So the 2012 WSOP main event will take place without a female player after Elisabeth Hilles and Gaelle Baumann were eliminated in 11th and 10th places respectively.
But it could so easily have happened.
In last Wednesday’s Hand of the Week we looked at the very final hand that led to Gaelle Baumann’s elimination in 10th place at the hands of Hungarian professional Andras Koroknai. She shoved A9o from the hijack seat and Koroknai called in the small blind with AJ. No help on board and out she went.
But before that fateful hand there was a situation which, had it not happened, could have changed everything. And this really was cruel luck.
Late on Day 5 with about 100 players remaining Gaelle Baumann opened with a min-raise to 60,000. Sitting in the small blind was none other than her future executioner Andras Koroknai. He moved all-in for about 2 million and when Gavin Smith folded from the big blind Koroknai mucked his cards and prepared to take the pot. But of course the hand wasn’t over – Baumann was still waiting to act! And act she surely would have because she was holding KK.
Koroknai hadn’t realised that Baumann had raised before him and he thought that he had been the first to act. So when he saw Smith fold he believed the hand was done with. When he realised what he had done he tried to retrieve his cards from the muck but he was only able to find one of them. (Whether his hand could have even stood after hitting the muck is another matter).
Tournament Director Dennis Jones was summoned and he ruled that Koroknai would lose the 60,000 chips that would have amounted to a call and get to keep the rest of his stack. He cited the “integrity of the tournament” as the reason for not requiring Koroknai to lose all of his chips.
This was quite a result for Koroknai. Unless he had AA (and I don’t know what his cards were) he was in a world of pain and at risk of going out. Of course he could have sucked out on Baumann and cracked her KK but you don’t really want to rely on blind luck to crack KK at 1am on Day 5 of the main event.
A second opinion was asked (or a “better” opinion if you’re Baumann). Some people think that Koroknai should lose all his chips here. The logic goes something like this.
“His chips are in the middle. But his hand his dead so he can’t win the pot. Therefore he should lose those chips”
Personally I think it would be incredibly harsh to punish an honest mistake so severely. Then again, it’s incredibly harsh that Gaelle Baumann doesn’t get to play her KK for a 4 million pot.
Anyway, WSOP Vice President was called and he reaffirmed the decision. He would only lose the amount of the call, not his whole stack. Of course he went on to eliminate poor Gaelle Baumann and make the final table.
Now as far as I know, at the table nobody accused Koroknai of deliberately trying to get an advantage. It was probably just a tired mistake. (Unfortunately for Koroknai, he made a similar mistake during the event and so people have accused him of all sorts of things). But give the man a break – it was 1 o’clock in the morning and the players would have been exhausted!
What I find interesting is the comment from the Tournament director that he had made his decision for the “integrity of the tournament”. To me this suggests that he didn’t think there was an official rule that he could base his decision on and that he was attempting not to make an obscenely unfair decision.
But he needn’t have used the line about the integrity of the tournament. There was an existing rule which supported his decision. And courtesy of Poker News Daily, here it is:
Official WSOP rule 89 states:
All chips put into the pot in turn stay in the pot. If a Participant has raised and his or her hand is killed before the raise is called, the Participant may be entitled to the raise back, but will forfeit the amount of the call. Any chips put into the pot out of turn fall under the action “may or may not be binding” Rule No. 88.
Koroknai didn’t act out of turn so that last bit doesn’t apply. He raised all-in and his hand was killed before the raise was called, albeit by himself. According to the rule, he gets his raise back, but loses the amount of the call which was 60,000 chips.
So there you have it. The rule was applied correctly. It’s fair to Koroknai as it was an innocent mistake yet at the same time massively unfair to Baumann who had patiently waited for a premium hand and didn’t get to play it.
But I would just add that rule 89 isn’t exactly well drafted. Read the first bit again “All chips put into the pot in turn stay in the pot.”
But they clearly don’t stay in the pot, do they? Maybe the word “except” or “however” should be inserted into Rule 89 somewhere.