Negreanu upset at TDA for ignoring player input
The Tournament Directors Association (TDA) met this past weekend for their bi-annual summit at the Sheldon Adelson owned Venetian Resort and Casino in Las Vegas (I’ll leave the issues surrounding the location of the summit for another time) and among the topics discussed were potential rules changes to the game. One of these changes, which on the surface is a seemingly insignificant one, has actually touched-off a mini-firestorm in the poker community, with Daniel Negreanu penning a blog on the topic which was later rebutted by Poker Hall of Famer and TDA founding member Linda Johnson on PokerNews.com.
Before I get into the specifics of what happened let me provide you with a little back-story on the TDA and what they do. According to their website, “The TDA was founded in 2001 by gaming professionals Matt Savage, Linda Johnson, Jan Fisher, and David Lamb. Since inception, the Association has grown to over 1300 members in 39 countries,” and according to their mission statement [bold mine]:
“The mission of the Poker TDA is to adopt basic standards, rules and procedures that will positively impact the Poker Industry. In this process, tournament directors, players and the media are periodically invited to discuss, evaluate and vote on proposed rules.”
The last bit is pretty relevant in the current situation because according to Negreanu players were not invited, and more importantly were not even consulted on the aforementioned rule change that would kill a player’s hand as soon as the first card is dealt if he is not sitting in his chair –the old rule killed a player’s hand when the final card was dealt to the button.
Negreanu’s feelings on the matter, which he posted on his blog, are that the TDA is trying to fix a rule that isn’t broken:
“You don’t change the rules that have been a part of poker for 40 years without complaint. No one has ever complained about this rule. So for them to overstep their boundaries and to create issues that were not present before, that’s a problem. If players had been complaining all over the world then okay, figure out a solution. But no one was doing this.”
And that the TDA wasn’t the right body to make these types of changes without consulting players:
“… No player has ever, ever made an issue out of the last card off the deck rule. So to make a change to something on a whim, without there being a pressing issue is a problem. Especially because they are not polling the players or asking the players what they think of such things… I find that overall the people that are making these decisions are simply not the most educated on the topics that they are ruling on. The players just know way more about it than they do.”
Negreanu ended his blog post with the following list of rules he would like to implement on the TDA:
1. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
2. Only make rule changes based on PLAYER feedback and concerns.
3. Before implementing rule changes, poll the players.
Enter Linda Johnson, who made a valid case for the rule change to PokerNews.com, but one that as a player I would say could be placed at the very bottom of potential issues that may arise at a poker table:
“The first card off the deck rule was made mainly for game integrity,” she explained. “There are a few other reasons as well, but first of all what this rule says is that a player can no longer come behind another player and still have a live hand. It’s happened to all of us. I’ve come up to a table and accidently seen a player’s card and my hand is kept live. It’s been done to me as well. I think there was a big issue the other day with that same problem. So what this does is eliminate that so it’s really good for the game integrity.”
“Another reason it’s good because of favoritism,” she added. “A dealer looks up and sees Phil Ivey coming to the table and may decide to slow it down to get his hand to him on time. Conversely, a dealer may look up and see a guy who doesn’t tip or doesn’t treat them nicely and will speed things up to kill his hand. This takes away any kind of integrity issues from the dealer or the player.”
While I understand the need to protect the players, there is also a good case to be made for a more hands-off approach as well, evidenced by recent rule changes that floundered and were quickly thrown on the scrapheap with the old policies being put back in place, like the “declare your actions at the final table” or the “no talking about your hand rule” from the past two WSOP’s.
A back-and-forth between the two was published on PokerNews, with both Johnson and Negreanu taking shots at one another’s stance and explaining their side of the sotry, which you can read here: http://www.pokernews.com/news/2013/07/daniel-negreanu-and-linda-johnson-debate-recent-rule-changes-15856.htm.
Needless to say, both make compelling cases and this could be one of the cases where nobody is wrong. That being said, there is a definite need for some solidarity in the poker world between players, tournament staff, and the owners of poker sites/card-rooms. As it stands, the balance of power is completely in the hands of ownership and staff, with the players’ only option being to take their business elsewhere if they don’t like a policy. But, if the TDA rules are universal, even that most capitalistic of approaches will be unavailable and players would find themselves at the mercy of the staff’s decisions.
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