Rule Proposal for TDA

So William Kassouf and his antics at this years WSOP brings forth an opportunity to do something really good for the game of poker. Clearly, many of the floor staff had a tough time dealing with this unique individual and found themselves unclear on exactly what rules he was breaking. It just seemed like he had to be breaking some kind of rule right?

The thing is, every time we saw an argument between Kassouf and the floor staff, Kassouf put forth a winning argument that he wasn’t breaking any rules. This put the floor staff in a tough spot. Clearly it seemed like he was being annoying and disruptive and we saw clear evidence that he was totally wasting time in certain spots with no intention to call. The combination of overly aggressive “speech play” as well as the excessive tanking and time wasting, can both be covered with the following rule:

“If the Tournament Director deems a player to be disruptive to the game either by their behavior or slow pace of play, the TD reserves the right to issue a penalty after a warning has been given.”

Any player who decides to flirt with the line puts themselves in a position where they could be penalized and that is based solely on the discretion of the floor staff. This certainly gives a TD lots of power over controlling unique situations and doesn’t back them into a corner where they end up arguing over rules that may not be totally applicable to the situation.

What I like most about this phrasing is not simply that it punishes excessive behavior, but more importantly this rule alone can powerfully address the detrimental issue poker faces today: excessive tanking and stalling.

If a player is habitually taking far more time than the rest of his opponents, the floor may issue him a warning that if his pace of play doesn’t speed up, that may result in a one round penalty. This would apply at all stages of the tournament, including, most importantly, around the bubble and in spots where there is a significant pay jump.

Once a player is given a warning, and this should happen only when it becomes clear this player is wasting time, it’s upon him to adjust his play accordingly or face the repercussions of his disruptive actions. Excessive and intrusive banter is disruptive. Habitual tanking and stalling is disruptive. This rule would help tournament directors make sure that the playing experience for everyone in their tournament is enjoyable and played at an acceptable pace.