Author Topic: Dealer pushes pot to wrong player in all-in situation, mistake discovered  (Read 25194 times)

K-Lo

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Hi everyone!  I am hoping you can help me out with a ruling that was made today.  Actually, I'm pretty certain that the ruling is correct for a number of reasons, but it would be nice to have some other opinions on how the Rules (RROP, TDA or otherwise) actually support it.

As a bit of background, this is not a casino; it is a "bar" league that plays by the TDA Rules.  There are dedicated dealers at each table who also play, but most of them are of course not "professionals" and so part of our job as TDs is also to train.  Correcting dealer mistakes is quite common, as you can imagine.

With that in mind, here's the gist of situation:

1.  Player A and Player B get all-in on the flop.  Player A shows QQ, Player B shows KJ, Flop is KQ9, giving player A trip Queens, and player B top pair.
2.  By the end of the deal, Board is dealt out KQ9xT.  
3.  Dealer announce "trip Queens", pushes up the KQT cards from the board.
4.  Dealer make an action to "scoop" the cards and board together, to make way for the pot which is clearly pushed in Player A's direction.
5.  At this point, Player C, who is not in the hand, asks the dealer to check the board again and reconsider his decision.
6.  Now, I am waved over to the table.  The Dealer is spreading out the cards and the board back to its original positions as they were during the all-in.
7.  The Dealer and I are looking at the Board, and see that Player B actually has the best hand with a straight to the King.  There is no dispute that the hands of the board and of the players are correct.  I notice that none of the board cards or players cards have been mixed with the muck.
8.  I award the pot to Player B.  Player A is upset.  I explain that although the dealer did make an error, "cards speak" and the Player's B duly tabled hand will win the pot despite the dealer's initial miscall.

Player A comes to me to afterwards to "discuss" the ruling.  In my explanation, I note that it is in the interest of fairness that the winning hand always be awarded the pot where possible, and that players shouldn't expect to "win" with a second-best hand solely as a result of dealer error.  In this case, the cards were clearly retrievable, all hands were tabled because it was an all-in situation, and it was clear who had the winning hand.  

Player A's point, however, is that the dealer has already "made his decision", "scooped" the board cards together, and pushed the pot -- basically, it should be too late to award the pot to someone else.  He claims he's seen a decision made a casino in a cash game to that effect (which I find a bit hard to believe, but it has been nearly two decades since I've been in the pit in a cash game so I could be wrong). He also feels it is a bit unfair because Player C who was not in the hand pointed out the mistake.

So here are my questions (some are a bit theoretical l in nature, but for completeness I'll include them here):

1.  Was the ruling that Player B's hand should win correct?  Are the relevant rules 10, 11, 18 and 19?
2.  Do you think that the decision would be different if the board and player's cards were all turned over, mixed together face-up, but not yet mixed into the muck?  (assume that the losing hand was still on the table, and possible to reconstruct the hands of the all-in)
3.  Do you think that the decision would be different if Player B's cards were turned over after (incorrectly) ruling that A's hand wins, and placed on top of the muck before pushing Player A the pot (and at that point C asks dealer to reconsider)?
4.  Do you think that the decision would have been different if all the board and player's cards were turned over, mixed together with the muck, but before the riffle to start the next hand, C says: "Hey, didn't you (Player B) have a Jack, you would have had a straight!"
5.  Although this wouldn't probably be contemplated by the Rules, in theory, do you think it makes a difference if (a) Player B was also the dealer?  or (b) Player C was an off-duty TD?
6.  Would the decision have been different if it was a cash game, assuming both players were all-in and chose to table their hands?

Thanks in advance!
« Last Edit: December 14, 2011, 12:09:11 AM by K-Lo »

Nick C

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Re: Dealer pushes pot to wrong player in all-in situation, mistake discovered
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2011, 06:39:32 AM »
K-lo,
I will give you my answers and then research the specific ruling for the decisions.
To begin, you made the right call.
#1)  Your ruling was correct and we’ll go over the rules throughout this thread
.
#2)  I believe that if the dealers are trained to kill the losing hands and leave the winner face-up properly,  these mistakes  would be less likely to occur. It sounds as though your dealer is in the habit of mixing the players cards and board together, while still face-up. This procedure is incorrect. The dealers should be trained to; announce out loud each hand at the showdown as they are tabled, Kill the loser by turning the cards face down before sliding it into the muck (never on top). Then push the pot to the only player with cards…the winner.  This will allow any player to correct a mistake before the pot is awarded.

