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How Do You Rule? - Readers Respond, Part 2

by George “The Engineer” Epstein

In Part One, we described a number of the responses to my column entitled, “How Do You Rule?” that appeared in the Feb. 10 issue of PPN. Today we will continue to present more responses, including one from the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) vice president, and two from Australia. After studying the responses, I have drawn conclusions that I will share with you in Part Three.

Reminder: We described a hand where James bet on the river; then, after Bill called, James shouted, “Full-House.” Bill promptly mucked his hand. But, when James showed his hand, all he had was A-K high. An argument erupted. Bill claimed he had the better hand. James insisted that, having gone into the discards, Bill’s hand was dead. The floorman settled the controversy by retrieving what presumably was Bill’s hand from the edge of the muck and declaring Bill the winner with a better hand. More Response Highlights

• Rich Muny, vice president of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), likes Robert’s Rules of Poker, which he interprets: “The mucked hand should always be retrieved from the muck where clearly identifiable if the muck was caused by misinformation – intentional or unintentional. If unintentional, the best hand wins. If the miscall is found to be intentional angle shooting, the player who miscalled forfeits the pot.”

• On the other hand, Sylvia T. of Florida experienced just the opposite. The poker room manager told her, “You know that all poker players are liars, and it was your responsibility to protect your hand. You should not have listened to what your opponent said, and mucked your cards... I am the manager and what I say goes.” The manager did reprimand her opponent, but awarded him the pot.

• Ed Pickens, also an engineer like me, enjoys no-limit games in Arizona (where he lives) and Las Vegas. He offers a different perspective: “What James says is irrelevant... A good dealer would guard the muck with his hand from an incorrect fold.” He adds, “If it is demonstrated that James indeed cheated, Bill’s better hand can still be dead... Return the chips to all the players and give James a penalty and/or warning.” Ed was the only respondent who would return the chips to all the players. (That would be difficult but possible.)

• Dave Klimek who enjoys playing in Las Vegas, suggests that Bill should learn: “Never muck your hand until you see your opponent’s hand.” His decision (he is not happy with it) is “to pull the cards out of the muck, and give the pot to the highest hand – and tell both players to pay better attention.”

• Ben Gorvin, a 22-y.o. college student majoring in psychology, who lives in Mt. Claremont, Western Australia, makes an interesting point: “To say ‘full-house’ in that spot is perhaps unethical, but not illegal. There is no rule that a player must verbally announce his true hand once all action has finished.”

• Rey Silva who plays at Borgata in Atlantic City and Harrahs Philadelphia, and almost made the money in the WPT at Borgata, offered a very astute response: “Poker is a game of disguise, misdirection, deception; it’s a game of LIE!” One form is angle shooting to gain an advantage, he explained. “As a poker player, you should be aware of this, and… protect your investment.”

• Along the same vein, Richard Larkin of Perth, Australia, also would rule in James’ favor. He referred to rule 73.1 of the International Rules of Poker which states that a verbal declaration of a player’s hand is nonbinding. The pot should be awarded to James; and then, he should be penalized if it is decided that he intentionally miscalled his hand. Tongue in cheek, observing that Bill did not realize that there was no possibility of a full-house based on the board, Larkin invites Bill to his home games. Larkin also advocates for standardizing the poker rules throughout the world.

Note: Other responses, for the most part, were similar to those described above.

The Solution? See Part Three! The variety of opinions is fascinating; there are many differences among readers. A comment by Rich Muny of the PPA set me on the path to the best solution. Clue: We are both engineers.

George “The Engineer” Epstein is the author of The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners! and Hold’em or Fold’em?—An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision and teaches poker at the Claude Pepper Sr. Citizen Center in Los Angeles. Contact George at

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