Friday, March 13, 2009

Harrah’s Releases 2009 WSOP Player Conduct Rules, by Tom Jenkins - Poker News Daily - 13th March 2009

After high-profile incidents in 2008 involving Scotty Nguyen and Phil Hellmuth, Harrah's officials are determined to curb player infractions in 2009 at the World Series of Poker (WSOP). This week, tournament officials introduced player conduct guidelines for the 2009 WSOP, which kicks off in two months from the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

The 2009 WSOP rules, as you would expect, specifically outlaw any form of cheating at the poker tables. These include, but are not limited to, collusion, stealing chips, taking chips from one WSOP tournament and then using them in another, marking cards, switching out cards, "or the use of any kind of cheating device." Examples of collusion include chip dumping, soft play, players overtly or covertly telling each other what cards they have, and "sending or receiving signals from or to another player."

Breaking these and other rules can result in the loss of chips, forfeiture of prize money, or disqualification from the tournament. Infractions that could result in these penalties also include "any statement or action having… an effect prejudicial or detrimental to the best interest of the tournament as determined by Harrah's." Any players acting in "a disruptive or inappropriate manner" could also be subject to ejection from the tournament.

Last year during the $50,000 buy-in HORSE Championship, poker pro Scotty Nguyen acted abusively towards tournament staff. He made comments such as “The only thing I know how to say is nut nut" and harassed cocktail servers constantly. At one point, Nguyen told tablemate Erick Lindgren, a Full Tilt Poker pro, “I tried to protect your hand,” which raised issues of possible collusion. Nguyen later apologized, although the spectacle played out on ESPN. Phil Hellmuth, a front man for online poker room Ultimate Bet, talked down to his opponents fairly openly during the Main Event.

With regards to the use of inappropriate language, the 2009 rules state, "Harrah's prohibits the use of obscene or foul language in any public area of the casino at any time. Any player who uses such language or makes a foul, profane, obscene, or vulgar statement, or speaks abusively or in an intimidating manner to another player, a dealer, or tournament staff member will be penalized."

The excessive celebration rule, which was put in place after Hevad Khan's boisterous run through the 2007 WSOP Main Event, will also return. It states, "Excessive celebration through extended theatrics, inappropriate behavior, or physical actions, gestures, or conduct will be subject to penalty." Khan took sixth in the Main Event two years ago, banking nearly $1 million. He is now a member of Team PokerStars Pro. Another rule on the books includes "repeated etiquette violations." These include touching another player's chip stack or hole cards while in a hand, purposely stalling, or "excessive chatter."

Penalties will range from a verbal warning to ousting from the tournament. Players can also be sidelined for one hand, one orbit, two orbits, three orbits, or four orbits. Poker News Daily columnist Linda Johnson, co-founder of the Tournament Directors Association, stated in a previous interview that many events have gone to penalties that force players to miss hands or rounds. Previously, tournaments had sidelined players for a predetermined amount of time. However, remaining players at the table would speed up or slow down their actions accordingly.

New for 2009 is a database that will keep track of player infractions. In its rules, Harrah's states, "Harrah's will maintain a written log of all penalties issued throughout the duration of the WSOP." The database will allow tournament staff to identify habitual rule violators. In addition, floor personnel will receive extra training in 2009.

Other tournament guidelines include continued enforcement of the "English only" rule, which states that only the English language is acceptable at the table. In addition, rabbit hunting is strictly forbidden. Players must keep their highest valued chips visible at all times and only music-playing devices that are unable to connect to the internet can be used. WSOP officials note that iPhones, iTouch, Treos, and Blackberrys are not allowed at the table.

Finally, those who violate Harrah's code of conduct may see their actions revealed to the general public. The guidelines state, "Any and all violations of this Code of Player Conduct may be publicly disclosed in an effort to deter future violations and to assist other poker tournaments in identifying players who engage in play or any action that is illegal, unethical, or constitutes cheating or collusion in any form." (Credit: Poker News Daily)

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Additional Rules for World Series of Poker

"Play nice" will be important

March 12, 2009 (InfoPowa News) -- World Series of Poker organizers Harrah's Entertainment released new WSOP rules this week that include a "play nice" provision under the heading "Code of Player Conduct". The rules cover the use of profane language and provocative conduct at the tables, along with restrictions on sponsor logos at televised feature and final tables and an admonition not to engage in any illegal or unethical actions, cheating or collusion, examples of which are provided.

"Civility and courtesy" are expected at the World Series of Poker, the guide reminds players and spectators alike, and that includes "excessive celebration."

For those who transgress, penalties include: forfeiture of chips; forfeiture of prize money; ejection from the tournament; exclusion from future tournaments; exclusion from the property and public exposure of the transgression.