#3)  This confuses me. Why would any decision be made before both hands were tabled? The muck should be protected by the dealer at the showdown in such a manner that no player can place their cards on top of the muck? Face up or face down. Remember tournament rules insist that the cards of the all-in players must be tabled.

#4)  I have seen similar situations and there are a number of factors that come into play. In your game   tournament  rules must be followed, Keep in mind, cash games offer the floor more flexibility in decision making because it only involves the players in that pot, especially when head to head. I have seen players split pots in that situation because the player that was awarded the pot felt guilty, or lucky about getting anything with his losing hand. Likewise the player that allowed his winning hand to be mucked, feels lucky to get anything at all. However, this can only take place in cash games.
 I actually played at a table where, at the showdown, a player showed his neighbor and mucked his hand before it was properly tabled. The pot, about $100, was awarded to the other player. Before the next hand was dealt, the player that mucked said, “I had a straight and didn’t see it!” The player seated next to him said, “yes he did, I saw it.” Would you believe the player that was stacking the chips pushed the whole pot to the guy that mucked his hand!?? The whole pot!

#5)  I think that Stuart could better answer this question. He is very familiar with passing the deal and dealers playing . My short answer would be, the players need to rely on the integrity of the players they are competing against, so a mutual trust must exist and it shouldn’t make a difference.

#6)  I think we’ve covered the differences between tournaments and cash games. The biggest difference is the all-in situation in your original question. The fact that the showdown involves players all-in: TDA #11…both hands must be shown, and the winning hand can not be killed by the dealer.

Stuart Murray

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Re: Dealer pushes pot to wrong player in all-in situation, mistake discovered
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2011, 07:36:06 AM »
Hi K-Lo,

I will echo Nick's post, with the following:

1: You made the correct call, RROP "A Player who sees an error about to be made in awarding a pot has an ethical obligation to pojnt this out would apply" The hands were tabled and the board was run correctly, therefore the best high hand must win in the circumstance.

2: I have already answered that in 1, the best hand must win the pot

3: Ditto Thomas' post, why would the hand not be tabled before post river, as the players were all-in on the flop, even if both players went all-in post-river, the hand is an all-in therefore both hands must be tabled and the high hand claim the pot, only in cash games would a player not be obligated to table their hand, as chip dumping is not a 'real' issue in those games.

4: No the decision would not be different as before the riffle, a new hand has not yet commenced and there is still sufficient time to call the error.

5: In self-deal games in bars and/or casinos which are common in the UK, as Nick has already quoted there must be a degree of trust and integrity, that being said however, errors made by the dealer are obviously more common than a non-playing dealer dealt table, and by the book is a 'must do' as maintaining integrity is indeed more difficult, I find decisions are usually against the dealer who will often muck their own hand, or scoop the board thinking the hand is over etc, there are more errors with stubs, premature cards, fouled hands in self-deal, theerfore it is vital that you run by the book.

6: Tournament decisions must be made in the interests of the game, considering the effect of every player at every table, ensuring consistency, the consideration of the actual hand and players in the pot is secondary to the overall tournament.  Cash games must be consistently ruled, however it is only the hand/active players you need consider, which makes cash games far easier to rule.

Hope this helps!

Regards
Stuart
« Last Edit: December 14, 2011, 08:50:34 AM by Stuart Murray »

K-Lo

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Re: Dealer pushes pot to wrong player in all-in situation, mistake discovered
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2011, 08:20:43 AM »
Thanks, Nick.  Your help is much appreciated.

** Edit:  I posted this not seeing Stuart's reply.  Thanks for the insight!

Clarification re #2, #3:  Ha!  Alas, this is the challenge I face.  The dealers are told to kill and muck losing hands properly, but they forget... Sigh.  ;)  It is not uncommon for us to encounter situations and errors that just don't happen (at least often) with professional dealers, so they do test us regularly.  lol   Wrt confusion re #3: similar situation re: #2, but hand is tabled and then cards turned face down on top of the muck, (you alluded to this situation in your comment for #2).   So despite the error in procedure, would you agree that the decision in this case would not change because the hand is still clearly retrievable and identifiable?

