Secrets of poker Poker

No need for poker shot clock

Written by Ben Blaschke

In the Mar/Apr 2014 issue of WGM, we featured an article about calling the clock on your opponents at the poker table. That is, asking tournament staff to start a countdown on an opponent by which time they must make a decision or have their hand mucked for them.

Calling the clock on someone is a tactic usually used quite sparingly in poker unless it is felt the person in question is taking an unacceptably long time to make a decision or appears to be taking their time on every single decision.

It’s an interesting topic and one that polarizes opinion. Last year, a poll conducted during the LA Poker Classic asking whether a permanent clock should be introduced to poker to limit the time people took found 80 percent of respondents favoring the concept. Others are vehemently opposed to such an idea.

Our thoughts at WGM? We’re not fans of having a permanent poker shot clock. Although some players clearly abuse the system, the majority are very reasonable and it wouldn’t be fair on them to set a time limit and deny them the opportunity to take their time when an important decision does come along.

Likewise, it’s a bit harsh to put the same parameters on a player playing in only their first or second tournament – where certain situations might not be as familiar – as those placed on a more experienced player. There is in fact a risk that these newer players might be discouraged from taking part at all if they feel they are going to be rushed into making decisions.

Some players clearly "tank" for far too long

Some players clearly "tank" for far too long

That’s not to say that there isn’t merit in the idea as a whole. This writer has covered many events in and around the Asia-Pacific region and is well aware how frustrating it can be when a player takes two or three minutes on every single decision that comes their way. One elder statesman of the Australian poker scene is renowned for doing just that, but nothing has been done to halt his methods.

Rather than a shot clock for all, we would simply like to see greater diligence among tournament staff on policing players who take too long. Don’t wait for other players to call the clock. Depending on who is at the table, those players might feel intimidated or reluctant to do so for various reasons. Instead, the staff – particularly early on in an event – should be keeping an eye on proceedings and either having a quiet word or taking stronger action against those clearly taking liberties. I’d even like to see announcements before those famous words “shuffle and deal” are spoken at the start of play encouraging players to keep it moving and for others to take note of those who aren’t.

It’s certainly something that needs to be looked at, but let’s be clear – you can’t punish all for the actions of a few.