Although the rule against profanity is restricted to language directed at, or about, another player, dealer or tournament staff member, the organizers have left themselves with room to maneuver by including a clause that Harrah's can at any time " ... impose a zero-tolerance policy for profane language whether directed at another person or not."

The 2009 WSOP Tournament Rules can be found at

Harrah's has also announced that pre-registration for the 2009 WSOP is now open. There is a cap on the number of contestants that can be accommodated at the biggest land poker championship in the world which runs from May 26 through July 15 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, with the "November Nine" returning to play the Main Event final table November 7-10 as was done in 2008.

Once the maximum number of entrants has been reached in each of the 57 events, that event will be declared a fully booked. "As is now customary, no alternates will be seated," said Jack Effel, WSOP tournament director. "We encourage players to pre-register early to guarantee their seats, which will be sold on a first-come first-serve basis."

Buy-ins range from $1,000 to $50,000, depending on the event chosen.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Details on New WSOP Tournament Structure with Triple Stacks, by Tom Jenkins - Poker News Daily - 10th March 2009

When players take to the felts for the 2009 World Series of Poker (WSOP) at the Rio in Las Vegas, they'll notice a stark difference instantaneously. The starting chip stacks, which were doubled in 2008, will be tripled in 2009. In addition, tournament directors have added several levels to event structures. Poker News Daily sat down with Tournament Director Jack Effel to learn more about what players can expect when the WSOP begins in just two short months.

On the decision to triple the starting stacks, Effel told Poker News Daily, "At 2x chips, players didn’t feel like they got a lot of play in the smaller events. With 3x chips, you can play around with the structure and add more levels." The $1,000 buy-in "stimulus" tournament, for example, will give players a stack of 3,000 to go to battle with. Added levels include 75-150 as well as 1,200-2,400, which is included in $1,500 buy-in and up events. The Main Event will award 30,000 in starting chips and has a bevy of levels, each lasting two hours.

Deep stack tournaments were popularized by the Venetian in Las Vegas, among other places. Now, you can find these tournaments around the world. Effel commented, "It's a very competitive industry with a lot of tournaments moving to a deep stack format. However, putting on a successful event is difficult unless you really understand the math behind it." The WSOP has based its model on playing time per day. Tournament officials are aiming for eight to ten hours of play for the first two days of a tournament. In an economic drought, Effel explained the importance of allowing players time to make moves at the table: "It gives players plenty of game for their money."

As a result of 30,000 in starting chips, Effel expects each tournament to take an extra two levels to complete, or about four hours' time for the Main Event. He explained, "You'll feel that in the beginning. It gives players more of an opportunity to make moves and use strategy. It's going to benefit both the little guy who won his way in and it's also going to benefit the pros, who have additional time to perfect their strategy." Play on each of the four starting days in the Main Event is scheduled to last for five levels. Last year, 6,844 players turned out. For the first time, its final table was postponed until November in order to create additional hype. The result was a 50% jump in television ratings for the final table telecast, which aired on ESPN within 24 hours of filming.

In the Pot Limit Omaha tournaments, players will begin with a starting stack equal to the buy-in. Players can then elect to add on twice at any point during the first three levels in lieu of a rebuy. All entrants will be required to add on at the end of three levels of play. The Rio's massive Amazon Room and surrounding tournament areas can accommodate up to 300 tables. Registration for events is scheduled to open this week, but was not yet available at the time of writing. All rebuy events were eliminated from the 2009 WSOP schedule after input received from the Players Advisory Council.

The 2008 WSOP was marred by incidents involving Scotty Nguyen and Phil Hellmuth. The former won the $50,000 buy-in HORSE Championship allegedly intoxicated. The latter lambasted his competition throughout the Main Event. Both were featured prominently on ESPN. Effel noted that, in 2009, floor staff will receive additional training for the enforcement of player conduct rules: "When you have a rule, employees are less likely to use their own interpretation. Sometimes what you think is acceptable is not acceptable to others. It's tough in certain situations to figure out whether a player was being abusive. Obviously, we learned a lot from last year."

Effel noted that Nguyen received several warnings during his antics at the HORSE final table. However, he was not penalized. Effel explained, "Some of the things he said weren’t heard by the floor person. Unless you're standing over the dealer, you may not catch something. That's pretty much what happened." This year, Harrah's staff will utilize a player tracking database that will log any penalty or warning. For the first time, tournament staff will be armed with a history of player infractions.

Visit the 2009 WSOP schedule to review structure sheets for each event. Stay tuned to Poker News Daily for the latest from the Rio. (Credit: Poker News Daily)

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