Poker TDA to Reconvene After COVID Hiatus, Solvers and Strategy Apps at Issue

4 min read

Tournament directors from around the world are gathering today and tomorrow at the Aria in Las Vegas to discuss changes to poker rules. The Poker Tournament Directors Association summit will be their first in-person gathering in three years.

Poker TDA board
Matt Savage (center) leads the 2019 Poker TDA summit, the last time this poker think tank convened in person. (Image: Facebook/Matt Savage)

Among the hot-button topics on the 2022 agenda are what rules should be in place regarding the use of solvers and strategy apps at the table. And at the behest of mixed-game players, the TDA already has decided on a significant rule change to No-Limit 2-7 Single Draw.

The summit, which started today at 10 am PT, is taking place at the PokerGo Studio and is being live-streamed on the Poker TDA Youtube Channel.

Allowing tables at the table?

Poker is a game that’s always evolving and, most recently, the use of strategy apps has become a controversial and unclear topic for some. Poker pro Jared Jaffe brought the matter to the forefront earlier this week when he called out fellow pro Brock Wilson by snapping a photo of him using a strategy app during a live event. 

Savage says he believes many recreational players are against using strategy apps at the poker table.

“A lot of rec players think the use of those charts shouldn’t be allowed,” Savage said. “The problem is, we can’t really do anything about it except to alert people that some are using these charts and that this technology is out there.” 

An unscientific Twitter poll Savage conducted seems to support his theory.

Savage says he’s personally not a fan of poker apps at the table, but will see what others in the TDA have to say about the matter.

He adds that he has a bigger issue with Jaffe taking a photo of a player’s phone. 

“I don’t feel like anybody should be taking photos of people’s phones over their shoulders,” Savage said. “I told Jared that I thought that was wrong. There are enough people who feel that it’s improper and could be considered cheating.”

Let there be limping in N0-Limit 2-7 Single Draw

Savage also told CardsChat that the TDA has already decided to change one rule regarding the bring-in in No-Limit 2-7. Mixed-game phenom Randy Ohel suggested that, in tournament play, there is no reason to force a raise on the bring-in.  

“Previously in No-Limit Single Draw, you always had to double-bet to come in,” Savage explained. “And last night, we’ve already agreed that you can limp in now. That’s a big change.”

The benefit of allowing limping instead of making raises mandatory would help make stacks seem less shallow and thus, allow for deeper play, especially later in the tournaments, which is preferable to highly skilled pros who gravitate toward this game.


Savage said he’s excited about this change. “It will improve the game,” he said, “and I was pleasantly surprised that there wasn’t much resistance considering it’s a classic form of poker.”

Governing poker in a post-COVID world

Before 2019, the Poker TDA would meet bi-annually and, at their last event, they had over 200 tournament directors from around the country attend. Savage is expecting a much smaller group this year because of COVID restrictions but says there is still plenty for those in attendance to discuss. 

“I don’t think COVID talk and procedures will be discussed much,” Savage said. “We talked years ago about removing facemasks, but now we don’t really have a choice.” 

Savage created the Poker TDA in 2001, but he’s quick to credit Linda Johnson, Jan Fischer, and David Lamb with helping to make the summits successful. The full list of tournament directors who will be attending the event can be viewed below.

The new list of the Poker TDA Board of Directors. (Image: Matt Savage)

When it comes to changing an existing rule, Savage says the group tries to get buy-in from as many of its members as possible.

“What we do is we have topics brought up and I will be on the main speaker, and what we need is a super-majority — about 90% to 95%. If we get that majority, we go to the 5% or 10% [who disagree] and see if it’s a rule they can live with,” Savage said. “If so, we push them over the edge to get the rule on the TDA. There’s no reason we’d have a rule unless it was agreed universally.” 

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