Saturday, May 03, 2008

Touching all the bases

Yesterday I saw this one-minute clip from ABC's "Good Morning, America": You can also read the story and see a longer video feature about it here. In brief, at the end of a college softball game, a player hit the game-winning home run over the fence, but tore a ligament in her knee going around first base, and couldn't complete the circuit. Umpires informed the team that if her teammates helped her, the home run would be voided. So two players from the opposing team carried her around the bases, thus making the run count, but losing the game for their team.

Predictably, these two young women are being lauded as the epitome of sportsmanship, and the video is played with swelling violin music, blah, blah, blah.

I'm not so sure.

The news story mentions something about the coach having been about to send in a pinch runner. I don't know the rules, so maybe that would be legal, in which case scoring the run for the team was inevitable, one way or another. (If that's so, then it greatly reduces the sacrificial nature of the opposing player's gesture, which is being touted as so grandly heroic.) But for the sake of argument, let's assume a situation in which that can't be done--the player hitting the ball has to personally make it around the bases, or the run doesn't count. Should members of the other team help her do it?

On the one hand, you could say, "Well, she hit the ball over the fence, she deserves the home run, and touching the bases is merely a symbolic formality." That seems to be the prevailing attitude, judging by reactions to this week's story.

But the rules don't say that hitting the ball over the fence scores a home run. They say that such a hit followed by a trip around the bases is what constitutes a home run. Yes, the hit is the hard part and the circuit the easy part (at least usually), but they are both essential ingredients, as the rules stand. Suppose that instead of injuring a knee, the player in question had suffered a fatal heart attack halfway around. Would the opposing teammates carry her corpse the rest of the way? Should it count if they did? There have certainly been home runs invalidated because the hitter subsequently failed to touch all of the bases, often because teammates gather around home plate for congratulations, and the batter never touches down there.

Consider another parallel from golf. On several occasions, big-name professionals have been disqualified after winning (or placing highly) in matches because they sign a scorecard that contains an error, or two players accidentally sign each other's cards. See, e.g., here. In the most famous such instance, Roberto DeVicenzo missed out on a playoff to settle a tie for first place because he signed a scorecard containing an error that put his score one shot too high, which then had to stand. He famously commented, "What a stupid I am!" (See here.) Playing a winning round of golf is the hard part, signing a correct scorecard the easy part. But you have to do both in order to pick up the trophy and the check. Them's just the rules. You might argue for changing them, but do you really want to take the position that the rules, while in place, should be disregarded?

Yeah, I'm getting to the poker part.

I've seen many cases in which the player with the winning hand does not get or is in danger of not getting the pot because of some smaller part of the process that he did wrong or failed to do.

Stories #1 and #2

Lee Jones told two such stories in an interesting recent column for Card Player magazine, which, if this general subject interests you, you should read here. Here they are:

• You're in a cash limit hold'em game. Two players are involved in a pot.
They get to the river and there's a showdown. Player A turns up a pocket pair of
nines. Player B shows and tables a single 10 and tosses his other card into the
muck. There's a 10 on the board, so Player B has a pair of tens. Where do you
push the pot? We all know the official rule, the TDA (Tournament Director's
Association) rule, and so on: Player A has a complete hand, Player B's hand is
dead, Player A wins the pot. But we also know that Player B has the best hand.
We could let Player A go through the deck and pick another card for Player B,
and he (Player A) still couldn't win the pot. Now, let's suppose it's obvious to
everybody within a 10-meter radius that Player B is a novice and doesn't know
this rule - that he comes from a home-game environment and/or has never
encountered this situation in casino game before.

