The No Talk Rule: Pros and Cons

At this year's WSOP, one of the topics of significant debate was the enforcement of the "No Talk Rule." Learn more about the rule and the debate between Daniel Negreanu and Matt Savage on its merits.

negreanu zipper
You may have noticed Daniel Negreanu complaining about the "No Talk Rule" while at the feature table of the WSOP Main Event this year. Maybe you even complained yourself about how much HE was complaining. Most people were definitely left wondering- were his complaints merited?

The specific rule in question is rule #41 of the Tournament Director's Association Rules (not #42 as Matt Savage says on Quad Jacks). These rules are used at the WSOP and most tournaments in Las Vegas and California.

The rule officially states:

"41. No Disclosure
Players are obligated to protect the other players in the tournament at all times. Therefore, players, whether in the hand or not, may not:
  1. Disclose contents of live or folded hands,
  2. Advise or criticize play at any time,
  3. Read a hand that hasn't been tabled.
The one-player-to-a-hand rule will be enforced."

The rule has been part of the TDA for over 7 years, but many players including Daniel Negreanu have been very outspoken about the enforcement of this rule changing this year.

Matt Savage's Explanation

Tournament director Matt Savage is one of the individuals who wrote the official rules used in tournaments, and this week both he and Daniel Negreanu appeared on Quad Jacks Radio with host Marco Valerio to discuss the pros and cons of the rule.

Savage explained initially that the primary reason for the rule's existence is to prevent collusion. They want to make sure that a player can never help out another player by saying his own hand aloud. He also clarifies that table talk unrelated to a player's own hand should not be restricted.

If the rule were changed, he argues, players could legally collude by telling their friends their cards. The only way to prevent this from occurring is making sure no one ever discusses their cards during a hand.

Furthermore, he clarifies that the rule did exist before Jamie Gold won the WSOP (even though it is sometimes referred to as the "Jamie Gold Rule"), and that if he had been tournament director of the 2006 WSOP, Gold likely would not have won because he would have been issued penalties until he stopped speaking about his hands.

Daniel Negreanu Responds

After Matt Savage spoke, Daniel Negreanu joined Quad Jacks to provide his own insight about how the enforcement of the rule doesn't make sense from his point of view.

First, Negreanu gives some possible examples of table talk. None directly revealed the speaker's own hand but did reveal SOME information or ask for information.

Savage responded that each of his examples would be allowed if he were making a decision on them- but Daniel explained how that answer only strengthened his point. He continued that "if we have 20 tournament directors, there is NO chance that if I go to them with 10 scenarios that all 20 would rule the same way." Negreanu believes that a rule with such wide interpretations needs to be removed, or at the very least rewritten to add clarification.

Negreanu also believes that certain situations like a river call can't possibly have anything to do with collussion. Additionally, he thinks cheaters can cheat even without the ability to speak.

Whether a player says something like "I can only beat a bluff" or "I have pocket nines", it is STILL revealing information about that player's hand. It is inconsistent that most tournament directors would say the former is allowed and the latter is not.

What do you think?

Despite his often over-the-top theatrics and some unecessary disrespect of Savage, I personally thought that Negreanu's points generally made more sense than Savage's. That said, as with most situations some compromise is probably necessary. Perhaps we need a rule which expressly outlines which situations players can and cannot speak about their hands- and to what extent.

The debate on Quad Jacks Radio was both heated and compelling, and in my opinion well worth the listen.

What's your opinion of the "No Talk Rule"? Share your thoughts with fellow PokerStrategists in the comments section!



Comments (5)

newest first
  • #1

    "a rule with such wide interpretations needs to be removed, or at the very least rewritten to add clarification"
  • #2

    Daniel's rage on the podcast is priceless :)
  • #3

    lol that podcast was a good listen. There was no real beating around the bush. The EPL concerns that came up in the later part were really interesting.

    I almost feel bad for Matt Savage because he does do a really great job - WSOP tournament structures are great for the players & for TV, but he is wrong to suggest the rule-as written-can be enforced objectively.

    It doesn't prevent collusion but talking doesn't necessarily make collusion easier to detect either and DNG is wrong to suggest that it does.
  • #4

    Daniel is right, if you can't rule specific situations consistently then the rule should be changed!
  • #5

    dumb rule, I love live poker but this is kinda dumb