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You are the Tournament Director Series 4: You Calling?

This one was posted on the Blondepoker forum by StuartHopkin.

Play is 5 handed.

Under the gun (UTG) limps in.

Small blind (SB) completes the blind.

Big blind (BB) moves all in.

UTG then says to the SB ‘are you calling’, SB immediately replies ‘nope’.

UTG then snap calls with what could be seen to be a mediocre holding and that some might assume he would have passed if it were not for the SB’s answer.

How would you treat this? Collusion? How would you rule?

Matt SavageMatt Savage:
I would penalize the Small Blind Player for one hand or one round (based on the
situation) for essentially exposing his hand with action pending and warn the player asking that his question is a not an acceptable one to lead the player into answering the question.

Thomas KremserThomas Kremser:
This situation is clearly unfair for the All-in player and I generally would give a warning to both players for asking and replying and maybe a penalty depending on the situation.

Jack EffelJack Effel:
This could definitely be construed as collusion. In this case, the UTG player asked the SB if he was calling, and the SB replied making this collusion. If this was both players first offence, I would rule that both UTG and SB receive penalties for collusion at the end of the hand with the caveat that a second offence would earn them both a disqualification from the event and possibly all future WSOP events. Had the SB not replied, I would have simply issued a verbal warning to UTG for a first offence only.
Note: collusion is defined as any agreement among two (2) or more players to engage in illegal or unethical acts against other players.

Nicolas FraioliNicolas Fraioli:
First thing, I will try to figure if the UTG serious or just having fun? Players should not talk about their hands or their move during the tournament. In that case the small blind, by answering UTG, give a major information and we have two players against one, that’s kind of collusion. I would give a 10 minutes penalty to both of the players and would tell them to not talk about their hands or the way they will play their hand or next time I would kill their hands and they will get a 20 minutes penalty.

Dave SimpsonDave Simpson:
Not a case of collusion as the UTG player has not stated his intended action.
However the SB has made a verbal declaration of intent out of turn, a case of incorrect table etiquette and receives a penalty and a reminder if deemed necessary with regards further similar infringements and extended penalties/ disqualification.

Tab DuchateauTab Duchateau:
Although the player had no business asking another player if he was going to call ,there’s no guarantee that the player who said he was going to fold would actually do so. I would allow the UTG player to call. I would also penalize the UTG player after the hand.

The Mob Verdict

The TDs are mostly in agreement that this is collusion but there are some interesting differences of emphasis.

Matt Savage feels that the prime culprit is the SB who by answering the question has given information which helps one player and disadvantages the other.

Dab on the other hand thinks that the questioner in out of order and that as the SB's response it not binding he has not done so much wrong. Nicolas also talks about intent and implies that if the question is not meant seriously there may not be an offence by the UTG player.

We feel that the TDs job is hard enough without being asked to be mind readers. Yes,the question may not be serious and yes the answer may not be true but that is not the point. If someone makes a verbal action in poker it is binding, regardless of tone or expression. Discussing the action during the hand in this way constitutes a serious act of collusion from which the victim is entitled to be protected.

Jack Effel gives a clear and complete answer with which we fully agree. Both players are at fault here and both should be penalised. If it was not their intention to collude or they didn't think what they were doing was wrong, well they'll know better next time; and other players will no longer be disadvantaged by their
actions.

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