Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My apology for a dealer error last week

At last week's game I committed a dealer error which had significant ramifications. It was a forum post that I read today which caused me to realize that I screwed up last week. My best recollection of the hand was that it went something like this:

Four way limped pot.

I was either the SB or BB, probably the SB.

The other players were Royal, Paul, and Lee.

Flop was J63 two spades.

It checks through to Lee who is last to act.

Lee bets somewhere around 6 into the pot of 8 chips.

I have 25os and call with my gutshot straight draw.

Royal has two crappy spades and he calls as well.

At this point I burn a card and deal Qs as the turn card which would complete Royal's flush. Only after I dealt the turn was it apparent that Paul had not yet acted. He ended up folding.

Dealing the turn card early was a mistake but those happen. What I did was compound that mistake by not following the proper procedure for addressing that situation and that is where the serious error occurred. What I did was leave the second burn card under the pot, I then announced that the queen of spades was in the stub and reshuffled the remaining cards and dealt a new turn card. That turn card ended up being the 4 of diamonds which filled my straight. As first to act I lead out. With approximately 26 chips in the middle I estimate I would have bet about 20. Royal folds. Lee then raised me an amount I don't recall but let's say it is about 50. I recall feeling that he really liked his hand so I went ahead and shoved having him well covered. He insta-called so fast that I momentarily game him credit for 57, he instead turns over 36 for two pair. My hand holds up and I stack Lee for what I recall to be approximately one rack of chips.

What *should* have happened is described in Robert's Rules of Poker, the de facto standard and the rule set in effect for our game.
8. A dealing error for the fourth boardcard is rectified in a manner to least influence the identity of the boardcards that would have been used without the error. The dealer burns and deals what would have been the fifth card in the fourth card’s place. After this round of betting, the dealer reshuffles the deck, including the card that was taken out of play, but not including the burncards or discards. The dealer then cuts the deck and deals the final card without burning a card. ...

This procedure maintains 4/5 of the original board cards which is as close as you can get to what would have happened had the error not occurred. This is also different from how to handle prematurely dealing the flop or river. In each of those cases the board card(s) get reshuffled back in the stub and are re-dealt. I had erroneously used that same procedure on the turn card.

So even though it was an honest mistake I am offering to chop the pot with Lee by crediting him a rack of chips which is the approximate amount that I recall him having in front of him. Though I have no obligation to do so I do not want there to be even the slightest hint of a conflict of interest or of any impropriety. The extremely unique set of circumstances of my procedural error erroneously dealing the gin card which led to me stacking Lee is why I am offering him a rack of chips as resolution for the situation. I take the integrity of the game very seriously and I want to do whatever I can to ensure that the game is on the level. I also want to assure others involved in the game that it I am taking efforts to keep the game square. I hope that my settlement with Lee and my commitment to following established rules and procedures are evidence of my desire to maintain a fair playing field for everyone involved.

Also, Royal, if you would like I will refund you 8 chips to cover your BB and call on the flop. ;)


royalbacon said...

$4! I'll take it.

It's really too bad the new card you brought up didn't make your straight AND my flush. Granted, I don't think there would have been any all-ins as there were, but I would have at least had the win that was so rudely ripped from my grasp.

Marshall said...

I think you covered your side pretty well Marty, I am not sure if a refund is in order, but you covered that aspect as well.

Just don't set the precedent that every time there is a dealer error that people get refunds..

Woodrow said...

Refunds should be settled in racks of your own flesh. I feel like this would cut down on dealing errors dramatically.

Ulfendar said...


Ryan said...


I very much appreciate your integrity, and any settlements you want to offer are between you and the hand participants, but the difference between what you did and what Robert's Rules say, if I understand it correctly, boils down to having a 3/5ths "destined" board as opposed to 4/5ths.

It's cool that we stick to "best preservation of what would have happened" rules where it doesn't drag down the game to do so, but we're also a pretty-well-established "random is random" group at this point. The strict Robert's Rules in these spots, IMHO, were devised to best appease the many superstitious gamblers out there.

While in the moment it can be a punch in the gut (or a random bonus) when a mistake alters the outcome of a hand, I feel like all of our regulars understand that mistakes like this, in the long run, are going to hurt you as often as they are going to help you, that random is random, that mistakes happen, and that you just have to fade it when dealer error results in a gut punch.

In short, while your pursuit of the perfect game is admirable and unparalleled, if I had been involved in the hand, I would decline your offer and move on. I mean, what you did has been our SOP for misdealt turns for as long as we’ve been playing together. You found that it was not in line with Robert's Rules, and you want to make reparations with people in the *most recent* hand where we dealt with dealer error slightly incorrectly (but still fair by "random is random" standards)? What about the previous two years' worth of those errors? Do you owe multiple racks to all of the regulars? Of course not.