What I was getting at with #4, is that Rule #11 does suggest that the winning hand, if properly tabled in an all-in situation, cannot be killed.  So what if Player B's hand is tabled when all-in, then turned over and shoved into the middle of the muck, but then the mistake is realized.  However, everyone at the table remembers what the mucked cards were... Would you then retrieve these cards from the muck?  I read with interest some of the other related posts on this forum talking about when muck-fishing should be permitted (basically almost never), but most of these other scenarios appear to deal with situations where a hand was mistakenly mucked by player or dealer in a non-all in situation.  In general, I appreciate that we should never be fishing into the muck, and hence, in general, if dealers muck hands so that they are co-mingled with other cards, it gives the TD an "out" to award the pot based on the last live hand. But here, the hand had been properly tabled, in an all-in situation.

Incidentally, here's an excerpt from the thread where you commented on a situation where a player mistakenly mucked his hand:
I have to disagree with this one. I have been training dealers for a long time and under no circumstance should a hand be retrieved from the muck, unless it was properly tabled (face-up horizontal on the table) before it was erroneously mucked by the dealer. It is unfortunate when any player mucks a winning hand, but that's the way it is...
(my emphasis)

Hypothetically, I'm just wondering how far you feel you would go to retrieve cards from the muck in a situation where the erroneously mucked hand had been properly tabled.

(p.s. In the actual scenario, I suspect that no hands were actually mucked -- the mistake was discovered with all cards still face up.  The player with QQ was just angry because the dealer "had already made his decision", which was then overruled after the mistake was pointed out by someone not in the hand).
« Last Edit: December 14, 2011, 08:24:26 AM by K-Lo »

Nick C

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Re: Dealer pushes pot to wrong player in all-in situation, mistake discovered
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2011, 09:07:05 AM »
K-lo,
 In my opinion a hand properly tabled, and seen by everyone as the winner, can never be declared dead or killed by the dealer. This is a quarantee, that even if the dealer makes a mistake in reading the hand, the player is protected from dealer error. Tournament poker demands that the pot be awarded to the best hand. This alone should be enough to instill players to protect their own hand and show the hand (the way they should). Dealers make mistakes, too...even good ones, but the ultimate responsibility is with the owner of the hand. By the way, Player C in your original post has every right (as Stuart quoted from RR's) to speak-up when an error is about to be made.

 To answer your question about how far I would go to retrieve cards from the muck...never, or almost never. The muck is built from discarded hands in an unorganized manner intentionally for that reason...they are not retrievable. PLEASE DON'T CONFUSE A PROPERLY TABLED HAND WITH OTHER MUCKED CARDS. If mucked cards were retrievable by design, they would be stacked nice and neat like they are in black-jack! When in fact, the exact opposite is what good dealers should practice. An unprotected hand must be mucked immediately in a manner that makes them un-retrievable.

This actually offers support to another post that I started the other day. In tournaments, why not insist that all cards be tabled at the showdown? Why only when any player is all-in?

Spence

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Re: Dealer pushes pot to wrong player in all-in situation, mistake discovered
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2011, 09:06:39 PM »
If you have the TDA rules posted I would offer protection to player C by making note of Rule #15
15: Killing Winning Hand
Dealers cannot kill a winning hand that was tabled and was obviously the winning hand. Players are encouraged to assist in reading tabled hands if it appears that an error is about to be made.
#2)  I believe that if the dealers are trained to kill the losing hands and leave the winner face-up properly,  these mistakes  would be less likely to occur. It sounds as though your dealer is in the habit of mixing the players cards and board together, while still face-up. This procedure is incorrect. The dealers should be trained to; announce out loud each hand at the showdown as they are tabled, Kill the loser by turning the cards face down before sliding it into the muck (never on top). Then push the pot to the only player with cards... the winner.  This will allow any player to correct a mistake before the pot is awarded.
Our dealers are trained to muck tabled non-winning hands on top of the muck in a retrieveable manner to make sure that mistakes that are made can be fixed quickly and efficiently. This also reduces having to fish through the muck. it seems odd to me to muck tabled non-winning hands directly into the muck. I understand what you are saying Nick that the error should be read right at that time but things can be missed or players sometimes are reluctant to speak up immediately.
Though I would not do this myself I have seen and heard times where the TD will ask the polayers at the table what the tabled hand was and if there was consensus by the majority of players they would rule that the cards were tables and in clear view of all(enough) players to be called the winning hand. It's tough to rely on this information a lot of the time so I guess I join my fellow colleagues in hoping that there is some integrity in the playing field.