Well, years ago, I was a table captain and a rules lawyer. I can produce a
dozen sober witnesses (and scores of non-sober ones) to verify this fact. But
I've changed my tune. I think you give the pot (and a warning) to Player B and
his pair of tens. You don't want to create an upset novice who's likely to walk
out and never come back. By the way, I saw this exact scene in a European casino
recently. The dealer, correctly, called the floorman, who did what I thought was
a very wise thing: He said to Player A, "Look, he's got the best hand, so give
him the pot." Player A hemmed and hawed, but ultimately did the right thing and
told Player B to take the pot. Then, the floorman explained to Player B very
clearly that he was being given a gift. That, in my opinion, is good for the

• I was in a cash limit hold'em game in a European casino. I got involved
in a pot with another guy, on whom I had position. On the river, he checked. I
turned up my hand. My opponent misread my hand, thinking I had a straight. He
tossed his hand facedown in front of him, and it passed over the betting line
that you see on many poker tables in Europe. His cards were, however, a couple
of feet from the muck (we were in the No. 2 and No. 3 seats). Then he looked
again and realized that I had only a pair and a missed gutshot. He turned up and
tabled his hand - trips. The dealer reached out and mucked his hand. In her
opinion (and this may have been house policy, I don't know), his hand was dead -
as it had gone facedown across the betting line. I said, "Give the man the pot -
he's got the best hand." The dealer looked at me quizzically and glared at my
opponent. "Really - he's got trips, and I've got one pair; he gets the pot." She
looked askance at us both and pushed him the pot.

This and the previous ruling are no-brainers. You have to have a really
good reason to give the pot to anything except the best hand. I think that means
that you must suspect fraud, foul play, or, at the least, severe angle shooting
to do otherwise.

I certainly see his point, and he makes it well. I can't say that he's wrong. But I don't know that he's right, either. I'm still more in the "rules lawyer" state. Maybe I'll change with time, as Jones says he did.

Story #3

Consider this story, as recently told here:

This was at a $1/$2 no limit game.

I was in midpostion with Ace Hearts Queen of clubs and 2 had already
limped. I raise it to $10. The button called as did the Small Blind. The 2 other
limpers and BB all folded.

Flop was Queen of hearts 5 of clubs 6 of clubs.

I bet $30. button folds and small blind calls. Turn was a 4 of clubs.

She checks, I check behind her. River was a 3 of clubs.

She bets out $12. At this point I know I am beat but making the crying call
anyways. I flip over both my cards and say I have the queen high flush. I ask
her do you have the straight flush or just the ace high? She flips over her 2 of
clubs, for the straight flush. very nice straight flush. She then tosses her 2nd
card into the muck face down and the dealer ships her the pot. I pipe up and say
"Dude, she just mucked her hand." The dealers eyes got huge as he realized she
did and he had pushed the pot her way.

There was an akward pause at the table.

I said "All I really want to know is what your 2nd car was miss? Please
be honest." She says it was the 3 of hearts. So I said you caught the straight
on the turn then. Yet, I have one more question. Why did you call my raise to
$10 with 2/3 off? Her answer "because I was in the (small) blind." Yikes.

So when I told this story to a few of my friends they had differnt

I had a couple tell me I was wrong to ask her what her 2nd card was,
that she showed me she had me beat and I had lost.

Yet others said, they would have brought the floor over and that $100+
pot would have been theirs/mine as it were.

In my reply, I said:

Mucking one card is effectively the same as mucking both of them. I don't
think there's anything wrong with asking what her other card was, though I don't
think either the question or answer changes anything. If I had the Q-high flush
there, I'd take the pot and not feel a bit guilty about it. A flush beats a dead
hand any day of the week.

I'm sure Lee Jones would disagree, as did others in the discussion. And maybe they're right. I don't know.

The rest of the cases below are stories I've told before, so rather than re-tell them, I'll just insert links to the original posts.

Story #4

See here. The more liberal, Lee Jones, best-hand-takes-the-pot-regardless-of-technicalities argument says that my opponent gets the money because he had the best hand. The alternative viewpoint is that he didn't protect his hand as he was obligated by the rules to do, and thus forfeited his rights to it.

Story #5

See what I labeled "Story #1" here. In theory, the casino staff could have gone out of their way to find the guy who had had the best hand, but after he had walked away from the table, is that really their job? Here I support them having awarded it to the second-best hand. The erstwhile winner had done the hard part of the job by having the best hand, but failed to do the easy part, which was staying put until the hand was over, and that negligence cost him the pot. See also the addendum to that post for a similar story that a reader emailed to me.

