Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Thall Shalt Protecteth Thy Hand

Not believing in force is the same as not believing in gravitation. – Thomas Hobbes

Things happen that aren’t supposed to happen. We usually call them accidents. To deny the simple fact that accidents routinely occur, would be akin to denying other readily observable phenomena. In many cases, there isn’t much one can do to protect one’s self from accidents, but in this case, a simple defense is readily available to all players.

When playing live poker, one must protect one’s hand. It is a fundamental maxim of poker. One must protect it from exposure to others, from falling or otherwise leaving the surface of the poker table, and from being mucked inadvertently or prematurely. Each player is responsible for protecting his own hand; no one cares about protecting an opponent’s hand.

Not a week goes by that I don’t read some horror story on 2+2 about a player’s hand being mistakenly mucked by a dealer. I just heard the same thing happened during the $1,000 buy in (with rebuys) NLHE event at the World Series of Poker. The variations to this story are endless but the bottom line, in each case, is this: it never had to happen.

Poker is a dynamic game full of ups and downs and rarely is any one single thing always +EV in any situation no matter what. However, using a card protector is one such thing.

Why don’t more players use a card protector when playing live? A chip is not sufficient because it doesn’t weigh enough to prevent this from happening 100% of the time. There are many instances documented on 2+2 where the player in question said he had a chip on top of his cards but the cards and chip got swept into the muck by an overly hasty dealer. One can have one for free by using a common household item such as a lighter (like Doyle), a watch, a rock, etc. or one can spend a buck or five (or more) for one specifically for that purpose. Either way, the cost is a mere fraction of what a winning hand would have been worth had one’s cards not been inappropriately mucked.

The card protector I use is pictured above. It has some weight and heft to it so my cards will remain protected until I move it. No dealer is going to mistakenly muck my cards with this on top of them. Moreover, no careless player is going to foul my hand by mucking his cards into mine. With my card protector on top, my cards will remain easily separated and identifiable. It is such a simple thing and yet just check out the brick and mortar forum on 2+2 and see how many players have suffered this completely preventable fate.

There is only an “upside” (i.e. +EV) to using one and no “downside” I can think of.
So, why aren’t more live players taking advantage of an obviously +EV situation and using a card protector?


HighOnPoker said...

I am a huge advocate of card caps. That said, I will offer one downside, since you said you couldn't think of any. When playing in a casino, it gives you away as a player who is familiar with the game and is prepared to play. This can be used to your advantage, but initially, it can be seen as a negative. Still, the positives outweigh this tiny detail.

$mokkee said...

during last summer's Vegas Bloggah gathering, i sat down at an MGM cash table and within minutes another blogger's hand was mucked because he didn't protect it. he was sitting in the 1 seat right next to the dealer with his cards in front of him on the felt and no card protecter. while he was trying to compute the correct amt to bet, the dealer mucked 'em.

he had AA.

very cool card protector btw.

Memphis MOJO said...

When I first started playing poker, a dealer mucked my full house and pushed the pot to a atraight. It hasn't happened since then, I can tell you.

I now have three card caps and although I'm not superstitious, I use the one that is *hot* at the time (ha).

Mark said...

Hey Lucyphur,

Thanks for the comment Melted Felt re: Linkup... always happy to link up with mild mannered execs and have added you to my blogroll.

Great blog btw!

Cheers, Mark

Pud's Poker said...

I don't play live enough to warrant a card protector but if i was going to play in a big tourney they'd be on the top of my shopping list for sure.

Do you know of any decent sites from which to buy one from? I'm from the UK BTW.