Thursday, June 29, 2006


A few weeks back, I ventured into the Gutshot Club in London for only the second time. The first was a media event for the Irish Poker Open (attended by poker pro Barney Boatman!) and to say I was unimpressed would be a hell of an understatement. The place couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be a sauna or the North Pole, it was chaotic, cramped, and uncomfortable, and the actual interior of the joint was poor to abysmal.

However, on my second step into the Gutshot Club (which happened to be during their ultimately disappointing festival week), it was as if my inner moans had somehow been answered, as they’d opened up a new room next door.

Now this room wasn’t just your run of the mill cardroom, no siree, this place was surprisingly impressive and I feared ordering any food in case the waitress served up my own words for me to munch on.

Big, chic, modern, stylish, well laid out, air-conditioned, bar one side… toilets on t’other, this place, although being no Binions, was a huge advancement on the dingy site that lurked next door. Even the dealers, whilst admittedly painstakingly slow, were pretty darn efficient.

So, why the one step back? Well, the third time I played (a visit that I was now genuinely looking forward to), I witnessed some rather poor tournament directing. It was a £100 freezout and, as per usual, the place was brimming with those lovable (?) Cockneys. ‘Shuffle up and deal!’ exclaimed the T.D and we were off.

Initially, I was thoroughly enjoying my opening hands, but, before long, my joy turned to chagrin when I saw this new ‘exposure’ rule put into practice. Now, I’m all for stamping out cheating, but this rule is quite simply ridiculous. According to the Gutshot’s policy, if at any time you ‘expose’ your cards whilst a hand is in progress, you automatically receive a 10 minute ban. ‘Cool,’ I hear you cry, ‘bravo Gutshot for making a stand.’ Well, don’t clap too hard just yet. After about twenty minutes, one young lad, a broad smile on his face and clearly enjoying his night’s poker, mucks his hand preflop, accidentally flipping one card as it hit the felt. ‘Ruling!’ shouted the dealer, and, yes, the poor fellow had to sit in the docks for 10 minutes.

Now, I don’t know about you, but this is ridiculous. Surely the point of a rule is to prevent angle-shooting in which the individual intentionally gains an unfair advantage over another player. Well, does this sound like angle-shooting to you?! What possible advantage could he have gained, and how on earth can it be deemed punishable. There had been the slightest of action (perhaps 1 preflop caller and one preflop mucker), the revealed card was something raggy like a deuce, and no one on the table was complaining. In fact, if anything, people were complaining about the absurdity of the rule.

Okay, now just once doesn’t seem that big a deal. Yes, in a near crap shoot like this, 10 minutes is a cruel punishment (especially in the later stages), but what if it happened twice, three times, or even four?! And that was just our table!

Well, officially, it only happened three times; the second when someone swivelled in their chair to reach for a magazine, and the third when a player, who amusingly had been previously backing the rule but briskly changed his stance once he was on the other end, mistakenly flipped his cards in a similar manner. All ten minute bans, all not happy bunnies, and all totally innocent in terms of the supposed accusation of cheating.

To be honest, if this silly rule is set in place precomp and the T.D abides by it, then I have no complaints until post comp. I know the rules, and I still choose to play. However, when a clear lack of consistency is displayed, I find it rather annoying, and begin to feel sorry for those victims of the crooked rule.

To give you an example, the fourth chap to expose his hand, which he undertook by revealing his hole cards to his neighbour, was let off Scott free. The inevitable argument ensued - ‘Hey, I was sin-binned earlier on for the same thing!’ ‘You’re a cheat!’ ‘You’re scum!’ etc, etc, etc. And still, even with such a big fuss made, play was ordered to continue and the player in question, a regular (hmm), goes unpunished.

The Tournament Director (or Cardroom Supervisor, if that is the preferred term these days) not only fudged this one up, but he later showed inconsistency once again in terms of decision-making.

A local fellow raised from the button, and I, holding K-Q and suspecting a button steal, moved in over the top from the small blind. I smoothly slid my chips across the line and looked back at my cards. The big blind folded and so did the original raiser… even though it was only 500 more to call (!!!) I was shocked, but just suspected that it was a newbie error on his part. Then, out of nowhere, he suddenly tried to pull his cards back, obviously not realising that I’d moved all-in.

‘Ruling!’ The T.D trotted over once again, and, although the local pleaded ‘I’m not going to fold Ace-Jack for just 500 more!’, ruled that, as the hand had been mucked, the fold stood and the chips were to be sent my way. Sound fair? I guess so, standard rule from what I understand.

Well, guess what! He changed his mind!! After a bit of pressuring from the local and listening to those frightening words, ‘There’s no way I’m accepting that decision,’ the T.D quickly reversed his decision and informed me that he was going to let him make the call.

At this stage, I didn’t really care. If I had my way, I’d let him make the call anyhow. He’s obviously not trying to cheat, no one doubted that he’d make the call if he knew I’d gone all-in, and so was in no way trying to cheat me or the game. Sometimes, I believe T.D’s need to adopt a level of common sense into their decisions.

Anyway, he made the call, and I flopped a Queen to take down the pot. The T.D. scuttled off and I got it in the neck with the chips being flung across and taunts of how I managed to get my chips in with just King high.

I must confess, I don’t really care which way the decision goes. It’s not the World Series and so it’s not really any skin off my nose. I fancied a double-up, but, at the same time, I wasn’t too concerned about making my exit and heading to the bar. What I do detest however is when decisions are reversed without the correct justification.

Inconsistency like this really is a pet hate of mine, and only further strengthens the argument for a governing body, one in which can clarify these rules, thereby eradicating such high levels of inconsistency and, hopefully, doing away with such oddities as the Gutshot’s ‘exposure’ rule.

I don’t blame the T.D personally, and I hope this article doesn’t appear to be too much of a written ambush. Directing tourneys is clearly a very difficult and, from what I hear, vastly underpaid job. Therefore, I won’t hesitate to return, but, what I will say, is that although they impressed with their beautiful and sumptuous new cardroom, the way in which the comp was run bordered on the disappointing and I hope these imperfections are ironed out for when I next frequent the Club. I look forward to finding out…


At 3:12 AM, Blogger Alex Martin said...

You make good points. That level of inconsistency would have me demanding my money back.
I would have loved to seen the guys face when the Q wins it for you....

At 5:21 PM, Blogger snoopy1239 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 5:21 PM, Blogger snoopy1239 said...

Hi Alex,

It wasn't a funny sight unfortunatley, he was absolutely furious (unjustifably so) with me (!!)

In fact, he was very agressive and intimdiating.


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