Story #6

See here. I don't recall whether the Floridian's cards were identifiable/retrievable from the muck, or so thoroughly mixed in that they couldn't be pulled out again. But suppose for the moment that the dealer had simply placed them on top of the muck, so that they could be easily recovered. Should they be? Should he be given the chance to show that he had the best hand, as he claimed, and thereby win the pot? I think Jones would argue yes, since there was no attempt at either cheating or severe angle-shooting going on, just an honest mistake.

Story #7

See the second story, the one from the Hilton, here. This wasn't quite a question of who got the pot, but it was along the same lines in that it involved a question of whether to enforce the rules strictly versus giving a break to somebody who acted unintentionally.

Story #8

See the third story, the one from the Orleans, here. In this case it didn't matter, because the hand that accidentally landed face-down on top of the muck wasn't the winner. But suppose it had been. Should he get the pot, on the view that he didn't deliberately throw his hand away, or should he forfeit it, on the grounds that he didn't table his cards in the manner the rules prescribe (i.e., face up, and not in the muck)?

Story #9

See "The Undead Hand" here. Should cards off the table before everybody sees them be grounds for forfeiting a pot that one would otherwise win (or share)?

In each of the cases I've witnessed personally, I have been and remain in favor of the more strict/legalistic reading and enforcement of the rules, what Jones called the "rules lawyer" approach. This isn't because I want to punish people for inadvertant mistakes. Rather, it's because I don't trust either myself or poker room staff to be able to reliably distinguish between innocent mistakes and deliberate angle-shooting. The easiest way to be fair is to strictly enforce all of the rules all of the time. (Granted, there are situations that no set of written rules anticipates, and judgment calls have to be made. I'm talking about situations where a rule clearly pertains, but may be harsh in its consequentes.) I can't think of a case in which I have asked for, needed, or been given the "benefit of the doubt" when I've screwed something up at the poker table.

I just don't think it's asking too much of players to perform the simple act of turning both cards face up, without putting them in the muck or tossing them off of the table, and to speak up quickly if the dealer accidentally kills their winning hand.

Still, I have nagging doubts about whether this approach is actually right and/or best for the game in the long run. Jones's column has amplified my discomfiture.

Ron Paul on the UIGEA

Do not miss the exclusive interview with Ron Paul about the UIGEA posted a short time ago at Card Player's web site, here.

Obviously, I agree with nearly everything he has to say on the subject. But I did have one significant difference of opinion, regarding this portion of the interview:

CP: What should be done about Internet gambling in America?

RP: I think we should just take a hands-off position. I don’t think the
government should be involved in any way at all. If I take a personal viewpoint
that gambling is bad and I don’t like it, the way I should attack that is that I
personally should avoid doing it and teach my kids the way I think they should
act. But I don’t want the government coming in and doing this.

CP: Not even at a state level?

RP: Well, at a state level there are no prohibitions to [regulate] it. If I
were a state legislator, I would probably argue against just about all that
regulation, and taxing, as well. But as a federal official, I have to no
authority to prohibit states from being involved.

I'm glad that he is a respector of states' rights, but I think he's dead wrong that Congress couldn't stop states from regulating and/or taxing Internet gaming. Isn't that pretty clearly within congressional authority to regulate interstate commerce and international trade? In fact, Congress has previously acted in exactly this way, prohibiting states from imposing Internet-specific taxes. The primary purpose of the interstate commerce clause in the Constitution is to prevent states from meddling in and gumming up commerce that transpires between states, which surely encompasses money trading hands over the Internet. In my view, Congress could flatly prohibit states from interfering in any way with Internet gaming, and be fully within its rightful constitutional boundaries--and it should do so. (Not that I'm holding my breath expecting it to happen....)

Many thanks to Bob Pajich at Card Player for getting Rep. Paul to open up on this topic.

More problem's with apostrophe's

You'll need to click on the image above to enlarge it enough to read. It's taken from page 30 of the current issue of Card Player magazine.

