One of the leading associations of poker tournament personnel, the Tournament Directors Association (TDA), has adopted a new ‘first card off the deck’ rule which is now the source of controversy.
The new rule stipulates that the hand of a tournament participant will be dead if they are not at their table when the first card of a hand is dealt. The rule prior to the change was that the hand would only be hand if the player was not at the table by the time that last card on the table was dealt.
It was one of nine rules adopted the PDA at its last summit at the Venetian Resort Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, along with 25 “clarifications” that were made to existing rules. The TDA’s rules have major clout in professional poker, with a number of major events adopting them after they have been agreed to and adopted. This means the ‘first card off the deck’ rule is likely to also be implemented in some events sometime in the near future.
Poker great Daniel Negreanu has been one of the major voices of opposition to the rule change. The five-time WSOP Gold Bracelet winner and two-time World Poker Tour winner said that he believe the change was unnecessary and would not have a positive effect on the game of poker.
“Hearing rumors the TDA has completely lost their mind looking to ‘fix’ things that aren’t broken. Over policing a poker game is silly,” he said. “One rule is designed to just p— off your customers, TDA, and it’s not fixing a current problem we face in poker. I have never ever heard a single person ask for such a change.”
TDA board member and Poker Hall of Famer Linda Johnson responded to Negreanu’s sentiments by saying the new rule would help ensure that future events that adopt the rule are fairer to all players in the game. “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,” she said. “This takes away any kind of integrity issues from the dealer or the player.”
Negreanu hit back, however, putting forward his view that the former rule was never an issue throughout the time it was in place. “You don’t change the rules that have been a part of poker for 40 years without complaint,” he said.
Should it be implemented by all the major tournaments, the ‘first card off the deck rule’ may take time for some players time to get used to, as they would likely be accustomed to the old rules. However, it is expected that after the initial hiccups and potential controversies, it will end up being ‘just another rule’ in the game of poker.