Yes, it's a kinda silly rule, and yes, Jamie Gold did abuse it during his Main Event win.
I've read interviews with Matt Savage since that said that, had he been the tournament director at the Main Event that year, Gold would have been penalised.
Stupidest rule ever. See here
Punish the Guilty
BY: STEVE ZOLOTOW | PUBLISHED: Wednesday Aug 29, 2007 12:00 AM Cardplayer Magazine.
Part II: A Laughable Rule
Some tournaments, including this year's World Series of Poker,
have a rule that a player may not tell the truth about his hand. Before I start ranting about this ridiculous rule, I want to recount my version of an old puzzle. I was hired to scout tropical locations for an upcoming poker tournament. On one island, I found that the natives were of two tribes, the Honeys, who are always honest and never lie or bluff, and the Blues, who never tell the truth and only bluff. I got into a hold'em game with three of these natives, but I didn't know which of the two tribes each one was from. I was the big blind on the first hand. I asked the player to my left what he was. He answered something that I couldn't quite hear and folded.
The button said, "He said he is a Blue," and then he folded.
The small blind said to the button, "You, sir, are a lying Blue." Then, he looked at me, and said, "I'm all in with my two aces."
I look down and see two kings. What should I do, and why? (The answer will be given later.)
Why should tournament directors decide that talking about hands in a heads-up situation is wrong? It is a part of poker and always has been a part of poker. They claim that in tournaments, what happens between two players has an effect on everybody else. Sure it does, but so does bluffing
, check-raising, and everything else. Why should they take one weapon out of our arsenal? And this is a weapon that spectators and even the other players at the table find entertaining. What this rule does is convert everyone into a Blue, who must lie. What's bad about that? Well, first here's the answer to the puzzle in the first paragraph.
I should fold. The first native said something that I didn't hear. If he was an honest Honey, he said, "I'm a Honey." If he was a bluffing Blue, he also said, "I'm a Honey." So, no matter which tribe the first player was from, he said that he was a Honey. The second player, however, said that the first player said he was a Blue. So, the second player is clearly a lying Blue. As for the third player, he must be a truth-telling Honey, since he correctly called the second player a liar. Since he is a truth-telling Honey, he has two aces and I should fold my kings.
Someone in the main event told the truth about his hand, saying, "I have a king." His opponent folded, but he received a one-round penalty for telling the truth. Obviously, he should have said, "I don't have a king," then paused and added, "but there is a penalty for telling the truth." Thus, he could have conveyed the same information by lying about his hand. As long as we know that our opponent must be lying, we can assume the opposite is the truth.
Unless players are allowed to use some mix of truth and lies, they effectively are telling the truth. So, the rule that makes sense is: When you're heads up, you can say anything you want about your hand.
When I told this to one of the directors, he said that truth-telling leads to collusion. Collusion is much more of a problem in the minds of directors than it is in actual fact. I am good friends with some of the best players in poker (and some of the worst), but I can't imagine wanting to cost myself chips to help Howard Lederer or Erik Seidel; nor do I think they would ever want to cost themselves chips to benefit me. I guess there can be times when a husband or backer might want to collude to keep a wife or backed player alive, but if this was the case, they could do it without discussing the specifics of their hand at all. There are ample specified penalties for collusion and soft-play. If the director is sure that a statement is made to collude, that person is, and should be, expelled from the tournament and his chips forfeited. This is similar to barring cell phones because they might be used for cheating. Don't punish the innocent, but when someone is guilty, punish him severely.
My last criticism of this rule is that it is hard to enforce, and therefore is not uniformly enforced. What if I say, "I have a king," my opponents folds, and someone alleges that I was telling the truth? Must I show my uncalled hand?
What if I bet with a board of K-K-10-10-4 and my opponent asks, "Do you have a king?"
I answer, "I don't have a king." He calls with a 10. I show two kings for quads. Was I lying when I said that I didn't have a king, or telling the truth because I didn't have a king, but two of them
For those of you who have never been exposed to logical paradoxes, I will end by quoting one of the most common self-referential conundrums: "This statement is a lie!"