4

Situation: Low-stakes pub game sit-and-go

On the turn:
3 players in the hand.
SB and BB are both very short stacked
Hero in cutoff is chip lead, and the turn pairs his hand.

SB: check
BB: check
Hero: says "yea" as reaches for a tall stack of chips and puts it in. Easily enough to cover the other players.

Dealer says the bet doesn't count because I said "yea" first, and he took this to mean "check".

I can see his point of view, but it felt harsh.

I wasn't deliberately angle shooting. There was no hesitation or time passing between the verbal and the physical.
I was looking down at my chips so didn't see any other players reactions.
All my previous checks had been the standard "Check" or table-rap.
The dealer had not made any move to deal the river.

My internal dialogue in my head I meant "yea I'm going to bet now".

I think it was perfectly clear to everyone what my intension was, and the other players in the hand agreed. But the dealer put his foot-down.

The dealer also says that I should have said "Raise". I dispute this because it was the opening bet, not raising.

The dealer also says that he is putting his foot-down because it would put the other players all-in. I dispute this because it because it just not relevant. The rules can't swap from casual/friendly/pub/drinking game to strict/casino-style rulings mid-hand.

How would you rule on this?
A: I was entitled to play the way I did / "yea" does not mean "check".
B: You think it was boarder-line. I should make my actions clear in future, but might be happy to allow the bet to stand.
C: Dealer was entirely correct and you would not allow the bet.

  • 7
    "Yea" does not mean "check" in my poker vocabulary. – paparazzo Apr 4 '18 at 17:01
  • 3
    I think dealer was entirely wrong here. It was not even on the river so calling this angle shooting is a bit ridiculous. – Raymond Timmermans Apr 4 '18 at 17:15
  • Were you in the cutoff or on the button? Shouldn't be a cutoff in a 3 player hand. – corsiKa Apr 4 '18 at 20:18
  • @corsika there were 3 players in the current hand not total players. – Raymond Timmermans Apr 4 '18 at 21:30
  • D Dealer was green, made a ruling that was the domain of a floor person, and seemed to have issues. Tough luck for you. – Jon Apr 4 '18 at 22:52
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The only relevant question here is what the other players thought and how they reacted. If they thought it was a check, and reacted in any way that you might have been able to see before you bet, then ruling it a check is reasonable to prevent an angle shot. But if the bet was reasonably simultaneous with your ambiguous declaration, and the other players saw it as a bet, it's a bet. Of course the size of the bet cannot be a consideration.

A professional dealer in this situation, if he assumed that your "yeah" was a check (which is a reasonable assumption on its own), would then rap the table to indicate the end of betting before dealing the next card--which would give you an opportunity to object and ask him to wait for your bet, which he would do. If one of the other players then objected, he would call a floor, but he would never rule on his own.

  • Dealer was not a pro; just another player whom not in the hand. All live players were happy for the bet to stand. – Buh Buh GoFundMonica Apr 4 '18 at 16:54
  • Why do you think it is reasonable to assume that hero's ''yeah'' is a check? – Raymond Timmermans Apr 4 '18 at 16:56
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    In the absence of the OP's other description, the sequence "check", "check", "yeah" seems like "yeah, go ahead and deal" is a perfectly reasonable interpretation. – Lee Daniel Crocker Apr 4 '18 at 17:18
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    So if he had said "no" or "nah" you would force him to bet because that means don't deal? – paparazzo Apr 4 '18 at 17:26
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    Of course not; I would interpret "no" as "hold on..I'm thinking". Ambiguous declarations are ambiguous. It's perfectly reasonable for them to be understood in different ways. That's why a good dealer will clarify rather than assuming. – Lee Daniel Crocker Apr 4 '18 at 17:30
7

If you did one of the following things, you committed to checking the turn:

  • Clearly say the word "check"
  • Deliberately pat the table with your fingers extended twice in succession
  • Deliberately knock the table twice with your knuckles
  • Time was called on you and you failed to make an action in the appropriate amount of time and there was no action to you (although in some tournaments, such as the WSOP, this is actually a fold!)

