You are the Tournament Director Series 4: Does He Get The Extra 1,500 in Chips
On returning from a break at the WPT Marrakech a player informs the dealer that he only has 8,000 in chips and he should have 9,500. He says that he had 1,500 in 25 chips that were coloured up during the break and that he hasn’t been paid for. The dealer calls the floor who tells the player that he will go and get the 1,500 and off he goes.
As soon as he leaves to get them the player with 8,000 moves all in. Eoghan O’Dea asks for a count and then calls the 8,000 but the dealer says he has to put in 9,500 to call. So he puts in the extra 1,500. Eoghan wins the pot and the chips are pushed towards him. The bust player leaves the table. Eoghan asks for the extra 1,500 but a floor then arrives and says that the chip race was done correctly and that the bust player wasn’t due 1,500 more and as a result Eoghan isn’t going to get the extra 1,500. Obviously the bust player is now no longer there to argue for his chips.
How do you rule?
Suppose the situation had been reversed and the other player won the pot, once it was discovered that a color-up error had not occurred, I would have ruled that the extra 1,500 chips be returned to Eoghan granted the other player had not busted out of the tournament on a subsequent hand before that ruling could be made. If the other player played a subsequent hand and had less than 1,500 when this was discovered, I would have awarded Eoghan whatever chips the other player had left and eliminated him from the tournament.
The Mob Verdict
In a cash game when a player sends for more chips they can come into play before they reach the table. The player tells the dealer he is ‘playing behind’, the dealer announces this - along with the amount - to the table and gives the player a ‘playing behind button’ which is put in full view to remind the other players.
Obviously, this would never arise is a tournament, but the floorman and dealer - working in a venue where cash poker was far more common than tournaments - created an unusual problem by deeming a player to have chips that were not in front of him, and more importantly, that he should not have had.
We strongly agree with those TDs who say that the floorman should have held up play while he - quickly - established whether the colour-up had been done correctly. We find it hard to believe that, rather than checking, the floorman had simply gone to get the ‘missing’ chips. But if that is what he said he was doing then the dealer’s actions would have made perfect sense.
If play continues whilst the player’s claim is checked, then there is no satisfactory way to proceed that would not be liable to produce a problem of this nature if he played a pot. Even if he had not got all his chips in the middle, indeed even if he had not entered a pot, the size of his stack could very well have affected the action. For example, a player may have decided whether to enter a pot based on the size of the stack behind him.
Given that play did continue, then perhaps the least problematic, and certainly the simplest thing to do would be to work with the status quo. That is, the player with the disputed chip stack bets with what he has in front of him. But if he lost all his chips during this period then play at the table would certainly have to be held up and if he were entitled to more chips the TD would then be faced with a messy decision on whether he or anyone else should get any of the ‘new’ chips.
One thing that hasn’t been addressed is whether Eoghan having called one amount should have been compelled to call the higher amount. We feel that the dealer should have offered him the option of taking his call back under these circumstances, but that is a minor detail.
In the end the key mistake was in allowing the play to continue, and the problem the TD then had to resolve was just one of the many that might of arisen from that decision: Should Eoghan be awarded the additional 1,500 chips?
Almost all the TDs agree that, since the 1,500 chips should never have been awarded the position should be returned to what they assume it would have been if that hadn’t happened. But how many hands would have to have been played at the table before this would be untenable, and can you ever really be sure what would have happened?
We are very tempted to agree with Thomas that, having awarded the chips, albeit in error, and having then allowed play to continue on that basis, you have to accept that those new chips were irretrievably in play. This would be our default position. However, in this particular case we are inclined to agree with Jack that it is sufficiently clear that the action was not affected, and that mistakes should be rectified where possible. It’s a mess, but on balance, on this occasion, we would apologise to the rightfully aggrieved Mr O’Dea and decline to award him the chips.
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