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Deals Not Allowed At the WSOP - Since When?

2 July 2010, By: compncards
Jack Effel 430x286
Jack Effel 430x286

Yueqi Zhu earlier today was disqualified from Event #53 of the World Series of Poker.  The event is the $1,500 Limit Holdem Shootout and each table during a round is played to a winner.  In Round 1 action yesterday, Zhu was heads-up on his table and his opponent was down to 6,000 in chips.  Zhu was not feeling well and a deal was struck between the two resulting in the player folding until Zhu was the winner.

When action started in today's Round 2, Jack Effel made an announcement that players must win their chips at the table and not off and "there is no deal making at the World Series of Poker."

Since when?  As I understand the WSOP official rules as both a player and as a media member, Harrah's and the World Series of Poker cannot help to broker a deal between players, but if players decide to work out some type of deal, the event must still be played out to completion.

Two years ago during the $3,000 NL Event where John Phan won his first bracelet, the two players openly talked about the event during the heads-up match in front of the people running the event and even held up play while they discussed their deal.  The two players still worked out their numbers and did their own settling up, etc, but they still did a deal.  Play was even stopped while Phan's opponent went and discussed things with his backer.

Collusion vs. Deal

I was speaking with my partner that was with me covering the John Phan final table and one point that he reinforced that may be a better argument than "there are no deals" is the matter of collusion.  One may argue the fact that with 65 players theoretically remaining at the time of this "deal", it really amounted to collusion.  While they were playing a shootout format, there were still two more rounds left to play.  Their decision could impact 63 other players and as such is cheating.

This argument would be more substantial to me had this been a regular event and if the other player had more than 6k in chips.  The only thing really at stake was whether Zhu or his opponent would begin round two.  They would start with the same chips as everyone else, so they really would not be putting any player at any type of a disadvantage.

One Rule May Solve the Argument

Before I summarized this article, I did a quick check of the rules.  There are NO RULES in the list of official rules that prohibit deal making by players.  However, look at the last sentence of Rule #95,

95. Poker is an individual game. Soft play will result in penalties that may include forfeiture of chips and/or disqualification. Chip dumping will

result in disqualification.

The second sentence would actually fit this situation.  Zhu's opponent did actually chip dump to him as part of the "deal".  Thinking of it in that terms would actually give more credence to the collusion angle.  The way things went down was that the kid folded until Zhu won.  Had they did something along the line of play blind flips until Zhu won or something of that nature, it would have been less of a case for chip dumping.  However, since this equated to blatant chip dumping, Harrah's could use that rule.

However, this still doesn't resolve fully resolve the matter.  In my opinion, if they do not want any type of deal making, or even discussion of such, they need to put it in black and white.  Deal making is a part of poker and will continue to be until poker is no longer played.  If the WSOP wants to exclude deal making from their events, put that rule in black and white so that the possibility is reduced and next time they can point to xyz rule regarding deal making.

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