Nick C

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Re: Dealer pushes pot to wrong player in all-in situation, mistake discovered
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2011, 10:20:53 PM »
Spence,
 I'm sorry, I do not agree with your dealer procedure for mucking cards. There is no question that your way makes it eaisier to identify the mucked cards, but the muck should never be retrieved. I was trained and certified at Internationl School for Dealers in Las Vegas Nevada in 1979. I became a Certified Poker Dealer Instructor in 1981 and I have trained dealers ever since. I don't expect you to change any procedure that works best for you, but I would be remiss if I agreed to, what I know to be, an incorrect dealer procedure.

 Players need only to act in turn and protect their own hand. If they follow those two simple rules, a good dealer will do the rest.

Stuart Murray

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Re: Dealer pushes pot to wrong player in all-in situation, mistake discovered
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2011, 06:04:50 AM »
Ditto Nick,

IMO It's called a 'muck' for a reason, folded hands should be irretrievable by dealers mucking them in a small random pile.

If it was changed to a 'discard' dealers would have a discard holder, with folded hands stacked in order of fold, in exactly the same manner as table card games are treated such as blackjack and casino bragg.

Regards
Stu
« Last Edit: December 16, 2011, 06:06:12 AM by Stuart Murray »

mooredog

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Re: Dealer pushes pot to wrong player in all-in situation, mistake discovered
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2011, 01:42:47 PM »
Right ruling K-lo as the rules #10 and #15 should pretty well settle the issue

Spence

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Re: Dealer pushes pot to wrong player in all-in situation, mistake discovered
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2011, 04:54:08 PM »
To defend myself a bit the dealers would only muck cards in this manner at the showdown and only for properly tabled hands. We do not go into the muck for ANY reason. This is simply so if a mistake is made a supervisor can say that the cards are identifiable and retrievable. There is NO fishing through the muck at any time by the supervisor or dealer.

Nick C

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Re: Dealer pushes pot to wrong player in all-in situation, mistake discovered
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2011, 08:23:48 AM »
Spence,
 Believe me, I understand what you are trying to defend but that procedure is wrong. Players must protect their own hands and I even teach dealers to prevent cards from hitting the muck, if a mistake is about to take place. Example: A player bets and then attempts to fold not realizing that another player is in the hand, or a player requests to see a called hand and the player tries to ditch the hand so it can't be revealed. In those instances it is appropriate for the dealer to "isolate the muck" in the best interest of the game. I know I'll be getting some interesting replies on this one.

I'm ready.

K-Lo

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Re: Dealer pushes pot to wrong player in all-in situation, mistake discovered
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2011, 09:35:01 AM »
Nick, I would like to explore this issue of mucking cards some more...  Do you think it is fair to insist that players still be responsible for protecting their own hand when they are no longer given physical control of their cards? 

More specifically, player A is at the end of a long table.  Not a regular showdown but an all-in situation (this is important).  Players A and B open up their hands and the dealer moves the tabled hands towards the centre of the table and places them above where the board will be dealt.  The dealer then deals out the flop, turn, river.  The dealer reads player B's hand (e.g. Trips), then A's hand (e.g. One pair), but player A believes the dealer has made an error (he thought he rivered a straight). He tells the dealer to wait as the dealer turns his cards face down, but the dealer is too fast/asleep/deaf and shoves the cards irretrievably into the middle of the muck. 

Can we really say that player A didn't protect his hand here?  It is not like he voluntarily threw in his hand towards the muck, like he might have done in a regular showdown situation where he would still be holding his cards or the cards would be within reach.  In a regular showdown, he can hold onto his hand until he is pushed the pot, exchanging his winning hand for the pot.  But in the all-in situation, he was forced to give up physical control of the cards when the dealer took them in after they were tabled.  In the all-in situation, it Is not like player A can keep his hands on the cards or jump over the table to stop the dealer from mucking them. 

If, in an all-in situation, cards were left in front of the players, and players were responsible for throwing them into the muck themselves after being read, then I can see the argument that the player should have protected his hand.  But this is not the typical procedure for an all-in situation.  Dealers routinely take the tabled hands from the players and move them to the center of the table, and muck the losing hands in these situations.  So... This is a long winded way of saying that I would not fault anyone for wanting to keep mucked cards in a manner in which they are retrievable, but only in situations where the hands have been properly tabled in an all-in situation, because players are no longer able to protect their own hands in those particular situations and any mistakes can be rectified more easily.

