Commerce Casino Bans Cell Phones and Shades in New

March 27th, 2017 | by Jason Reynolds

The Commerce Casino in Los Angeles is planning to make live poker “fun” with a new tournament it’s called “the social experiment.”

Matt Savage

Matt Savage and Justin Hammer turn tournament poker on its head for a special event at the Commerce Casino. (Image:

Under the guidance of tournament director Matt Savage, the Commerce Casino’s annual California State Poker Championship will host a $100,000 guaranteed tournament with some unique rules.

Sensing that live poker tournaments had become too insular and serious, Savage and Commerce tournament coordinator Justin Hammer are banning everything from cell phones to hoodies for a one-off event.

Skill Increase Results in Communication Decrease

Set to take place on April 29, the $350 No Limit Hold’em event has been given the tagline the #SocialExperiment because the organizers are hoping to take poker back to its roots as a social game.

Since the poker boom, the skill level of the average poker player has increased dramatically, but this has also resulted in these players opting to focus more on strategy and less on conversation.

Hooded tops, headphones and dark shades have become the norm since the Moneymaker boom, but for at least one tournament this year none of those things will be present at the table.

“The #SocialExperiment is an attempt to create social interaction amongst players. Cell phones, sunglasses, headphones, and hoods will only be allowed outside of the tournament area or on break,” read the official rules published by Hammer on Twitter.

Any player that breaks the rules will receive an ever-increasing series of penalties, the first of which will be three hands away from the table before registration closes and one round after registration closes.

A New Direction for Poker Tournaments?

Savage has said that the tournament is slightly tongue-in-cheek, but already it’s received a lot of praise from members of the community. US Poker pro David Tuthill commented that people are going to “freak out.”, while Partypoker LIVE President John Duthie said he “really hopes” the idea will take off.

Although this will be the only tournament at the California State Poker Championships with the rules in place, it could be the start of a new trend across the community. With companies like the Global Poker Index looking to make tournaments more of an entertainment spectacle, a ban on items that discourage social interaction could improve the viewing experience.

Indeed, when poker was in the midst of a boom between 2003 and 2010, personalities such as Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth and Mike Matusow helped make the game more entertaining.

Moreover, with online poker sites focusing more on casual players than ever before, live tournaments where social interaction is encouraged can only be a good thing. Seeing players enjoy themselves is something that helped poker grow in the early days and it could help again as we head into a new era of the game.


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