Team Play Online--A Conversation with Lee Jones
If you're a frequent reader of poker blogs or forums, you've no doubt seen a lot of conversations about people playing as a team online. In an effort to clear up any confusion about the very clear line between team play and collusion, I reached out to PokerStars Poker Room Manager Lee Jones.
Brad: Lee, I've been reading a lot on poker blogs about team play online. What are you hearing about this?
Lee: Well, Brad, first we have be sure that we're talking about the same thing. If you mean "team play" as in "multiple players with cards exchanging information about those cards, helping each other, or hurting other players", that's cheating. We don't permit it and if we catch people doing it at PokerStars, we take their money and throw them off the site.
Brad: Of course. What I'm talking about is multiple players consulting each other on any given hand.
Lee : Right - and that's a completely different situation. Anybody who has played poker in a "brick and mortar" casino is familiar with the "one player to a hand" rule.
Brad: Right. You're a bit of a table captain on rules like that, I hear.
Lee: Heh. I do have something of a reputation about that. In my earlier days, I was always the first to complain about breaches of poker etiquette. And I'll admit that I still do it on occasion when I'm playing live.
Brad: But online is different.
Lee: Online is, indeed, different. There is simply no way to enforce a "one player to a hand" rule online. So we don't try. I firmly believe that it's bad policy in any organization or enterprise to have a rule you can't enforce. It breeds disdain for all the rules.
Brad: At the same time, I know our security guys are ever-alert for any kind of illegal collusion...that is, on the rules that are quite enforceable.
Lee: Exactly. And the key question here is: "How many poker hands are involved?" If three people are discussing *one* poker hand, then we permit it. If three people are discussing two or three poker hands at the same table, then it's collusion and we have a zero-tolerance policy.
Brad: So, say I'm taking my wife to Vegas and I want her to learn how to play a little no fold'em before we go and I stand behind her and help while she plays online?
Lee: Exactly. We permit that. And it's in large part because we have absolutely no way to police it. Unless we start aiming a webcam into your den, and we're just not interested in doing that. However, once you get to Vegas, please remember that she's going to have to play on her own.
Brad: Frankly, Lee, you don't want to see inside my den. And, even more frankly, it'd be better if you taught my wife to play. Thanks a bunch.
Lee: My pleasure Brad - thanks for the time.
So, there you go. And as aside, it really would be better if Lee taught my wife to play. What I didn't tell him is I tried to teach her to ski once and it was me that nearly ended up in the hospital. But that is another story for another day...