WSOP Adopts New Showdown Rule at TDA Summit

Alex Weldon : June 26th, 2015


The Tournament Directors’ Association (TDA) biennial summit is underway, and already bearing fruit. Matt Savage has just announced on Twitter that World Series of Poker tournament director Jack Effel has agreed to adopt a change in showdown rules which was officially taken up by the TDA at the previous summit in 2013.

The rule in question involves what happens if, at showdown, the player who was supposed to table his cards first opts to muck them instead. Under the previous system, the last player with a live hand was then obligated to show her cards in order to collect the pot. Under the new rule, this is no longer the case – if all other players have folded, the last player with live cards is entitled to the pot without having to show.

The competing interests in this rule are those of the winning player, and those of the rest of the table. The old rule was seen as unfair in that it allowed a bluffing player to avoid showing their hand – for instance, whether they were bluffing with a missed draw, a marginal hand or air – while still benefitting from getting to know what hand their opponent had been calling with. Considering only the two players involved in the hand, the new rule seems considerably more fair.

The counterargument would be that now the rest of the table is put at a disadvantage when the first player mucks. Typically, when a hand gets to showdown, you expect to see at least one of the hands involved, whereas now there may be no information gained at all. That said, in practice the new rule may likely lead to more information being revealed on average, as the first player now has an incentive to show – even if he feels he can’t win – since he needs to do so if he wants to force the caller to show as well.

The new rule will be in effect for the 2016 WSOP, but it’s not clear yet at what point it’s slated to adopted for WSOP Circuit events.

Alex Weldon (@benefactumgames) is a freelance writer, game designer and semipro poker player from Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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