The Tournament Directors Association (TDA), has closed the curtain on its two-day gathering of tournament directors and poker-room managers from across the country and around the world, where attendees debated and attempted to derive best-practice solutions for many of the situations that can cause difficulties in operating poker tourneys.
The summit, the tenth in TDA history, was held at the PokerGO Studio, which sits just outside the Aria Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Several dozen tournament officials gathered for the Friday-Saturday to discuss the latest hot-button topics in tourney poker. Chaired by TDA founder and perpetual Poker Hall of Fame nominee Matt Savage, the summit’s agreed-upon improvements will soon be updated into the TDA rules and procedures that are widely used as operating guidelines by tourney venues worldwide. The TDA is not the only tournament-rules organization around, but it is the largest and most influential.
The topics up for discussion vary over time but often return to recurring themes. One such thorny issue, always explored by the TDA, is the use of phones at the tables. The issue received additional attention in recent weeks as numerous TDs discovered the extent to which some players call up range charts and odds calculators on their phones, often while seated at the tables. It’s an ongoing collision between fair-play concerns, the spirit of the live game, and the privacy issues at stake.
A Powerpoint slide distributed at the summit included the following questions about phone use: “Are betting apps a nuisance at your tournaments? Is it cheating or fair play? Is their use inevitable? Can it be controlled? Is stronger language needed?” The last refers to the possibility of stricter enforcement of rules against using phones while at the table, specifically.
Other topics included debate about the sequencing of bets in big-blind-ante tourneys. The big-blind-ante format has quickly become the dominant format after being introduced just a few years back, largely because it increases the number of hands played over any given period of time. The BBA format has also created other quirks that clever players soon learned to exploit, and the TDA’s task includes seeking ways to continue improving the format.
From discussing the number of players needed to be present to begin starting play at a given table to discussing how to handle the stack of an absent player whose table is broken, to the timeworn issue of needing more ways to deal with stalling players, the TDA summit explored quite a few nagging topics.
Update on recommended rule changes to be released in coming days
Savage offered running updates on some of the most contentious rules and topics being discussed. One such topic involves the big-blind-ante format, and whether a player whose ante puts him all in pre-flop should be eligible to win the blinds. Despite the fact that “ante” is Latin for “before” or “preceding”, and has traditionally been used as prerequisite to participating in a given hand, not all tourney directors share that view. Since no consensus could be finalized, Savage and the TDA voted to remove language about that specific point of BBA play from the PPA’s guidelines:
The issue regarding cel phones being used at the table as possible strategic issues also turned into something that the TDA couldn’t quite resolve:
The TDA’s task remains trying to make the game both fair and enjoyable for all. It’s a neverending task, however, since poker’s very nature is dynamic, with societal and technical advances layered over the top like icing on a cake. Still, the TDA and similar groups will continue to lead the charge for rule uniformity and fairness, no matter how complex the issues become.
Featured image source: Haley Hintze