Nick C

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Re: Dealer pushes pot to wrong player in all-in situation, mistake discovered
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2011, 11:11:44 AM »
K-Lo,
 What a great post! You have explained the problem, and it's origin.

Nothing impacted the resurgence of poker like the the Travel Channel in 2003.  Along with telivised poker came the celebrity players and, a whole bunch of "bending the rules" for the sake of ratings. This leads to, what I consider to be, the acceptance of improper antics and procedures by these celebrity players for the sake of...TV.

Placing the cards, after the betting was done, close to the board cards was for the cameras in head-to-head competition. The benefits of telivised poker far outweighed the negatives but, that exposure to millions of future players, is where the most problems originated.

I would never take my hands off my cards, all-in or not, until I see a better hand or I'm awarded the pot.
K-Lo, to answer your question more directly. Never let the cards out of your hand. There is no need to place the cards in the center of the table. They can be turned over for all to see, yet they are still in your hand.

You mention that dealers routinely take the tabled cards from the players and move them to the center of the table. Don't let them! That should not be practiced by any dealer, not for un-televised games. So...Yes it is fair to insist that players protect their own hand, which means to never give up physical control of your cards until the winner is decided. Problem solved!



« Last Edit: December 17, 2011, 01:20:28 PM by Nick C »

Spence

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Re: Dealer pushes pot to wrong player in all-in situation, mistake discovered
« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2011, 04:38:57 PM »
More specifically, player A is at the end of a long table.  Not a regular showdown but an all-in situation (this is important).  Players A and B open up their hands and the dealer moves the tabled hands towards the centre of the table and places them above where the board will be dealt.  The dealer then deals out the flop, turn, river.  The dealer reads player B's hand (e.g. Trips), then A's hand (e.g. One pair), but player A believes the dealer has made an error (he thought he rivered a straight). He tells the dealer to wait as the dealer turns his cards face down, but the dealer is too fast/asleep/deaf and shoves the cards irretrievably into the middle of the muck. 
This is exactly the issue that we are preventing by having a mucking procedure as we do. A player who calls his hand as 1 pair and obviously opens is still entitled to the dealer reading the hand for clarities sake. We have a cards speak rule for a reason as well. Ultimately it is the dealers responsibility to read all tabled hands. When the dealer makes an error we have a duty to protect our players against that, unless it is instigated by player inaction. I want to make it clear that the dealers do protect the muck, they do not keep the muck in any discernible fashion, they simply muck(perhaps muck is the wrong word, let's use kill instead) they simply kill non-winnning fully tabled hands on top of the muck before awarding the pot to the correct (or incorrect) winner.

K-Lo

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Re: Dealer pushes pot to wrong player in all-in situation, mistake discovered
« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2011, 05:21:33 PM »
K-Lo, to answer your question more directly. Never let the cards out of your hand. There is no need to place the cards in the center of the table. They can be turned over for all to see, yet they are still in your hand.

You mention that dealers routinely take the tabled cards from the players and move them to the center of the table. Don't let them! That should not be practiced by any dealer, not for un-televised games. So...Yes it is fair to insist that players protect their own hand, which means to never give up physical control of your cards until the winner is decided. Problem solved!

Thanks, Nick.  While it may be true that the "bad habit" of moving cards to the center of the table during an all-in showdown might have evolved from TV, it appears that times have changed, and now the "bad habit" is the norm... or, I would venture to say, that it seems at least much more common to move the cards to the center of the table in all-in situations in tournament play, than it is to leave them in players' hands, for better or for worse.  Let's face it, if you look at any WSOP, Epic PL, WPT picture featuring an all-in situation, this is what you will see.  So in this 'modern' context, perhaps it would not be wrong to adapt, and allow cards of losing hands, which are not voluntarily mucked by the players, to be left in a retrievable form until it is time to start the next hand.

I know this position may be quite contentious given the long-held view of the purpose of the muck, but I do see the case for some flexibility where players no longer have the ability to physically protect (and thus muck) their own hand.  If you can accept this, then is it realistic to have one procedure for an event with an audience (e.g. TV), and a different procedure for all other occasions?
« Last Edit: December 17, 2011, 05:34:04 PM by K-Lo »