Fold or Check?

I have been having a debate about a topic and thought I would throw it out to my readers to give me some additional data points.

There are some players of online poker who feel that it is unfair that if they fail to act in time that they are folded even if they had the option to check. So, let’s say that it’s on the river and you are on a no disconnect protect table and you are first to act and you fail to act within the given time period.

My stance is that your hand should be folded. I have yet to see a poker rule book that does not clearly state that at no time may another player or the dealer play for another player. If the software were to check instead of fold the hand, technically, the dealer or the house is playing the hand on behalf of the player which is illegal. If you were to go to any cardroom in the world and get up to use the bathroom the dealer would not check your hand around in the big blind if you did not return to the table before the action got to you. Your hand would be declared dead when you were unable to declare a check.

The reasons around this seem obvious (at least to me). If you walk away from the table and the dealer checks your hand around in the BB and you have pocket aces you could whine and complain all day that you would have never checked aces. Since neither the dealer nor the house can predict what your actions would have been it is best not to have the dealer or the house take any actions on your part and simply declare your hand dead if you do not act in a timely manner.

Now, I get a lot of complaints from people who say that they failed to act quickly enough on the river with the nuts and this rule has cost them a pot since they would have prefered the software just check them down. My argument is that if you’re playing so many tables that you can’t pay attention to the action on a hand that has gone to the river and you have money in the pot . . . you’re playing too many tables.

In my opinion, not only does it violate the spirit of the rule that nobody should be able to act on another player’s hand but if someone is complaining about being folded on the river with money in the pot they are probably slowing down the game for all players. Worse, what if the player has gone to get himself a glass of water and you check his hand and he’s still not back when the action comes back around to him after a player behind him bets? Not only did you have to wait for him to timeout on the original pass but you have to wait for him to timeout on the second pass as well.

Anyway, like I said, I would like to collect more data points so if you have an opinion on whether or not a hand should be folded or checked when a player does not act in the given time I would love to hear your thoughts.