Everything You Need to Know About the TDA Rule Changes

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“The revision of the rules is extensive and clarifies gameplay, putting more attention on what the Tournament Director can expect from the player—as well as what the player can expect from the gameplay.” Last week the Poker Tournament Directors Association released the latest draft of the Official TDA Rules, their first revision of the guidelines since 2011, and put them in action during the annual Bay 101 Open in San Jose.

The new set of rules includes both major and minor rule changes that players should be aware of the next time they sit down at the tournament table. While not all tournaments are governed by the TDA, it is an ever-growing number that are abiding by the standardized set—it includes all tournaments run by board members Matt Savage and Jack Effel, Tournament Directors of the World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker respectively. So, if you plan on taking a shot at a major poker title, it’s best to get familiar with the new changes so the next time controversy erupts, as it usually does, you’ll be on the right side of the law.

Keeping it Orderly

Right up front in Rule No.2, the TDA places a near all-encompassing statement that it expects players to keep their head on a swivel and “generally contribute to an orderly tournament.” “if you muck your hand, face down, thinking you’ve won the hand as if everyone else has released their hands and you’re wrong—that’s on you.” So, the players themselves bear some burden of responsibility when it comes to some of the basics: seat assignments, following the action, transferring tables in a timely manner and following proper etiquette. In fact, the TDA lists 14 overall topics that players need to have a general command of.

The next time you late register for a tournament you should get a full stack as Rule No. 7 looks to put to rest the outdated practice of dealing and blinding off dead stacks.

Adding more to the player responsibility idea is Rule No. 13, Section B. This one basically says that if you muck your hand, face down, thinking you’ve won the hand as if everyone else has released their hands and you’re wrong – that’s on you. It’s your responsibility to follow the action and if you don’t realize that there’s still cards in play and your cards are not 100% retrievable by the floor, you’re going to forfeit that pot. So either table that hand face up or be extremely sure that the pot is being pushed to you before you toss that winner to the dealer.

Another modified rule, Rule No. 14, is one to watch out for, as angle shooters and slow rollers might just find occasion to cite this new rule: It states that if the house does not have a betting line or forward motion rule, pushing forward cards at showdown is not an automatic kill and that a player can decide to, assuming they haven’t been mucked by the dealer and are 100% identifiable, retrieve those cards and table them.

So, make sure the action is complete and even call for a verbal if it’s even in question if your villain is mucking that hand–-otherwise he might just grab those cards and put them on their back after you’ve acted out of turn, with a player assuming his push meant a fold.

Showing First

Speaking of acting in turn, Rule No. 16 addresses an oft-debated rule: Who has to show first at showdown. This is now clarified in the latest update by indicating that, on the final street, the last act of aggression must show first but, should there be no betting on the river, then showdown goes in order of action from the dealer. So even if, in NLHE, the action on the turn goes check-bet-call, and the river goes check-check, then first position still tables their hand first.

No more asking to see a hand when you are no longer in it, according to Rule No. 18. Furthermore, Rule No. 24, Section C looks to enforce that your cards, along with your chips, are in plain sight—which means that those who like to pull the whole “double hand cover up” are going to be asked to put their cards out front.

There’s less time to make that tough two-pair river call as Rule No. 27 reduces the time given to players by a full 10 seconds—from a solid minute to 50 seconds. A tie goes to the runner should the clock run out at the same time a decision is made—which hasn’t always been the case:

Then There’s Rule 29

Perhaps the rule that has most people talking is Rule No. 29 which states that players now have to be at their seat at the time the very first card is dealt to the very first player otherwise they have a dead hand, rather than by the time the last card is dealt as it was previously.

It has more than ruffled a few feathers, as previously vlogged about by Daniel Negreanu (see below). It’s a tighter leash for players which the TDA is hoping will speed up the game. Rule No. 30 also keep players in their chair, allowing for penalties to be dished out if they abandon a live hand before it’s their turn to act, making it tough to get a jump on that much-needed restroom break.

Undercalls (betting less that the current call amount) are addressed in Rule No. 37 which states that it turns into a “full call if made facing an opening bet multi-way or on any betting round, or facing heads up.” While Rule No. 38 says that it’s on the player to defend their right to act should the action pass them up. New Rule No. 44 also wants players to speak up: When a player faces a raise to their previous bet that has yet to be pulled in, the player is encouraged to verbally declare “call” or “re-raise” if they plan to continue.

The rules also address issue such as responsibility for counting down chips, all-ins with chips left behind, the discussion of hands at the table and much more. The revision of the rules is extensive and clarifies gameplay, putting more attention on what the Tournament Director can expect from the player—as well as what the player can expect from the gameplay.

To be the smartest player at the table, when it comes to the rules, check out the full version of the most recent TDA rules at the official site of the Tournament Directors Association.

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