Recently the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, FL hosted the World Poker Tour’s “Tournament of Champions” which was a $15k buy-in event exclusively for players who’ve won WPT main events. While the shot clock has been tried before in the occasional preliminary tournament and super high roller event, this marked the first time it has been used such a prestigious tournament and has led to a lot of discussion about the idea and implementation in poker circles.
Each dealer was given a tablet with a timer and players were given 30 seconds to act on their hand regardless of what street the decision was being made on. In addition to these 30 seconds to act, each player received 5 “time chips” which could be used to extend the amount of time they were given to act for tough decisions. Players who made the televised final table were reset to a total of 4 time chips whether they’d used their previous 5 or not. If you weren’t facing a bet and time ran out, your hand was automatically checked. If you were facing a bet and ran out of time, your hand was declared dead.
Reactions to the shot clock were overwhelmingly positive from the WPT Champions who participated in the event, and some of the minority’s complaints were more about the execution of the shot clock than the idea. Mohsin Charania believes that instead of your hand being killed when you reach 30 seconds, they should automatically take one of your time chips away from you and restart the clock. I definitely agree that losing a time chip is far better than having a hand killed and reduces the stressful distraction of having to pay such close attention to how much time you have left while making big decisions.
The positive feedback is not surprising considering a poll of entrants in the 2014 WPT LA Poker Classic $10k main event showed that 80% of players were in favor of a shot clock being instituted for WPT main events (including, presumably, 100% of players who played with Jordan Cristos in that event). Even notorious tanker Yevgeniy Timoshenko admitted that he’s glad the WPT is being innovative and said that while the shot clock isn’t his favorite thing, he doesn’t mind it.
You may recall that I’ve touched upon the topic of shot clocks in a previous blog I wrote about clock-calling. While I still have my reservations about the shot clock and am afraid of possibly turning away recreational players who are intimidated by being put on a clock every time they act, I’m beginning to warm up to the idea. The taboo of calling the clock doesn’t seem to be going away as quickly as it should and I often hear stories of people being verbally attacked after calling the clock on somebody. The shot clock does away with that taboo completely. In my experience, it’s professional players who are tanking excessively more frequently than recreational players anyway.
Despite all of this positive feedback, let’s not forget that a poll of players in a $10k buy-in and feedback from a $15k buy-in event comprised solely of WPT Champions is far from representative of the poker ecosystem as a whole. As always, the most important demographic to consider is the recreational players (something professional poker players often forget). Clearly that demographic is vastly underrepresented in these two groups. I certainly wouldn’t recommend that Borgata start running more of their events as shot clock events until we’ve had more time to see the idea tested and find out how recreational players feel about it.
What do you think? Please tweet at me (@mattstoutpoker) and give me your thoughts on the shot clock, especially if you’re a recreational player because I’m extremely curious how a poll of solely recreational players would turn out. Who knows? Maybe we’ll have shot clocks at Borgata one day when you come down for a Borgata Poker Open event!