If you did not do any of those things, you did not commit to checking the turn and the dealer should not have considered it to be a check.

The WSOP Official Rules have the following pearls of wisdom on the matter (emphasis mine):

.59. Official Terminology of Tournament Poker: Official terms are simple, unmistakable, time-honored declarations like: bet, call, fold, check, all-in, pot (in pot-limit only), and complete. Regional terms may also meet this standard. The use of non-standard language is at participant’s risk because it may result in a ruling other than what the participant intended. It is the responsibility of participants to make their intentions clear.
.60. Non-Standard and Unclear Betting: participants use unofficial betting terms and gestures at their own risk. These may be interpreted to mean other than what the participant intended.
.90. Verbal Declarations / Action in Turn: Verbal declarations in turn regarding wagers are binding.
.93. It is the participant’s responsibility to make his/her intentions clear. Standard and acceptable forms of calling include:
* a. Verbally declaring “call”.
* b. Pushing out chips equal to a call.
* c. Silently pushing out an oversized chip.
* d. Silently pushing out multiple chips equal to a call under Rule 92.
94. As in Rule 93, it is the participant’s responsibility to make his/her intentions clear. Standard and acceptable forms of raising include:
* a. Placing the full amount in the pot in one continuous motion without going back toward the participant’s stack.
* b. Verbally declaring the full amount prior to the initial placement of chips into the pot.
* c. Verbally declaring “raise” prior to the initial placement of chips in the pot. Participant can place the exact amount of the call and then can complete the raise with one additional motion back to the participant’s stack. If an amount other than the exact amount to call but less than a minimum raise is first put out or announced after the initial verbal declaration of “raise”; it will be ruled a minimum raise.

Now, the rules tend to focus on what is or is not a raise or call because those tend to be the kinds of issues that arise on the floor. However, in multiple cases it is quite clear: it is the player's responsibility to make their intention clear. According to rule 94.a, you performed an acceptable act. It would then be the responsibility of the dealer to count and declare your raise size. It would have been more clear to have said "all-in" to force your opponents all-in, but the dealer should have accepted your raise.

I would also say that in a normal scenario, you would have called a floor manager. In a pub you might not have that (although, your local gambling legislation may force the establishment to provide an arbiter.) In general, if the dealer got the intention wrong, and you notify them before killing your hand, they would simply accept that and move forward with your bet.

  • Tournament rules are a lot more detailed and precise, but in an ordinary cash game, a floorman can and should hold a player to an action that was clearly understood by the players, even if it's in an unusual form. I once ruled that "back at ya" was a reraise when the circumstances made it clear that the bettor intended that and his opponent understood it. – Lee Daniel Crocker Apr 4 '18 at 22:46
  • I would not expect the behaviors of the dealers with respect to interpreting player commands to differ between cash and tournament. Indeed, cash games are specifically mentioned as being WSOP events covered by the linked rules. And I completely agree with your assessment of the re-raise, but would also caution that it is the player's responsibility to ensure the dealer and/or floor manager are able to properly interpret their intended actions. Side note, since OP mentioned this was a SnG I would expect this to more closely align to tournament rules than cash game rules. – corsiKa Apr 4 '18 at 23:02
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    Agree, when you play by the rules it is just more fair for everyone. "Yea" can mean a lot of things. – paparazzo Apr 5 '18 at 14:29
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"Yea" does not mean "check" in my poker vocabulary. To me it is not even an angle shoot.

For sure you don't need to announce "raise" if you are putting in a raise (in one action).

1

I understand that the dealer could interpret your 'yeah' as a check. However it is in my opinion too vague to assume this and, like Daniel said, a good dealer should clarify any ambiguous statements or movements before commiting to a decision. The dealer is at fault here. Besides this was on the turn and not even on the river. Calling your 'yeah' angleshooting, the way you described it, is ridiculous.

  • Yes this is how I felt about it too. He might have genuinely thought I was checking; but 0.2 seconds later as my chips moved in he should have realised his assumption was wrong, and kept his thoughts to himself. He hadn't made any move to burn the river, so I think the issues were entirely in his head. – Buh Buh GoFundMonica Apr 5 '18 at 9:13

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