You are the Tournament Director: Calling Out Of Turn
Situation: Late Night Poker series X. Five players are left in the final. Vicki Lincoln, who is very short in chips with about two or three big blinds moves all-in under the gun. Jac Arama, who has about twice Vicki’s stack calls. Khoresh, on the button, announces all-in. At this point Khoresh is second in chips by some distance. On the Small Blind is Joe Beevers who has Khoresh covered by a decent amount and on Joe's left in the Big Blind in Padraig Parkinson who has just a little more than Jac.
Before Joe makes his decision Jac calls out of turn and puts all his chips in the pot. Joe looks down and finds pocket Queens. He knows that if he calls and wins he eliminates three players (Vicki, Jac and Khoresh). He further strongly believes Khoresh at best to have AK and that maybe aces or kings could be duplicated in the other hands. He could also have a pair smaller than Queens. Based on all this information he decides to call. Padraig passes. Now the dealer starts to pull the bets into the middle and Joe notices that Jacs cards are now in the middle of the table and that he has chips in front of him. Jac is obviously hoping that players are eliminated here and that he moves up the prize money ladder. Do you allow Jac to now pass or do you insist that his chips stay in the pot, and why?
The Mob Verdict
This is an interesting situation that genuinely happened with a whole host of different opinions. We believe that the standard rule for action out of turn is this:
Action out of turn is binding unless the action is different when it gets to the player that acted out of turn.
Therefore if Jac calls out of turn and there was no raise after his action out of turn he should be forced to call. This is Matt’s exact ruling. Marty gives a similar opinion but doesn’t allow for altered action.
In more and more places Liam’s ruling would be enforced today. That any chips in the pot must stay in the pot and this is quite good as it forces players to pay attention and gets rid of many angles that may be shot at.
Jack’s view is very different in that any action out of turn is not binding and this could be abused by a player. He does however say that he would at least give a penalty which goes quite a way to stopping it happening.
Mel’s ruling here is a little confusing. If Joe has more chips that Jac it shouldn’t really make any difference – only the action should.
The LNP Tournament Director is Thomas Kremser. Thomas says here that if Padraig and I had passed then he would have forced Jac to call. He then says that any call or raise in between would mean that Jac’s action wouldn’t be binding. However he also says that we would take a different view in this circumstance because,
‘…where Vicky and Korosh are all-in and both players don’t have disadvantage due to the fact that Jac can base his decision on the situation, I would make Jac to bet his chips.’
We suppose that the situation could be confused because although Joe was chip leader and Khoresh was second in chips it may have appeared that Joe was raising (even though it made no actual difference). In the final Thomas did allow Jac to take his chips back and pass which is interesting because now, after the event, he says that he would make Jac bet his chips!
A situation like this just goes to show how difficult it can be for a tournament director in a live situation with many influencing factors. Even if there was a universal rule book it would be difficult as certain situations can be interpreted differently.
If there was a universal rule regarding calling out of turn we think that the one we started with is possibly the most fair and the clearest.