The 2022 Tournament Directors Association’s newly released rules and recommended procedures don’t include many earth-shattering changes, but the group did address one controversial topic: stalling.
Back in July, the TDA had its annual Summit in Las Vegas to discuss and debate tournament rule changes for the following year. Industry leaders such as Matt Savage, the TDA’s founder, Poker Hall of Famers Jan Fisher and Linda Johnson, among others, came up with a number of changes to how tournament directors around the world should run a poker tournament.
One of the many interesting changes made to the TDA’s rulebook include Rule #10A: “New players entering the tournament and players from broken tables can get any seat including the small or big blind or the button and be dealt in except between the SB and button.”
Rule #35E (Fouled decks) now states: “If two or more cards of the same suit and rank are found, the deck is fouled. Other fouled deck conditions may be defined by local gaming regulators and house policy.”
In Section 39, the TDA group addressed the issue of what to do when irregular flops or premature cards are dealt. For example, if the dealer accidentally deals four cards on the flop instead of three. How should the floor staff handle the situation? That answer is in the screenshot below (the red print signifies 2022 changes to the rulebook):
What to Do About Stalling in Tournament Poker
One common strategy on the bubble or approaching massive pay-jumps in many tournaments, especially major events such as the WSOP Main Event, is to tank excessively and hope that players at other tables will bust. This most often occurs with short stacks and players who are just trying to ladder up. But it can frustrate some players who get annoyed with stallers slowing down the pace of play.
Stalling is difficult to regulate without a shot clock, and most tournaments don’t use one. Thus, the TDA can’t force any set rules in this area. But they did make some procedural recommendations for various tournament operators.
“The house should clearly announce intention to reduce stalling so that players understand timely play is expected. It’s recommended that each house establish creative methods for reducing stalling. Some methods successfully used by TDA member houses include: Random table breaks instead of table draws, using fixed # of hands per level, going orbit for orbit, soft hand for hand, and adding a shot clock,” PR-19 states.
Shot clocks are prevalent in high roller events, but aren’t much of a thing in the lower stakes circuit. Perhaps one day that will change, but until then, stalling among short-stacked players trying to ladder up or sneak into the money will continue. However, the recommendations from the TDA should reduce stalling to some extent.