The book featured is titled Confessions of a Poker Dealer: A Short History of Poker Played in Casino's Since the Late 1970's. I see from that it was released in December, 2007, and is apparently from a vanity press. That would explain the lack of an editor to catch typographical errors in the title, on the cover! That's something I don't think I've seen before.

But then Card Player repeats the error in its accompanying text. Look on the second line, where it says "the way casino's robbed poker players." Strangely, though, casinos appears correctly in the first line. Furthermore, Card Player has correctly rendered the various decades, e.g., 1970s, rather than 1970's, as the book's title erroneously has it.

The paragraph of text, however, was not written by anybody at Card Player, as far as I can tell. The same text appears as the "product description" on, suggesting that it was written by the book's author. Card Player did manage to clean up most of the typos that appear on they let that one instance of casino's through, for some unknown reason.

Of course, they wouldn't have had to deal with that problem if they had written original text to describe the book, rather than taking the publisher's description and trying to pass it off as if it were their own. Bad as it is for a respectable periodical to make the plural of casino with an apostrophe, plagiarism is a greater offense.

At least the title is honest about one thing: "Short"--according to, 48 pages short. For $15. I can't imagine that it would be worth it, especially since it's likely that the entire book is as badly written/edited as the front cover.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Rio rumor

Playing at the Rio this afternoon, I heard a dealer telling another player that after this year's WSOP, they will be closing the Rio bowling alley and moving the poker room into that space.

Remember, if it turns out to be true, you heard it here first. If it turns out to be false, well, I can hardly be blamed for that, can I?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New poker room at Sam's Town

As I was leaving Sam's Town after the movie today, I noticed that the poker room has moved. It's just across the hall from the old location, but now open to the rest of the casino, rather than being mostly closed off. As regular readers will anticipate, I strongly dislike it when casinos make this move, because I so dislike noise and smoke. But the new room otherwise looks more nicely appointed than the old, and much less crowded. I didn't stop to play, so a full review will have to wait for another day. For now, you can at least see some blurry, low-resolution photos of the place.

What's the deal with "Deal"?

My occasionally spacey sister left some of her clothes in a drawer in her hotel room at Sam's Town last week. Housekeeping found them for her, and today I had to go pick them up so I can mail them to her. I had noticed in the local movie listings that the newest poker movie, Deal, directed by Gil Cates, Jr., was showing at only two places, and one of them was the cinemaplex at Sam's Town. It seemed like destiny. So I went to the 3:00 showing. At 2:55, I was the only one in the theater. It would have been an unprecedented experience to see a movie in a theater completely alone, but five other people came in at the last minute to ruin the opportunity.

I was prepared to hate this film. I even posted last fall that it was probably going to suck. The initial reviews have been far from kind; Wicked Chops Poker quoted these review snippets:
"Deal has to take the title of the worst film ever about the game and that
includes the how-to videos with Joan Rivers impersonators you see in your Vegas
hotel room." - Erik Childress,
of the most cliche-ridden and generally misguided films of not just the year,
but the decade so far." - Brian Tallerico,
Gil Cates Jr. gives us a by-the-numbers execution of a by-the-numbers story,
which would barely be movie-of-the-week material but for Reynolds's 'star
power.'" - LA
City Beat

"A poker movie that has the dubious honor of being even worse
than Lucky You." - Gary Thompson (but not the Gary Thompson?), Philadelphia
Daily News

In a later post, the same site noted that the film had received a perfect 0% on (i.e., not a single good review), which doesn't happen too often. Similarly, I see that finds an average review score of 35/100, and not a single one better than 50 (see here).

So, like I said, I was prepared to hate it. After all, I've hated most of the poker movies I've posted about here (click the "movies" label at the end of this post or along the left-hand margin to see them all), and griping about things that I don't like or that are just plain bad is, well, it's kind of my whole schtick here, y'know?

But I have to say--it wasn't all that bad.

