Tournament staff are a lot like sports referees: when they do their jobs properly they go unnoticed. It's a bit unfair to focus on their mistakes, but I'm going to do it anyway. Here are the 5 worst decisions ever made by tournament staff in televised tournaments.
Before we get into this article let’s give a big collective ‘thank you’ to all the men and women who make poker tournaments possible. Without tournament staff we’d all just be sitting around oval tables staring at each other. In a way, tournament staff are a lot like sports referees or officials, meaning that when they are doing their job best they go unnoticed. We really only notice them when they fuck up, so it’s a bit unfair to focus heavily on their mistakes. But that being said, we’re going to do exactly that. Here are 5 cases when tournament staff really screwed up and jeopardized the integrity of the game.
Brandon Cantu Gets Pump-Faked
I can watch this video ten million times and never understand how Losev got away with this action. Pushing his chips forward and then pulling them back not only violates the rules of poker, the spirit of fair competition and basic logic, but it is also simply a dirty and disgusting tactic that should be given no leniency, especially in a tournament as huge as the World Series of Poker. What’s even worse is that there are several witnesses at the table who clearly report the situation to the tournament officials. There is no universe where Losev’s actions are acceptable.
It Pays To Have Friends In High Places
Speaking of unacceptable behavior. Phil Hellmuth is a legendary asshole who constantly displays little to no class at the poker table. This is one of many documented occasions when he stepped way out of line and committed actions that would get a non-famous player in deep trouble. Allegedly, after this video ends Hellmuth is issued a one round penalty by tournament staff to be served the following day (this was the final hand of the day). However, somehow the penalty was overturned before play began the next day and Hellmuth was allowed to continue without punishment. There’s no telling for sure if Hellmuth’s rumored close friendship with WSOP tournament director Jack Effel had anything to do with this, but that is exactly what it looks like.
The Will Kassouf Experience
Hypocrisy alert! When you consider all of the nonsense that the WSOP has allowed Hellmuth to get away with over the years, the treatment of Kassouf during the 2016 WSOP Main Event is quite shocking. Sure, he’s a bit annoying, but he never once insulted or harassed anyone and always kept his actions in line with the rules of the tournament. Unfortunately for him, the mob mentality as well as TD Jack Effel’s failure to understand the rules of his own tournament led to Kassouf receiving a one orbit penalty for simply talking during a hand. What’s worse is that he continued to be harassed by tournament staff throughout the tournament, even at times of key decisions.
Prahlat Friedman Dodges A Bullet
Watch this video and tell me that he doesn’t clearly say ‘I call’ before the clock counts down. I’m inclined to believe that this is simply a case of the tournament staff not hearing properly due to background noises which are filtered out on the television broadcast, but it’s still quite shocking. Especially when you consider the reactions of the players at the table. They clearly heard him say ‘I call’ and so maybe the tournament staff should have as well. My favorite part is the look on Friedman’s face as the other players are pleading with the tournament staff. He knows he called, he knows he should be out of the tournament and he knows that all he can do is sit there with his mouth shut and hope the right people don’t notice.
Gail Baumann Gets Robbed
By far the biggest crime on this list. Koroknai goes all-in and then mucks his hand before Baumann can call with KK. Tournament staff decide that he’s not liable for the all-in, which is ridiculous considering the loophole that such a ruling could create. A player could theortically go all-in as a bluff and then when it looks like his opponent is about to call, could then muck their hand and not be liable for the chips. This is an absolutely ridiculous ruling which compromises the integrity of the game. Also, to make matters worse, Koroknai goes on to eliminate Baumann later in this tournament. So brutal.
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