While poker dealers are there to push the pots, supervise the players, and keep the action square, the responsibility ultimately falls to every single player to protect their hand, and that includes knowing how to read the board.
No one has learned this lesson better than the German Pierre Kauert, who was at the final table of WSOP Circuit main event at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic and playing for a first prize of €182,150.
There were five players left in the €1,700 buy-in tournament and Kauert found himself all in with J 10 against the dominant K j of a player named Lupo.
The board is out of A Q 6 j 6, and both players hit jacks and sixes with an ace kicker to seemingly split the pot. Except the dealer didn’t see the cut and mistakenly believed Kauert was out.
The rest of the table didn’t notice the mistake either, and Kauert took the “loss” in stride, wishing his fellow competitors good luck before walking out. Incredibly, not even the commenters caught the error, despite the live stream graphics.
Check out the hand below, taken from the King’s Casino Twitch stream.
If anyone talked before the next hand was dealt, the situation would be resolved and Kauert would be dealt half the pot. But since the game went on before anyone realized what happened, his elimination had to be confirmed.
“It falls under the responsibility of the player and the dealer, so there is nothing you can do,” said the co-founder of the Association of Tournament Directors and WPT Tour Executive Director Matt Savage on Twitter. “The only reason it was discovered is because [was] streaming. Hard to see [the] player, but it’s too late.
The rule Savage refers to is TDA extension rule no. 2, which states in part that “players should… speak up if they see an error”. Furthermore, rule no. 12 says that “any player, whether in the hand or not, should speak up if he thinks an error has been made in reading hands or in calculating and allocating the pot.”
While rule no. 13 points out that “dealers cannot kill a correctly presented hand that was obviously the winner”, rule #13. 22 clearly states that “the reading of a hand on the table may be contested until the start of the next hand”.
As no one spoke in time, Kauert had to settle for fifth place and €58,350 (about $63,000).
King’s Casino Poker director Federico Brunato released a statement, saying he wants to raise awareness about a situation that occurs more often than people can imagine.
“I would like to refer to one of the most important rules of poker: always read your hand,” wrote Brunato. “At the end of the day we are all human and we can all make mistakes, [The dealer] is no exception. Even though she has dealt thousands of successful hands in her life, unfortunately this hand has been misinterpreted. However together with [the dealer], Mr. Pierre Kauert and all the other players at the table also misinterpreted the hand, which is obviously very unfortunate. The hand was supposed to be a split and now we can only imagine how it would have played out in Pierre Kauert’s main event route, maybe now he would be crowned champion with a gold ring, maybe he would be eliminated on the next hand. I would like to refer to WSOP rule number 76 which states: “the right to contest a hand ends when a new hand begins”. This applies not only to the WSOPbut also to almost all the normal poker games that are played.”
Savage agreed, saying, “People get stuck on the kicker, and I’ve seen things like this missed often by the player involved.”
While this was certainly one of the more high-profile events that went wrong, it nearly happened in the WSOP main event.
As reported by poker author Jim McManus in his iconic Positively Fifth Streetwhich detailed 2000 WSOP main event, a similar situation occurred between Hasan Habib and Anastassi Lazarou with 14 players left.
Habib held A-9 to Lazarou’s A-6, and the board came K-5-5-8-J. Even though the pot should have been split, Lazarou was eliminated instead.
As McManus recalled, “A commotion erupts along the railing and Lazarou bursts through the crush and arrives, breathing heavily, at the table. “The pot has been split,” he yells. ‘Give me my money back!’”
McManus, who was sitting at the table, didn’t see the chop. Not even the other players, or the dealer, or even the tournament director.
“Only Phil Hellmuth, sitting and chatting with Andy Glazer two rows behind the action, had picked it up,” wrote McManus. “As Hellmuth later explained, he ‘saw the separation coming’ and he felt he had no choice but to tell Lazarou about it.”
Since Lazarou was able to play the hand before the next hand was dealt, he was allowed to rejoin the tournament. He went on to outlast three other players and make another payjump, eliminating in 11th place.