Sure, it managed to pull together every cliche you might imagine--the hooker with the heart of gold, the washed-up, has-been poker great of yesteryear trying to mount a comeback, the brash, young internet poker whiz who has to learn about live poker tells and whose family disapproves of his playing, the inevitable teacher-versus-student finale for the championship, etc. Also, it definitely takes a while to get going. You can see the "surprise" ending coming from a mile away (especially if you've seen Lucky You, which should sue for plagiarism). And nobody's going to be winning any Oscars for this baby. I could also note the oddity of the World Poker Tour suddenly being broadcast live, and with Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten doing commentary all the way through, rather than just at the final table. Also, there are small poker continuity problems, such as the community cards being swept away at the end of a hand not being the same ones that were shown in close-up as the hand progressed.

But on the positive side, the soundtrack was pretty enjoyable (including tracks from Delbert McClinton and Lorrie Morgan), and you get to see Shannon Elizabeth in her underwear. (Her part, incidentally, is so insignificant that it could have been edited out without disturbing the plot--except that then we'd miss out on seeing her in her unders.) Phil Laak and Antonio Esfandiari play themselves, and do very well. That sounds like it should be a laugh line, but it's not. The pros playing themselves in most other poker movies come off far stiffer and more uncomfortable than they are in real life, but Phil and Antonio look, sound, and act just like they do everywhere else you've seen them--relaxed and funny. Most importantly, the poker itself doesn't suck, and there's a lot of it, neither of which could be said about many so-called poker movies.

I particularly liked the one truly surprising aspect of the big showdown at the end--the way that the Burt Reynolds character adjusts for the fact that his protege has apparently picked up on a tell that he has. It's daring, brilliant, dramatic, and even plausible, given the circumstances. (Which is why I'm not going to tell you what it is here.)

I suppose that overall it's somewhat duller than Lucky You, with fewer characters and fewer diversions from the main plot, but it also avoids most of the things that drove me crazy about Lucky You (getting poker stuff wrong, relationships that don't make sense, unlikeable main characters).

I think the movie's strengths and weaknesses are summed up best in this paragraph from the review that Wesley Morris wrote for the Boston Globe:
But "Deal" doesn't really care about the characters as much as it does the
World Poker Championships, where Tommy and Alex end up. Once we get there the
movie becomes interesting because Cates understands the game and its dramas a
lot better than he understands people and theirs.

Incidentally, I saw previews for two non-poker-related movies that both look excellent: Hamlet 2, a comedy, and American Teen, a documentary.

The Grump pwns a blogament (well, almost)

There seem to be all sorts of semi-private tournaments for poker bloggers these days. I don't enter many of them, because, as you know, online poker isn't really my thing, nor are multi-table tournaments. (I think single-table tournaments suit me better, as a general rule.) But once in a while I dip my toe into the water. With the blogaments, it's a good way to rub virtual elbows with other poker bloggers, learn about some blogs I haven't read before, tell a few of them about mine, etc.

Bodog has been running a series of $10 tourneys just for poker bloggers on Tuesday nights that will culminate in a World Series seat for the overall winner. (See here for details.) I'm not seriously trying for that, but this is the second time I've entered one of the weekly events. As you can see from the above, I entered the final table in second chip position, and finished third, which isn't too bad--much better than my usual performance in such things, and easily the best I've done in a bloggers-only event (which is why I'm posting about it).

Of course, I had to pull three all-in suckouts to make it (my 10-10 vs. A-A, my A-10 vs. 10-10, and my A-5 vs. A-K [but they were sooooted!]). I have a feeling that there are three poker bloggers out there right this minute writing bad-beat posts about the idiot that knocked them out of the tournament. On the other hand, I was also on the receiving end of a few similar situations (e.g., my J-J vs. A-10). So it all washes out in the end, more or less.

The other blogament choice tonight was part of the "skill series" on Full Tilt, but the event was Stud high, which I've never played before. Given how much I've been focusing on razz for my online poker lately, I thought it was pretty likely that I'd keep trying for hands like A-2-3-6-7, and think I was golden. Which might not work so well in straight stud.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Grump makes it onto televised poker for the first time

Yes, it's true, I've finally hit the big time. The world of television poker couldn't ignore me forever, and today was the day they finally spotted me.

