A Man, a Spider, and a Question of Ethics

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Delik James | Poker and Life, Poker Articles

There are a few things I figured out the other night –

The ceiling in my bedroom has 414 of those little paint swirls in it, the wood paneling on the far side of the room has 88 grooves, and a spider, whom I’ve aptly named ‘Toby’ seems to do nothing more that move back and forth from my dresser to the television for hours on end.

All of these facts are useless to me and I honestly had no intention of ever discovering them, least of all my little spidey friend, but a recent discussion with a fellow card player got me thinking…. and thinking, and thinking all night…

The topic of our discussion was about accidentally seeing a card during play – this peek can come from the dealer tossing too high, a player that doesn’t protect their hand, or a slew of differnet happenstances that occur on the felt. There are courses of action to follow if any of these should occur, that is, if you don’t want to kill the deal and start again (the option to redeal is always available). If for example, the player in 3rd position gets a card face-up, dealing continues until finally it is replaced after all the hands have been dealt and the troublesome exposed card becomes the first burn card.

This is all well and good, but not even close to what kept me up all night counting swirls and wood paneling – it was a simple comment from a player that swears he would never admit to seeing a card, something I am soundly against – or so I thought. Although it is unwritten and impossible to enforce – I think it’s the fair and honest thing to do to announce you got a peek. It was the way he worded his position though, “…I use everything to my advantage, that’s my job description…” that made me think twice.

Hmm, maybe he’s right. The job of a card player is infact to use every advantage he/she has to beat their opponent whether it be a tell, knowledge of some personal hindrance (i.e. just broke up with their girlfriend and feeling blue), or strong betting patterns – but what about something so critical as being able to know a card that is out of play? Not every time, but in some percentage of the time, there are so many ways this small factoid can change the play of a hand. This goes against my own personal judgment, but almost makes sense when put just the right way… and what if other players feel the same – would they then have an additional advantage over me if I’m one of the few that does honestly announce accidental peeks?

Much like Toby, creeping  back and forth from dresser to television and back to the dresser, this question stalked me all night, changing my mind, then changing it back. A matter of ethics perhaps or just another piece of useful information? Finally, I had enough and realized that a decision had to be made. Compromise isn’t always pretty, but it is necessary: Dealer’s fault- announce the peek; player’s fault- use the information.

I figure benefiting from a dealer’s mistake endangers my karma, but if my opponent holds those cards just a little too high…their just asking for trouble.

Now that I’ve settled that – I need a tissue; Toby’s going on a cruise.

Wishing you Big Flops and Bigger Pots,

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4 Comments to A Man, a Spider, and a Question of Ethics

September 13, 2008

Great topic. I’ve often wondered about what to do when this happens. I feel that if the dealer messed up, then everybody knows, so go with it. If a player wants to raise their cards to a level where someone else can see, then that is their mistake and should pay for it.

September 14, 2008

There is no such thing as ethics in poker:-)

Delik James
September 15, 2008

…and no crying in baseball.

October 3, 2008

Interesting question. Never been in the situation, would probably also depend on whether it was online or offline. I here refer to poker ethics in general. Offline I am quite sure that I would be very ethical. But online… Who has not played SNG or cash table with a friend and taking advantage of knowing another set of hands or chip dump at in the right situations?

Do you guys also see that the situation depends on whether it is online or offline poker?

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