If the godfather of poker, Doyle Brunson, says that poker is more of a war than a game then who are we to argue. Players and writers frequently draw parallels between poker and war, likening the fearlessness, aggression and ability to out manoeuvre your opponents to warfare without the blood. So, if we as poker players are exposing our bodies and minds to such extremes of human behavior then surely, as in actual warfare, there are some common rules by which all parties abide by, right? Well not quite.
Poker is almost unique in its operation in that there is not one set of universal rules for tournament poker. Because different countries, states and casinos have different policies and laws governing them, the rulings in one casino can be quite different from another. In warfare both parties have to abide by rules of engagement which are both general and specific guidelines determining where, when and how militaristic force can be used. The Federation Internationale de Poker Association (FIDPA) is an organisation set-up and run by professional players Marcel "The Flying Dutchman" Luske and Michelle Lau and was designed to help create poker's very own rules of engagement. In the last few weeks FIDPA have released a universal set of tournament poker rules recognised as The International Poker Rules (IP) and now plan to promote them through every major card room. The ethos behind creating these rules is to help poker develop, and moreover, be promoted as a sport, as well as, help unite the poker industry on a global level.
In collaboration with the Tournament Directors Association, as well as, Bob Ciaffone, Jack McClelland and Doug Dalton of the Bellagio, a set of eighty rules have been written. The rules are a general guideline for players and tournament officials alike additionally; the IP Rules are designed to be fully modifiable, meaning that card rooms can adapt any of the rules to allow them to comply with any House, State or Country Gaming Commission laws. FIDPA intend to promote the new set if rules by endorsing card rooms world wide, with the Bellagio, arguably the world's number one card room, being the first to be FIDPA affiliated. Founder Marcel Luske sees the development as an important resource for both new and established players, as well as tournament officials. "As poker has exploded, the beauty of having one set of rules that everyone can learn and follow is such a big step for the game and as a sport. New players and professional players finally have a resource from which to learn and play. Poker is a game that requires skill and knowledge and should be played with fairness and integrity."
Hopefully, this formal codification of the game will allow poker to continue to grow and develop throughout the world in turn attracting more players and sponsorship into the game. More importantly than that though, let's hope that next time there's a dispute on the battle field of the poker room floor that these rules can help prevent any unnecessary bloodshed between two players on major tilt.