Thursday, August 16, 2012

Stupid rule

I was playing at Mandalay Bay tonight. Over time, one just comes to accept that MB has a bunch of bizarre house rules that don't make any sense. I thought I had heard them all (and documented them all in these pages as I encountered them). Nope. Tonight I learned of one that had previously escaped my notice.

I was in seat 6. During a hand in which the button was on seat 7, the guy in seat 1, having just taken an ugly beat, stormed away from the table with his few remaining chips. Nobody else had requested a seat change, so I moved to 1. Next hand, the button is on seat 8, seats 9 and 10 are the blinds, and I am under the gun. As he started dealing, the dealer said something about putting out $2. I wasn't completely sure he was talking to me, and assumed that if he were, he was simply mistaken. I.e., he had erroneously thought I was the big blind, or failed to notice the direction around the table that I had moved. So I didn't do anything.

As he delivered my second card, he more pointedly said, "You need to post because you changed seats." I pointed out that I was moving toward the blinds, not away from them; i.e., I would be paying the blinds sooner than I would have if I had stayed put (on the next hand, in fact). He insisted that that was their house rule--moving past more than two other players required posting, no matter which direction one moved.

Even if the dealer were correct about this being a house rule, he should have given me the option to post or wait one hand for the big blind. (I would have chosen the latter, of course.) But now that the situation was upon us, I didn't want to slow down the game for everybody else by asking for the floor person to come over and address the issue, so I just tossed in the $2 then folded my crappy cards after somebody raised. As poker room annoyances go, this one merited one roll of the eyes, but nothing more dramatic than that.

The usual rule in Vegas poker rooms is that if you move past one or two players in either direction, it's a freebie. If you move past more than two players in the direction that delays when you will pay your next set of blinds, then you have to post the equivalent of the big blind, or wait until the big blind comes around to you. But if you move into the blinds, so that you will be paying them sooner than you otherwise would have, no posting is required. I have never before encountered a situation in which moving towards the blinds requires early posting.

An hour or so later as I was leaving, I pulled the shift supervisor aside to ask if the dealer had been correct. She confirmed that he had been; their house rule is that one must post the big blind (or wait for it), no matter which direction one moves, if it is more than two seats. I suggested to her that this was non-standard and probably unique among Vegas poker rooms. She allowed as how that was probably true.

Upon arriving home, I checked my rule books and confirmed that it is indeed non-standard. Here's Lou Krieger and Sheree Bykofsky, The Rules of Poker (Lyle Stuart, 2006), pp. 32-33:
For moving counterclockwise (toward the blinds and against the flow of the dealer button), jumping over intermediate players to the new seat: There is no penalty for changing seats and the player who moves is entitled to receive a hand immediately.

For moving clockwise (away from the blinds and in the same direction as the flow of the dealer button): The player is required to sit out a number of hands equal to the number of players jumped over during the move.... If the player does not wish to wait out any hands, he may be dealt in immediately, provided he posts the big blind in his new seat.
Maybe some day somebody will explain to me why Mandalay Bay is such a maverick about idiosyncratic house rules. I really don't get what it is about the culture of that poker room that causes it to go against the grain on so many things. In almost every instance, the weird rule that they come up with is clearly, demonstrably worse than the standard practice everywhere else.* In this case, the standard rule about posting when moving away from the blinds exists to prevent nits from seat hopping frequently to avoid paying the blinds. (If you doubt that such uber-nits exist, you have not spent much time in Vegas casinos.) No comparable purpose is served by imposing the same requirement on a player moving the opposite direction. It's just stupid.

*The one exception is how they handle must-move games, which I discussed here. It is perfect, and is a system that should be imitated by all other poker rooms.

1 comment:

Memphis MOJO said...

One of the casinos I used to play in (in Tunica) had some unusual rules for no good reason. I won't go into detail except to say their attendance kept going down. Not sure why this doesn't happen in MB. There's no sense in making rules that piss off players. Just bad business.