Anyway, you all do what you will, but while the dealer error was regrettable--as they always are--they are inevitable, and the procedure used to address is was the "current SOP," and really only objectionable compared to the "correct" way by the superstitious.

Ryan said...

I reread and understand better now that you are saying it's the gin card factor that makes it different for you than the other two years' worth of errors.

I swear there was a hand in April of '07 where this happened, the turn brought the gin card for you, and it cost me 12 racks. Man, that sucked!


Sushi Cowboy said...

Thanks for the comments. Lee spoke with me at poker and said that he had already put the hand behind him. He was so on the fence about accepting the rack that he even flipped a coin to decide whether or not to take it. I think we are both satisfied with the resolution of the issue.

I will also reiterate that there a number of things about the situation which are unique.

* This is completely about the improper procedure for handling a premature turn card not about accidentally dealing the burn card early. If I had accidentally dealt the burn card early and then followed proper procedure then there wouldn't be an issue.

* I went from a substantial underdog with three outs (missing 4s due to Royal's spade draw) to a heavy favorite due to the replacement turn card which shouldn't have been that card. As such Lee's pot equity took a wild swing as compared to a coin flip situation. I will also add that my hand was extremely hidden and that made it harder for Lee to get away form his hand than if a third spade came of the high card on board paired.

* I directly benefited from using the wrong procedure. If I had lost the pot or if two other players were involved then the hand would just be chalked up to dealer/floor error and once the next hand started then the results of that hand would be final. And technically the results of my hand with Lee still are final but I made an offer outside of that.

* It was a significant pot. In theory, an error is an error is an error and all are equally wrong. But the reality of it is that the same mistake that costs someone their buy in is a bigger situation than one which only cost someone a few big blinds.

As the guy who sends out emails, brings the equipment, and takes care of other miscellaneous organizational duties, I hold myself to a certain set of standards regardless of whether or not others expect me to. Part of those standards is to avoid the conflict of interest or even the appearance of conflict of interest. In fact if I had caught my mistake immediately after dealing the turn card and I realized that that was the wrong card I would have folded my hand since the wrong procedure had been followed and I would not want to benefit from that situation. If the pot were between two other people I would not tell someone who had benefited from the mistake to offer chips back to the other player.

It was a completely honest mistake and I could completely justify not offering Lee his money back but since I had the opportunity to correct an procedural error which I caused then I have no qualms with making things right.

I know that there has been some joking around about pots in the past and if anyone has any specific hand similar to my hand with Lee where I did not follow correct procedure I am interested in hearing about it. Again, I'm not talking about making a mistake. Mistakes happen and as long as I'm following correct procedures I'm not losing any sleep over it. There have been times where I've accidentally mucked live hands like I did to Woody over at Joe's place. I felt bad about that but once the accident happened all proper procedures were followed and that's just the way it goes. I've mucked my own hand before and it's just tough cookies.

I know that it may look like I'm taking this incident too seriously and I acknowledge my image/role as the "rules nazi" but I believe that a key component to keeping a nice friendly game nice and friendly is by following established rules and procedures and I'm going to do my part to keep the game running smoothly.

One other point that I wanted to address is the "randomness" of the deck. We have a pretty healthy quotient of math geeks in the game and I think we all have a healthy appreciation of the law of averages. However, procedures for dealing with irregularities have more to do with preventing cheating than preserving any sacred order of the cards. For example, the procedure for an exposed card during the deal is to replace it with what would have been the burn card for the flop. Imagine if the procedure instead was that the dealer fanned the deck and the player with the exposed card could choose any card that he wanted as the replacement and then that player ended up with pocket Aces. With completely identical card backs that is still a completely random card but that incident could give the other players concerns about the legitimacy of the game. Following standard procedures could still give that player pocket Aces but at least the other players would not have the same concerns that there are marked cards in play.

Again, my apologies to everyone involved in the hand. I hope that I have made things right as much as possible and that everyone understands the rationale behind my actions.

Brant said...

Human error, nuff said. I was on the other end of a dealer error, Martin saved my entire stack by mucking my hand against marshall. I had top-top and was going all the way against marshall's made boat(I believe I was drawing dead) with at least one other in the pot. I looked down and my cards and single ship protector were gone, collected and in the muck. third hand folds and Marsh shows the elephantine NUTS, there was some discussion but it all comes down to NOT being a robot (even though Marty's "that what she said" jokes are robotic in nature. I lost whatever I had put in the pot +1 with the card protector but was spared my entire stack. Marsh, I recall was upset for about 12 seconds knowing that he just lost the opportunity to take everything I had and possibly the person behind who may have been priced in if I was to go all in as well. I felt bad for MArsh but we accept that there are mistakes. Martin, I've never questioned your integrity, in fact, playing in TNP for the last year has reinforced the idea in my head that our game is of a higher integrity than any I've played in before.

now, misdeals on the other hand, are grounds for torture...