money. The WSOP is trying to sell a product to people and will do what they can to enhance the product. As far as your analogy when I watch football or baseball my senses tell me what the actions on the field are pass,punt, swing or hit. In poker unless there is a declaration a person watching has no idea what is happening. In the end poker is boring to watch and exciting to play.