WSOP Implements New “Clock” Rules

Tournament poker has a problem. In theory, a player can take as much time as he wants before making a decision. It’s important to think things through when big money is at stake. But players have been abusing this privilege, especially when they’re short-stacked on the bubble. Instead of risking elimination, they’ll stall on purpose, hoping someone else busts out first. It’s up to other players at the table to “call the clock” and have a floor person come over to get things moving.

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It’s only a matter of time before tournament poker follows the same path as basketball and adopts the “action clock” to limit stalling. But for now, the World Series of Poker has decided to tighten their rules rather than take the nuclear option. WSOP officials sent out a press release last week highlighting some of the new clock rules; these changes should speed things up by a fair margin, not just for players and organizers, but viewers at home, too.

Clockwise

Under the old rules, players were supposed to wait “a reasonable amount of time” before calling the clock on opponents – at least two minutes. Then a floor person would arrive and decide whether or not to give the offender 60 seconds to make a play, counting down the last 10 seconds and declaring his hand dead if no action had been taken by then. Other penalties for stalling could be applied as deemed necessary.

The “reasonable amount of time” proviso still applies under the new rules, but players no longer have to wait at least two minutes to call the clock. It’s up to them to decide what’s reasonable. Also, the offender will no longer get 60 seconds; the floor person, if she thinks it’s warranted, will give him anywhere between 10-40 seconds, including the 10-second countdown.

On top of these specific changes, WSOP officials are encouraging players to call the clock anytime they see fit – although penalties will be handed out for anyone who abuses this privilege, as well. There’s always been something of a stigma attached to calling the clock on an opponent; poker is supposed to be a respectful sport, after all. But players will do whatever they can get away with, and the last thing the WSOP wants is to lose precious viewers because all they’ve seen for the last five minutes is a bunch of people sitting around a table doing absolutely nothing.

 

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