Here's a shot from today's broadcast of the 2008 NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship:

What? You don't see me?

Here, let me help a little:

There. Is that better?

It's probably a bit hard to recognize me because at that very moment I was taking this photo for you, my loyal readers.

But never fear. The NBC cameras were not done with me. Here I am again:

Huh? Still having some difficulty seeing me?

Do not adjust your set. I can help again:

There ya go.

Once again, they caught me while I was working for all of you. I was in the midst of shooting this video of the big moment.

See? For you, my readers, I sacrified my moment in the sun and nationwide recognition, diligently keeping my camera to my face, so that you could get an advance look at the goings-on at Caesars Palace that day.

Has any blogger ever done so much for you?

My #1 online poker pet peeve

Lots and lots of things annoy me about online poker--see here and here just for starters. But in reflecting on the situation, it's probably not fair to lump them all together as I have, without differentiating between them, because some irritants are definitely worse than others.

Hands down, the most annoying online sin is the player who chronically, repeatedly slows down the game. I mean, one of the chief advantages of online poker over live poker is that you can play so many more hands per hour, and when one or more morons at the table take the maximum time allotted every time the action gets to them, it kills that quality.

Most often these slowpokes just aren't paying attention to the game. This could be because they're drunk or stoned, or playing on more tables at once than they can effectively keep up with, or because they're simultaneously doing email or web surfing, cooking, or whatever.

As a typical example, the other day I chided a guy for holding up the show every time it was his turn. His explanation was that he's a single father of three young children, and was having to change a diaper and fix the kids' dinner while he played. (Never mind the "Ewwwwww" factor of combining those two activities.) He genuinely thought this was a perfectly legitimate reason for making everybody wait for him every time around. I suggested that perhaps he could find a better time to play poker than when family responsibilities were his primary focus.

Some people just can't grasp the concept that it's simply rude to make seven or more other people wait for you, time after time, because you're too busy doing something other than paying attention to the game. For most of these knuckleheads, most of the time, it's simple selfishness and a wholesale lack of consideration for others.

But of all of the causes of delays, the one that chaps me the most is the people who chat when it's their turn to play. Here are a few examples I've been collecting over the last several days, all from razz games (which is what I've spent most of my online time with lately) on Poker Stars, but you could pick any game on any site and find comparable offenses.

Dealer: ericg512, it's your turn. You have 15 seconds to act
ericg512: this is a bad call but gh sleepy
Dealer: sleepywag has Lo: 6,5,4,3,2
Dealer: Game #16599398639: sleepywag wins pot ($16.40) with Lo:

Notice that ericg512 used up most of his time allotment typing in his observation about what a bad call he was making. This requires either a massively overinflated ego, or a pathetically fragile one, and it's not always easy to tell which is at work. Arguing for the former is that he apparently thinks that one or more other players at the table care about his assessment of the situation sufficiently that they're willing to wait while he types it in. How self-absorbed is that??? Arguing for the weak ego is the inference that he cares deeply what the other players think of him--heaven forbid that he should make a bad call without having announced in advance that he knew it was bad. Of course, it's arguable whether it's more stupid to make a bad call knowing that it's bad, or make it without knowing that it's bad. But either way, I can't fathom why he cares what the other players think of him. If he's a bad player, they'll figure it out no matter what. If he's not, but they think he's bad, isn't that an advantage for him? Either way, it's just incredibly stupid to care whether a handful of strangers scattered around the globe think your play on one hand of poker was good or bad.

JJ_Grunt: who cried?
ishouldcallU: play some cards you need people to put there money in when they are behind
Dealer: ishouldcallU, it's your turn. You have 15 seconds to act

Very typical situation here. ishouldcallU decides he needs to weigh in on the discussion occurring about the previous hand, and doesn't care that it's his turn. He needs to get his opinion out into the world right this instant! It's so vitally important that he can't possibly wait until after he takes his turn to finish composing his little gem of wisdom and share it with everybody. Who cares that the whole table is sitting around waiting for him?

