Aria to Allow Cell Phones During Live Hands

4 years ago
Aria Casino to Allow Cell Phones During Live Hands
26 May

The Aria Casino in Las Vegas recently announced that they would no longer ban players from using their “2 ways communications devices” during live hands, which, practically speaking, means players will be able to use their cell phones or even Facetime mid-play.

Imagine, you have set up the perfect play where you have isolated a weak opponent, you have shown them the reverse tell you have been working on all night, and you have made your move. They tank. You stare into space pretending it means nothing when really it means everything. You look up expecting to see them sweating and you are surprised to see them in the middle of a telephone conversation on their cell phone, seemingly unaware of the important decision before them. This would be disconcerting to most players and seen as a breach of poker etiquette by others.

The announcement received a mixed response from users on the 2+2 poker forum with some players being very against the idea whilst others accepting that it is already a problem in casinos and action needed to be taken one way or the other. I have broken down the practicalities of this announcement into the following sections.

Live Poker Can Be Slow

If you are on the phone during live play, a dealer might not deal you into the hand, they may request you end the call and wait for you to do so, or they may call the floor and ask for a ruling. In all instances, this results in a delay which slows down play. Players report that this already happens regularly in casinos as we are all are so addicted to tapping away on our mobile devices, even if it is not permitted.

By allowing communication devices to be used, this will eliminate any delays that come from dealing with these problems. This might not be the best answer, but it serves that particular purpose. If everyone is breaking the rule, there is merits considering whether it should be in place at all. We live in a world dominated by technology and it is becoming more immersive as our lives become more intertwined with our devices.

General Talk versus Advice

There is a big difference between chatting to a friend about something not related to poker and asking them what to do in a tight spot during a poker hand. I believe the rules will not extend to allowing coaching or using a device to solicit advice on a hand.

Another problem is texting for advice. This is more hidden than a player verbally requesting help, and will be more difficult to control. This will inevitably come up, and the casino has walked into this problem. It is unclear exactly what the finite terms will be regarding text messages, but if they allow discussions, then texting is by proxy just another means of having a conversation. Texting is perhaps the main issue that remains unclear and the main area where abuses could occur against the poker game's integrity.

Why Phone a Friend anyway?

Many poker professionals would be encouraged if an opponent felt the need to phone a friend to ask for advice as this suggests they cannot win on their own. But many players would never phone a friend even if they were allowed to do so. Poker players often vastly overestimate their own abilities and, practically speaking, not many players are going to stop and make a call at every point of decision. This type of activity can be easily mitigated by putting a clause into the terms and conditions that allows the casinos to intervene if their generosity is causing problems in the game. And, as we all know, the decision of the floor is final.

What about Online Poker

If you feel this could result in more collusion at the table or encourage cheating, then how do you approach playing online poker? It is already very easy to play online poker and Facetime a friend or call someone on the telephone and take advice. You can even let a better player play for you if you feel the need, and it is difficult to detect this as an opponent at the tables or the poker room monitoring the online play. These actions break the rules and add to the risks of playing poker online. It reminds us of some of the risks when we raise concerns over live rule changes such as this one.

A Sharking Tactic?

Many players commented about how angry they would be if a player nonchalantly used their phone whilst they were in a big hand. This could easily be used against them. They go all-in, I decide quickly what I am doing and instantly pull out my phone and make a call. I watch them tilt their brains out, completely unable to properly consider the hand and the action I have just taken. This would inevitably lead them to making mistakes in key spots.

Would you do this? I am sure the classy people who read my articles would never do such a thing, but poker players take their advantages where they can get them, and if it sends your opponents on tilt, is this not simply taking advantage of the rules? Many would say yes.

Poker Etiquette

This leads us nicely into poker etiquette. Using the telephone during a hand is seen as uncouth with the “proper” way to play being to fully concentrate on the hand, respect your opponent, and do things right. Personally though, I am happy if a player’s attention is not fully on the game, but I can see how this would cause players to feel disrespected. I do think the casino needs to think carefully about whether they are making it easier or more difficult to cheat and how they will manage the challenges of allowing phone use during live hands.

Things could get a little bit crazy with every player talking on the phone, texting, or Facetiming their family or friends. It could almost appear like a comedy sketch. 2+2 user ‘bdiddy131313’ summed it up perfectly for me when he posted:

Why do they even deal cards? Why not just have an app that sends the cards to every player’s phone?”

Before poker dealers panic too much, it is clear that players would not be keen to put down their smartphones long enough to receive their hole cards.But on a serious note, this could open the floodgates to more frustration and more delays, even if the reasons to consider allowing device use was to eliminate the existing delays encountered at the live poker table.

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Malcolm comes from Consett in the North East of England and is an avid poker player and writer.Read more


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