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In the early 1990s poker was very different. In particular, almost any behavior was tolerated: players threw cards at the dealer, said enough to bring a dealer to tears, "accidentally" burnt a dealer with a cigar (and i heard about card throwing that one dealer suffered eye damage from this).

I guess as poker got bigger, they started to institute penalties (anteing while sitting out for a few rounds was a great idea) which were very effective although some players got away with more than others -- Scotty Nguyen comes to mind, and his behavior has been televised.

Anyway, in the early 1990s, I was at the final table with 3 other players and two of them, one of whom was Men "The Master" Nguyen and the other I forget his name, never got into hands against each other. (This was limit Omaha hilo.) If one was on the small blind and his "partner" who was sitting next to him was thus on the big, if neither I nor the 4th player was in, he would simply fold.

I complained to the tournament director and he said, verbatim iirc, "what do you want me to do about it?" and indeed nothing happened. this was for that time and place a fairly decent-sized event, first place was over 30k.

So my question is, even today, how is that sort of thing dealt with? The rules about verbal abuse/card throwing are enforced but how does one prove this kind of collusion and if proven, what is the penalty?

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The WSOP has rules against collusion and card throwing, the collusion rule is as follows

b.Collusion is defined as any agreement between or among two (2) or more Participants to engage in illegal or unethical acts against other Participants. Collusion includes, but is not limited to, acts such as: chip dumping; soft play; sharing card information with another Participant; sending or receiving signals from or to another Participant; the use of electronic communication with the intent to facilitate collusion; and any other act that Riodeems inappropriate.

1.Chip dumping is defined as any agreement between or among two (2) or more Participants for one or more of the Participants to bet chips with the intent of increasing another Participant's stack.

2.Soft play is defined as any agreement between or among two (2) or more Participants to not bet or raise each other in order to minimize the number of chips lost by those Participants participating in the agreement.

and the possible penalties are as follows:

1.FORFEITURE OF CHIPS

2.FORFEITURE OF PRIZE MONEY

3.EJECTION FROM AN EVENT OR THE ENTIRE WSOP TOURNAMENT

4.LOSS OF PRIVILEGE TO PARTICIPATE IN FUTURE WSOP EVENTS

5.EXCLUSION FROM ENTERING THE PREMISES OF CASINO AND/OR ALL DESIGNATED AFFILIATES OF RIO.

As far as enforcement of these rules, it is usually up to the discretion of the tournament director. If a player is verbally abusing the dealer, throwing cards, or colluding with another player, the tournament director will be called over and evaluate the situation and make a decision.

These rules are specifically for the WSOP, but other tournaments and casinos have similar rules in most cases.

  • wsop.com/2019/2019%20WSOP%20Tournament%20Rules.pdf you can look at all the rules here – Clarko Dec 2 at 19:18
  • interesting. i think the penalties for bad behavior started well after 2000. the incident i described was not at wsop. i cant believe anarchy prevailed for so long and that top players were not more alarmed. Scotty Nguyen turned me off of live poker all by himself, Binion's management let him get away with so much. – releseabe Dec 2 at 19:30
  • @releseabe I think that is exactly why it started getting enforced more, players like yourself did not want to put up with it. – Clarko Dec 2 at 23:20
  • I dont think its possible to 'prove' soft play unless theres evidence of a discussion/agreement though. Esp if the players deny it, im sure there are a bunch of plausible reasons they can give as to why the are 'coincidentally' folding against each other. – sakon Dec 3 at 6:25
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    @sakon I agree, as long as they are not making it super obvious. For example if they fold a premium like aces or kings then that would be pretty solid evidence. In most cases there would be no way of knowing what their hand is so that is not applicable in all situations. – Clarko Dec 3 at 19:09

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