P0K3R HUSTLE: weak flush draw?
P0K3R HUSTLE: i'll go with ya

P0K3R HUSTLE: i know im fcked
P0K3R HUSTLE: oh well

P0K3R HUSTLE: no way you will beat me
P0K3R HUSTLE: no frickin way
Dealer: P0K3R HUSTLE has 15 seconds left to act
P0K3R HUSTLE: fck it

As you can see, this guy was a repeat offender. Again the ego thing--he clearly was so delusional that he believed the other seven players were dying of curiosity to know his thought processes behind every significant decision he had to make. If it slowed down the game, well, that's a small price to pay for allowing his legions of adoring fans to see what he was thinking at every critical juncture. The truth is, pal, nobody gives a rat's ass what you're thinking, or why you're making the plays. If you imagine otherwise (as you clearly do), well, you're psychotic. Get help.

XSeditX: i give u that
Dealer: kanonk, it's your turn. You have 15 seconds to act
kanonk: but It may not be the most profitable raise, I agree

Dealer: XSeditX, it's your turn. You have 15 seconds to act
XSeditX: i dont know my odds in this game like u kononk but i have a very good idea when im ahead and how far head/behind

Again, nothing special here--just two more examples of the all-too-common phenomenon of players engaging in otherwise harmless (though fairly mindless) chat--just at the wrong time. There's no reason to make the whole table wait while you type in your thoughts, when you could just as easily take your turn, then finish typing. It's just plain rude to plow ahead with chatting instead of first moving the game along.

RatMal: No walk??
Dealer: RatMal, it's your turn. You have 15 seconds to act

Here, I was to the right of the bring-in. I had three low cards, and everybody folded to me. Naturally, I raised. RatMal couldn't just fold and move on. No. He had to try to engage in dialogue (or perhaps a monologue) about the situation. Was this just a complaint? If so, it's a pretty stupid one, and one that could have been registered just as well after the hand was over. Was he seriously trying to start a conversation? If so, what could he possibly expect me to say? What could he possibly expect me to do--take back the raise? No matter which way you look at it, it was just stupid and rude to hold things up in this way. Yes, here it was just a few seconds, but this kind of thing happens over and over and over again, and those delays add up to games often getting in only half of the hands per hour that they could if everybody paid attention and kept things moving.

RatMal: I luv this king...
Dealer: RatMal, it's your turn. You have 15 seconds to act

Here's Mr. RatMal again. This time, he decided to make this astute and important observation before posting the bring-in that was required of him--because, obviously, he sensed that the rest of us were far more interested in his hilarious remark than we were in getting on with playing the hand. Egotistical jerk.

Dealer: RatMal, it's your turn. You have 15 seconds to act
RatMal: A rough ten..

Yep, it's RatMal yet again. (You see how the players that do this tend to be chronic offenders.) This time, he thought it was important that we all understand what hand he was folding before he clicked the "fold" button. Because, of course, all seven opponents around the world were simultaneously obsessing on just one thought: "What could RatMal possibly be holding here?" Whew--good thing he somehow knew that we were all eagerly awaiting his announcement, as if watching for the white smoke to come from the Vatican's chimney, and relieved our collective tension with the vital news. Information that crucial just can't wait until after one has clicked the "fold" button, you know.

Well, I think that's enough examples to make the point. There are virtually no situations in which it is worth eating up the time of seven or more other people while you pontificate (oooo--there's an unintended but interesting juxtaposition, using the Vatican chimney analogy in the previous paragraph, then the word "pontificate" here!) on what your cards are (which, by the way, is against the rules anyway, unless you're the last one with a possible decision to make in the hand), what you're thinking, why you're choosing the action you're taking, or continuing whatever inane conversation is in progress. In essentially every case, the rest of us will thank you to follow this simple guideline: Take your turn first, then chat to your heart's content while others take their turns.

Or is that just too much to ask?