WSOP bans chip-riffling at this summer’s World Series

Author Adam Hampton
Adam Hampton
Posted on: April 01, 2024 01:01 PDT

[UPDATE: We hope you enjoyed this April Fool's Day story - go riffle and shuffle your chips as much as you like!]

For many, the sound of thousands of players riffling and shuffling their poker chips in a casino ballroom is the sound of the WSOP, but all that’s set to change as soon as this summer’s World Series begins.

With a decision that’s sure to spark debate, WSOP organizers have announced the upcoming introduction of ‘rule 4.1’, a zero-tolerance ban on any ‘deliberate manipulation of poker chips that produces sound over 40db’.

According to auditory experts at Yale University, the 40db level is deemed to be louder than a whisper, but quieter than a refrigerator, effectively meaning the days of chip-shuffling at the poker table are over for good.

The science behind the ban

While many live players will lament the passing of this card room tradition, the decision has been made with science in mind - and should ultimately prove beneficial to all players. Dr Martin Marceau of the Université de Coups-Durs in France has the data to prove the damage chip-riffling can cause is all-too real.

“One player’s chips being riffled may only create noise with a sound level up to around 40db,” Dr Marceau told PokerOrg, “but the collective noise of many players indulging in this practice… can result in sufficient noise to cause real damage to the human ear.” Faced with the obvious health benefits, Dr Marceau has shared his findings with tournament organizers across the world, with the WSOP just the first of many to implement these restrictions at the tables.

Players’ protests on the incoming ban have fallen, ironically, on deaf ears. “It’s not even important to the game,” Dr Marceau added, “I think they just do it to show off.”

Hands pushing poker chips forwards The WPT is among many tour operators expected to follow the WSOP in banning chip-rifflers

Missed orbits, DQs and worse promised for offenders

Some obvious questions have arisen from today’s announcement, not least how the ban will be enforced during the WSOP.

It’s understood that the burden of enforcing rule 4.1 will fall primarily on the shoulders of individual dealers. Lily ‘Lefty’ Keaton, a trainee dealer hoping to work at this summer’s WSOP, told PokerOrg: “It’s not fair, we have enough to do already without enforcing a whole new rule. It’s hard enough getting heard over all the noise in the casino… although I guess that will be easier once they stop all that fiddling with the chips.”

When it comes to penalties for infringing rule 4.1, first offenders are expected to be handed a one-orbit penalty, with a second infringement met with a straight-up disqualification. Persistent rule-breakers who are penalized in more than one event during the series can expect even heavier-handed penalties, up to and including a lifetime ban from the WSOP itself.

Exceptions to the new rule

The wording of the new rule includes the phrase ‘deliberate manipulation’, leaving players who accidentally knock chips together in the clear, although repeat offenders can expect a warning at the very least. Players who suffer from any medical conditions which may affect their manual motor skills can also apply for a rule 4.1 exemption certificate, while WSOP legend Phil Hellmuth will also be exempt on ‘legacy grounds’.

To apply for an exemption certificate, eligible players are advised to complete the online application as soon as possible.

What do you think? Are you for or against the introduction of rule 4.1? Let us know your thoughts via our social channels (ideally before 12pm today).