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September 9th, 2010 at 2:12:55 PM permalink
I was playing in a $1/$3 THNL game at Wynn last summer and the following happened. I don't remember the details of the cards but for brevity, it boiled down to this:

A player to my left was contemplating a raise by an older gentleman a couple of seats to my right. They were the only ones in the hand, for this story's sake, only their stacks matter.

Anyway, after thinking for a short while, he goes all-in and pushes his stack forward. His stack is worth about $400 - $500, but the way he's composed it is the issue. IIRC, Wynn's $3 chips are blue, or maybe it's a different denomination, but he had his 2 blacks under a large stack of blue chips. The rest of his stack was $1 whites, $5 reds, and I think a green or two.

I saw that there were two blacks in the stack; after the hand when we were all talking about it, there was no one else that failed to see them. He never "hid" them, they were out in full view the whole hand, but just at the bottom of a stack of blues. But the blues were the closest in contrast to the blacks.

The older gentleman called pretty quickly and lost the hand. When the dealer counted out the winner's chips, the older gentleman called foul, saying that he wouldn't have called if he had seen the blacks. He eventually made good, but he left the table, called the winner all sorts of foul names, and complained. He was an older guy, so the winner was never going to hit him or anything, but the kinds of things the old guy was saying ... it would've been hard for me to hold my tongue or my fists, it was that bad.

So ... fair or foul?

The blacks were at the bottom, but don't we generally keep our larger denom chips at the bottom of the stack? But yeah, it wasn't in highest-to-lowest order, either. But also, it wasn't like the blacks were hidden inside the stack; they were at the bottom. But I can see how the older guy might not have seen them, and it was about half the all-in bet. And, as I said, the black-under-blue, while see-able, definitely didn't jump out.

I can see the old guy's point, and yes, I agree that the old guy should have taken a moment to see the size of the bet. His speed to call, though, indicated he would've called any bet, but I do believe he didn't see the blacks under the blues, and was surprised when they turned up.

The floorman made the right call and the old guy made good. But my question is, is it ever incumbent upon the players to CLEARLY show the blacks? I know you shouldn't "hide" them, but that's not what happened.
Joined: Nov 17, 2009
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September 9th, 2010 at 2:54:11 PM permalink
In tournaments, players are required to keep all their chips, sorted, in plain view. I'm not certain, but I think in live play the same is true. If it is not a rule, it is part of the table etiquette.

In the case you cite, the older gentleman should have asked for a count before calling. It is at his peril to call without an exact count.
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Joined: Nov 14, 2009
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September 9th, 2010 at 2:58:12 PM permalink
As long as the chips aren't hidden I'd say the caller had no right to be mad. It's his responsibility to know what he's calling.

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September 9th, 2010 at 3:01:23 PM permalink
I'm not the best one to ask questions about the fine points of poker rules. That said, I thought there was a rule that you weren't supposed to mix colors at all in a stack of chips in pot limit or no limit poker. In tournaments I've played, the dealers were usually sticklers about that. Usually when I play a cash game it is a limit game, where mixing colors seems to be allowed, because it is always obvious what the bet is if you're paying attention.
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September 9th, 2010 at 3:13:05 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

I'm not the best one to ask questions about the fine points of poker rules. That said, I thought there was a rule that you weren't supposed to mix colors at all in a stack of chips in pot limit or no limit poker. In tournaments I've played, the dealers were usually sticklers about that. Usually when I play a cash game it is a limit game, where mixing colors seems to be allowed, because it is always obvious what the bet is if you're paying attention.

I agree that the chips should be sorted correctly, but that is only worthy of a correction and warning for the first offense. It is the responsibility of the caller to know how much he is calling. Every caller has a right to ask for a count. (In fact, they don't have to wait for an all-in to ask for that information.) The caller chose to not avail himself of that right, and instead decided to go by his own estimation. Similar colors are always a problem, but that is something that he must have been aware of going into the game. He is responsible for his incorrect estimation.
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September 9th, 2010 at 3:15:54 PM permalink
No issue here at all. He called the bet, the chips were on view and he had a chance to count the value before hand, or at least check it.

I bet if he'd won the hand he'd have been very happy by the 'bonus'. In fact, I bet nothing would have been said.

Know the rules, know what your betting, never assume.
"Then you can admire the real gambler, who has neither eaten, slept, thought nor lived, he has so smarted under the scourge of his martingale, so suffered on the rack of his desire for a coup at trente-et-quarante" - Honore de Balzac, 1829
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September 9th, 2010 at 4:18:16 PM permalink
I agree, no issue. With no one behind him he lost nothing by asking for a count. Caveat Emptor.
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September 9th, 2010 at 4:42:07 PM permalink
Level of fault: Old guy (caller) 70%, dealer 20%, bettor 10%

Of course the old guy should have asked for a count, if indeed, as one poster points out, the amount he had to call truly had any influence in his decision (perhaps he would have called ANY bet).

The dealer should have spotted the hard-to-see denomination chips and spread out the bet, announcing the amount whether or not he was asked. I agree that the dealer is not OBLIGATED to do this, but in order to avoid disputes just such as this one, he SHOULD count down ambiguous bets.

The bettor should likewise make the amount of his bets clear, again, not because he is obligated to do so, but because it will avoid confusion and disputes. There is also the possibility of being seen as an "angle shooter", which I for one would prefer to avoid.

I know many would just say "caveat emptor" and place 100% of the blame on the old man, but I think such a cutthroat attitude is what keeps many people away from the game in the first place. Again, it is easier just to head off such disputes before they occur, by the dealer clarifying any ambiguous action if possible, including an inadvertent action where the "burden" might be on a given player to seek such clarification directly.
The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality.---George Bernard Shaw
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September 9th, 2010 at 6:58:36 PM permalink
Yeah, you're supposed to keep the stacks sorted, and need to have your highest value chips in clear view.

It seems like the player did both of these things.

I've never heard a rule to keep the denominations separate, just that the stacks are sorted.

The caller is 100% wrong for calling without asking for a count first.

Often, when a bet like that is made, if the other player hesitates, the dealer will start stacking and counting the bet. This generally happens at low stakes tables. At higher stakes, dealers do a better job of not interrupting.
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Joined: Mar 13, 2010
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September 9th, 2010 at 9:07:44 PM permalink
I think both players are wrong.

First, to whoever said you keep high denom chips at the shouldn't in a poker game where they are in play. High denom chips should always be kept on top of a stack or better yet in front of your other chips where everyone at the table can see them.

A good portion of my mental effort when playing live poker goes into keeping on eye on things like this. Its much more exhausting than online where you can clearly see every stacksize,position,etc. For that reason I am, rightfully, very very annoyed when a playing is interweaving chips, hiding high denoms behide other chips, or doing anything else that makes it difficult for me to estimate their stacksize.

But yes, I'm going to say it. You should always ask for a count.

Unfortunately in almost every poker room there isn't any real consequence for breaking any of the rules like this. In my opinion the dealer should pull forward all the stacks, remove the high denomination chips, return them to the player, announce the bet without the high denom chips, and verbally give the player a warning.

That is if it somehow gets to this point. I'm not going to blame this on the dealer, because this generally isn't seen as their responsibility. However, it should be.

This might not seem like a huge deal, but if you played hundreds of hours of live tournaments and you have to tell some guy to put his yellows out front every 5 minutes because he didn't listen the first hundred times it is.

I know my post is long, but overall I think the staff in poker rooms need to start taking responsibility and enforce the rules. I'm not saying this playing is trying to deceive the other players, but what if he is?

This player is breaking a rule either out of ignorance or malice. Either way the consequences should fall on him and not his opponent.

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