And even more to lose
You and me bound to spend some time
Wonderin’ what to choose.
It goes to show you don’t ever know
Watch each card you play
and play it slow.
Wait until your deal come round
Don’t you let that deal go down.”
– Grateful Dead, “Deal”
As you may already know from my ramblings at the poker table, Twitter, or my previous Borgata blog entry about the topic, I am a huge advocate of calling the clock on other players at the table when they fail to act in a reasonable amount of time. Excessive tanking is not only detrimental to everyone at the table due to the reduced number of hands you’ll play per level, thereby putting you at a disadvantage against faster tables that have more of an opportunity to accumulate chips, but it also makes the game FAR less enjoyable for recreational and professional players alike. Tournament players have, unfortunately, become fairly accustomed to the slow pace of play in live tournaments but I often hear recreational players get annoyed when pros tank and cash game players complain, “This is why I don’t play tournaments.” when a 7-minute hand is going on with less than 30bb in the pot.
The rules of the Action Clock can be summarized by saying each player is given 30 seconds per decision and the clock starts once the dealer counts and announces the amount of the bet/raise. They currently don’t implement the clock until play is 1 table away from the money. Each player is give 4-30 second time extension chips at the beginning of the Action Clock portion of play. When play is down to three tables the extension chips “reset” and each player is given six. When play reaches the final table the chips are reset again and each player received eight time extensions for final table play.
As I was writing this, the remaining players in the World Poker Tour Borgata Poker Open main event were using the Action Clock at Borgata for the first time ever. Since I have mixed feelings about it, I decided not to make it to day three of the event and bowed out on day 2…twice.
If you do know how I feel about the pace of play in tournaments, you might find it ironic that there’s a part of me that is still a bit sad to watch the World Poker Tour roll out the Action Clock. On one hand they’re finally addressing something that had certainly become a problem in tournament poker, and I certainly salute them for taking a proactive approach even though it’s tough to do logistically.
On the other hand, it’s frustrating that I’ll now be punished for the slow play of others. I tend to act quite quickly at the table — almost too quickly at times — because I want to practice what I preach. Other players tend to notice this and never seem frustrated in the rare cases where I go deep into the tank as a result. Likewise, I adjusted the amount of time I would wait before calling the clock on others based on how quickly they tend to act when making more mundane decisions. Players who tend to act quickly deserve more time to think through their toughest decisions. But since the the stigma associated with calling the clock on players along with some people’s desire to be non confrontational prevented us from properly policing ourselves, operators have been forced to decide how long we have to act on our hands.
I also think the implementation of the clock is a bit odd in that it doesn’t force quicker decisions during the early-to-mid stages of the tournament. I assume it’s because operators want to experiment with implementation on a smaller, more manageable number of tables, but the fact that people aren’t being forced to act in a timely manner when the stakes are relatively low is a bit ironic. I hope the WPT eventually decides to use the Action Clock at all tables from the start of play since we as players have failed to act in a timely manner or police ourselves properly by calling the clock more.
~ Matt Stout