Column: 'F'in Ridiculous

29 June 2006

The logistical nightmare of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) makes for an interesting scene that is best described with the word "zoo." Basically, it's a bunch of poker starved animals caged inside a box not equipped to handle them.

It's quite a hilarious picture, with grown men and women shouting about "fairness" and people generally berating each other for mistakes in play. Add in the people who have to run the mile and a half to the bathroom in order to make it back before the blinds come and you have the perfect recipe for ridiculousness.

In short, the WSOP is awesome and any person who claims to be a poker fan must consider making the pilgrimage to poker Mecca before calling their career complete.

But before you come and make poker history, remember this – leave the "f" word at home. Perhaps the most ridiculous rule in the zoo is that just one cuss word, of the hundreds that exist, is illegal, and said word is deemed vile enough to give you a 10 minute penalty.

Mike Matasow made the controversial "F" bomb rule famous in the 2005 Main Event when he dropped more bombs than the Bush family did on Baghdad. In 2006, the rule is important enough to include in the preamble to every tournament, including the lowly $125 satellite tournaments and side cash games.

I'm not saying I don't understand why the rule is in place. Cleary, Harrah's wants to make the WSOP more TV and family friendly, drawing the young and the conservative old into the booming poker world at the same time.

But seriously, when you've plopped down thousands to play in the Series and some donkey sucks out on you and laughs, don't you have the God-given right to drop America's favorite word several dozen times?

You'd do the same if you've stubbed your toe. For many of us, it's a natural thing to cry out when we're hurt and there is nothing that hurts more than watching your top-two-pair fall prey to the horrible human being that paddles to the river.

Before I explain why the "F-Bomb" rule is obnoxious, consider this – there is no specific rule against using any other cuss words, including racial slurs and the alphabet of swears beginning with "a, b, s and yes, even c."

There is a provision that allows dealers to deem attacks on another person so crass, that a penalty can be assessed, but if you get sucked out on and scream "Sh*t" at the top of your lungs, the "F Bomb" rule does not apply. So be sure poker players, if you're going to let fly a word, make sure it begins with anything but "F."

I think this rule needs to be reevaluated. In my opinion, the intent of the rule is to keep the game clean and honorable. By eliminating a word that is offensive to many, Harrah's is trying to keep players from berating each other with profane language.

I like that idea. Poker should be a gentlemen's game and people should not be allowed to harass people just because they feel like being an ass (I can say that word, mind you).

The intent is the key. If a player mutters the "F Bomb" to themselves, a common occurrence when someone is upset, there is room to deem the action a mistake and should be treated as such.

Most dealers and players are aware of this, and if a violator truly did not mean to offend, he usually covers his mouth in mock shame and everyone lets it go. But if one player deems the word offensive, no matter how it's used, the bosses must enforce the rule and penalize the player.

You all know a player who would be willing to use this to their advantage. He's the same guy who constantly refers to the rulebook and throws it in everyone's face, especially when he's holding a poor bluff.

This is where the rule becomes ridiculous. Dealers and bosses have the same powers of common sense as the rest of us. I say, change the rule to match its original intent. If the cuss was accidental, don't let Mr. Rulebook use his annoyingness as power. And if you think Captain Rules doesn't exist, believe me; he's all over the Rio.

Let's do the best we can to keep the zoo clean, but at the same time, let's remind the keepers that keeping animals inside a tiny little cage can sometimes be a recipe for ridiculousness.

Even the best men and women makes mistakes. Let's give the animals a chance to be human.

Ryan McLane is a gaming industry reporter for Casino City and is assigned to the poker beat. He is currently covering events at the World Series of Poker. Email your comments and questions to him at ryanmclane@casinocity.com .


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