Marcel Luske: Poker Needs Standardized Rules

Marcel Luske
Marcel Luske

Years ago, the FIDPA established a set of rules which, if internationally accepted, would put an end to a lot of disputes at the tables in casinos and poker tournament series around the world. Now it seems to be catching on.

Marcel Luske was already known to be a gentleman and a character in the poker world, when most of today’s stars were still wearing rompers.

Having established himself as a “global” player, Luske decided to tackle a problem all travelling players encounter: different rules in different places, which can lead to misunderstandings and unnecessary friction.

Marcel Luske
The Flying Dutchman Marcel Luske.

FIDPA Means Equality for Poker Players

The idea of the Federation Internationale de Poker Association (FIDPA) is as simple as it is powerful: To implement an internationally approved set of rules. It was introduced in 2008, consists of 81 rules, and is available as a free download from the FIDPA website.

“No matter if you play in the Bellagio, or the Wynn, or in a tournament anywhere in the world, you always depend on the rules of the house”, says Luske.

“So, the player has to learn new rules anywhere he goes. Now we don’t complain about the rules being too difficult. We complain about that, there is no consistency.”

Primarily aimed at the players’ satisfaction, the FIDPA rules would also make things easier for the staff, says Luske.

“With a single set of rules in place, dealers and floormen can go and work all over the world wherever they want, without being insecure and without having to get more training in their respective working places.”

Because of widely differing jurisdictions, the rules had to be tweaked and adapted in several instances. The result being that several national poker associations have committed themselves to the FIDPA, like the ones in the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Italy, Denmark, Finland, the US, Brazil, and most of Eastern Europe.

Bellagio Hotel and Casino
Bellagio uses FIDPA rules.

Among the endorsed members of the FIDPA is the Bellagio in Las Vegas, which has used FIDPA rules for four and a half years now, the Circus Groupe, the Australian Poker League (APL), and Holland Casino.

"The TDA rules are completely within the International poker rules implemented from the beginning and are always updated as such," he said. "The Global Poker Index (GPI) and PokerStars have both expressed interest in using a standardized set of rules."

Challenges Still Remain for FIDPA Acceptance

Luske is not content with the FIDPA's results so far.

“As a poker player, I want to avoid trouble with the establishment, and I want to gain credibility. It is not a question of money, it is a matter of principle, respect, and common sense.

The problem is not that organizers and tournament directors are not willing to use a single set of rules. The problem is that they don’t want to support each other.

So, if one director starts to use a specific method, their competitor says, ‘I’m not doing what he does. The FIDPA can serve as a catalyzer between these parties.”

Marcel Luske
Sunglasses are still FIDPA-approved.

Examples where global rules are valuable are manifold. If a player goes all-in on the river and then insta-mucks if he gets called, it makes sense to force him to open his cards. Otherwise, the door to chip-dumping would be wide open.

Or take the question when a player has to be at the table so his hand is not declared dead. When the first card is dealt, or when the last card is dealt?

Potentially, a player could peek at someone else’s first card on his way back to his seat, so the rule should be that you have to be at your seat when the first card is dealt. However, not every casino follows this rule.

“In football, if the ball goes over the line, it is out. Anywhere you go. Why should it be different in poker?” asks Luske.

There certainly are circumstances where the game would apparently benefit from a generalization of rules, but acceptance will still not be easy to reach.

Individuality plays a huge part in poker, however, when it comes to the host or the players themselves.

If the poker community can’t change this way of thinking than FIDPA will have a hard time taking hold, no matter how well designed it is.

Written by Dirk Oetzmann

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