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Negreanu Rants Over 'First Card' Rule at EPT Barcelona

Daniel Negreanu’s rants in which he takes to video to talk candidly about any and all things poker have been known to be highly entertaining and informative. KidPoker’s views on everything from the misdeeds of Howard Lederer to his own self-awareness through leadership training have kept the poker community greatly enlightened.

Negreanu’s latest rant was not one of his own video blog productions, instead occurring at a live tournament in level 2 of the 10k High Roller at EPT Barcelona. Negreanu fell victim to the controversial “first card off the deck rule” recently implemented by the Tournament Directors Association (TDA).

The way KidPoker tells it at Full Contact Poker, he stood up to stretch his legs and posted his small blind and ante. While standing behind his chair, a buddy from the next table greeted Negreanu, to which KidPoker returned the greeting. Never straying more than a foot from his chair and within arms reach, Negreanu claimed to have been very aware of the rule and knew not to move any further and possibly lose his hand as a result of being away from his seat.

Negreanu admits to looking in the direction of his pal but never leaving his chair as the rule stipulates. Lo and behold, the dealer took his cards and ruled his hand dead for being away from his seat. Negreanu claims to have politely insisted that his hand was live as he had posted the required 100 chip small blind and 25 ante and was right at his chair. The lady dealer saw things differently.

After summoning the floorman, the dealer’s version of whether Negreanu violated the rule was upheld. This angered Negreanu, who felt that the floorman was not too keen on the specifics of the rule, wrongly believing that the situation depends mainly “on whether or not the player was paying attention to the table or not.”

Paying attention to the hand is not actually cited in the rule, which states as follows: “A player must be at his or her seat when the dealer delivers the first card off of the deck in order to have a live hand. Dealers are instructed to muck the hands of players not at their seats immediately after the final card is dealt to the button, or in Stud Games, the final up card is dealt on third street. Players must be at their seats to call time. ‘At your seat’ is defined as being within reach of your chair.”

Negreanu was not paying full attention, but claims to have always have been in reach of his chair. The dealer stated that KidPoker was a foot away from where Negreanu himself told the floorman he was standing. To which Negreanu stated, “Even if I was standing where she said I was standing, my hand should still be live as I could easily reach the chair with my arm.”

Negreanu became irate after losing the ruling, believing that neither the floorman or dealer fully understood the rule that was being enforced. KidPoker’s anger caused him to go on tilt and shove his remaining 21,000 or so into the pot from the button with A-3, losing to the small blind’s pocket 7’s. The five-time gold bracelet winner was steaming as he left the table.

“I allowed myself to let anger consume me and cause me to make a silly decision,” Negreanu wrote, after cooling off some. “I can live with it, but I’m not at all claiming I handled the situation properly.” For the record, Negreanu’s hole cards in the hand ruled dead were K-T off-suit, which actually mattered not to the Team PokerStars pro. “It was just the point,” he added.

Both Negreanu and Jason Mercier have railed against the first card rule ever since it was first implemented. Previously, the rule required players to be at their seats by the time the last card in the hand was dealt. Negreanu believes that changing it to the first card makes players “powerless” and he remains committed that players themselves have more input on rule changes “before the games rules are tampered with further.”

Negreanu further stated quite correctly that “some organization and change was necessary for the game’s growth, …. but there is such a thing as going too far and I believe we’ve done that by failing to allow tournament directors and dealers to be empowered with common sense in certain situations, and always with the focus of what is the most player friendly, fair, common sense solution.”

Seriously, the first card off the deck rule is a terrible one and let’s hope that the TDA will recognize that after this latest brouhaha. The last card off the deck makes much more sense and hopefully this Negreanu incident will shed light on the need to re-change the rule.

The story does have a happy ending, as Negreanu has already discussed the matter with the tournament director “and there are no hard feelings whatsoever.” KidPoker does intend to continue lobbying for the rule to be changed. We haven’t heard the last from Negreanu on the first card off the deck rule.

With regard to the re-entry tournament where Negreanu dumped the 10,000 euro buy-in by angrily shoving his remaining chips, he also has an Ace up his sleeve. “My plan is to re-enter the tournament at some point and make a deep run,” KidPoker said.



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Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.