The TDA (Tournament Directors Association)

Recently the TDA met in Las Vegas and once again implemented new rules. The goal of the TDA is to standardize poker rules across the globe so that players can go from tournament to tournament and expect the same type of rules. It’s a noble effort, but the dangerous, and inappropriate process in which these rules are instated is what I’d like to cover in this blog.

The current system is to have a large group of tournament directors meet in Las Vegas once a year and vote on a proposed rule change. If a majority is reached, the rule is implemented in the new TDA rules.

The first, and most important problem with this process is that the players in which these rules are being created for, are often not asking for any changes to rules in situations where there isn’t any concern.

A perfect example of this is the last card off the deck rule being changed to the first card off the deck rule. For years, the rule has been that if you are not in your seat by the time the last card is dealt then you have a dead hand. The TDA is now changing this to the first card off the deck.

Is this an issue that players were concerned with? Have you ever heard anyone have a problem or complaint about the last card off the deck rule? I have never ever heard a single person ask for such a change.

So why was it implemented? PokerStars live tournament directors decided to switch to this rule for EPT’s and their global events. Players were NOT happy about it, they were outraged, but accepted the fact that there was nothing they could do about it and it wasn’t important enough to continue to cause a fuss over. When in Rome, you put up with rules even if you think the implementation of those rules was handled irresponsibly.

Again, the players were NOT asking for a change to this rule! It was tournament directors over analyzing simple and effective rules and complicating things for players by tampering with the rules.

The key disconnect here is that the TDA moves along without polling it’s players, the very people these rules are being standardized for. If the PLAYERS aren’t raising concerns about a rule, the TDA should not be looking to fix what isn’t broken.

This isn’t the only rule where the TDA has implemented changes that aren’t player friendly, nor are they rules the players were concerned about. Remember the no talking rule? Which group of players was clamoring to stop players from saying on the river in a heads up pot, “Can you beat two pair bro? I have bottom two but I think you may have a set.” According to the TDA, this isn’t legal. Is this something the players were pushing for? Of course not. This rule was also implemented irresponsibly because players weren’t polled, nor where they asking for this type of talking to be stopped.

The majority of the TDA rules have been well thought out and serve a positive purpose. I do think that tournament director’s who do not agree with certain rule changes should, and do, have every right to use house rules that may not be aligned with TDA rules. They shouldn’t be, and frankly they just aren’t, forced to use all of the TDA rules exactly as written. Any and all card rooms can amend TDA rules at will.

Take the WSOP for example. We are talking about 40+ years of tradition as being the most prestigious poker tournament in the world. They shouldn’t be bound by new rules that aren’t player friendly because a group of tournament directors are imposing their will unsolicited.

Here is a list of rules I’d like to implement for the TDA if you want universal player support:

1. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
2. Only make rule changes based on PLAYER feedback and concerns.
3. Before implementing rule changes, poll the players.