We who play tournaments are always talking of ways to improve the
tournaments, in order to bring in new players and maybe someday
attract some mainstream media attention--and possibly the biggest task
of all, to get some corporate sponsorship.
That last task in my opinion is a Herculean one. I hope that someday
someone will be willing to devote the effort and resources to make it
happen. In the meantime, I guess we have to settle for taking baby
steps, maybe changing some little things that will makes tournaments
Obviously, we don't always agree on what makes the tournaments
better, but I personally think that a few of the small changes that have
occurred in the last three or four years have helped tournaments
considerably. I won't go into the changes individually but I'm sure if I
did, most would agree they have generally helped tournaments.
The other day I was playing in a $220 No-limit hold-em tournament and
fortunately played long enough to make the last table. Something
occurred over and over as I made my way through the field. What
occurred was that I witnessed many people going all-in, and as you
might expect almost always in a two-way pot. It is what happened
after someone went all in, that has prompted me to write this particular
You see, on many occasions I witnessed needless questions and delays
in getting to who was the winner of the hand. On a few occasions the
behavior became rude, unethical, and downright mean. Let me give you
some examples of what I mean.
There were several times after two players had their money in, but
before the cards were dealt out, that conversation between the two
players would commence. It usually went something like Player A asks,
"Do you have a pair?'" Player B responds, "Yea." Player A asks, "How
big?" or another variation would be Player A asking, "Do you have a
pair?" Player B, "No, do you?" Player A, "No, do you have big slick?" I
wanted to blurt out, "What the hell is this? Twenty Questions?" I
refrained from saying that because I knew someone was going to be
very unhappy at the end of the hand.
One of the more common statements when someone moved all their
chips in, and was called, was, "You've got me." You have probably
heard it, or maybe you've even said it. Now it wouldn't have been so
bad if those who made that statement ended up losing the pot. Many
times they had pretty good hands--maybe pocket Jacks, up against Ace
King. In fact, four out of seven times that someone who said that,
ended up winning the pot.
On other occasions I saw where nothing was said till after all the cards
were dealt out. The player who was first, hesitated for awhile, then
the player who was last showed down, thinking that the hesitation
meant that the first player was weak. Then the player who should have
shown down first, reluctantly shows the second nuts. You know the
story--the classic slow roll.
I saw one player who was rightly the first to show down, do just that.
The other player looked and looked, then looked some more, and finally
said, "Oh, I almost didn't see it. I made a straight." I wasn't sure
whether he was lying or not, but I do think I noticed his nose grow ever
Another more common incident, which I must admit I do sometime, is
when someone goes all in and is shown the best hand, but not wanting
to overlook a possible winner will hold onto his hand, looking at the
other hand, then the board, then back to the hand. If the hands had
been turned over, he, or I, wouldn't need to check and recheck, because
between the dealer and all the other players it is highly unlikely that the
winning hand would not be recognized.
I happen to spend much of the day at the same table with an
experienced player who I have known for years. We both commented
that it would be nice if players had to turn there hands over every time
someone was all in. It would cut out all the stupid questions, slow rolls
and all the needless time wasted.
I would like to see all tournaments adopt the following policy. "WHEN
ANY PLAYERS GOES ALL IN, AND THERE CAN BE NO FURTHER ACTION,
BOTH OR ALL PLAYERS WILL TURN UP THEIR HANDS, BEFORE ANY OTHER
CARDS ARE DEALT."
All dealers would be instructed not to deal the remaining cards until
both or all hands are turned over.
I would be a little curious to know the reason why the rule to turn over
the all-in hands at the last table was adopted many years ago. I'm sure
part of it was that it got the gallery into it, but if it had anything to do
with making sure all the players were protected, it seems to me that
protection should be afforded to the players at "all" stages of the
Almost every tournament player I have discussed this idea with has
agreed with me. The only disagreement I got was from a couple of
players who thought it would give the other players "a line on their
play." I do agree that they have a point; but while agreeing that they
do, I like to remind those who are afraid of exposing their play that if
someone really wanted to see their hand, all they would have to do is
inform the dealer, "I want to see the other hand." I guess also players
might feel like if this rule were adopted that they might, on occasion, be
a little ashamed or embarrassed by exposing their hand.
I think the bottom line is the benefits of such a rule change, far
outweigh any harmful aspects that it might produce. I think it would be
yet another small safeguard against possible dishonesty, cut out all the
game playing and stalling with "who turns over first", and generally
speed up the tournament. It will even help entertain the players and
What have we got to lose? I think the large majority of players would
like it. Let's give it a try. I'm betting we'll wonder why we didn't do it
For what it's worth ...
Let's Turn 'Em Over
By Vince Burgio