The World Poker Tour (WPT) has long been the ambassador for televised poker. While poker may be enjoyable to play, most games wouldn’t be too interesting to watch. The WPT has been able to bring tournament Texas Hold’em to the masses in an exciting format. The latest proposed innovation is a 30 second shot clock, is this good for poker?
The idea is to limit everyone to 30 seconds per decision, after that their hand is declared dead and discarded into the muck. In the past players have been able to call for a clock on players who consistently take too long to make decisions, where the tournament manager would come and enforce a time limit, usually a minute. This shot clock would apply to everyone automatically, which would speed up the game substantially.
Adding Suspense to the Equation
When you watch a player try and make a decision, you unconsciously put yourself in their position. This is why you feel nervous and maybe even break out into a light sweat when watching intense action.
A shot clock adds even more pressure to the situation. As if hundreds of thousands of dollars weren’t already enough to risk on a single decision, players would potentially have to make a decision within 30 seconds. From a fan’s perspective this would be great, adding even more excitement to broadcasted final tables.
Is this Fair to the Players?
Most decisions at the table are made within a few seconds, but when players consistently take a long time to actually make their play, it drags out the game considerably. Standard habits like playing with chips, adjusting their glasses or cards every single action to not give away any tells wastes everyone’s time.
There are however, certain situations where a player might need more than 30 seconds to make a tough decision. Not all the rules pertaining to a shot clock have been decided yet. One possible option is to allow for a set amount of time extensions for big decisions. This is similar to how the NFL allows coaches to challenge calls that they believe are wrong.
At this point it appears that the shot clock will be implemented in future WPT tournaments at some point, but will likely be introduced on a trial basis. If all goes well, some small tweaks may be made and then it will be used full time. It should result in faster play, more exciting play and could be a great move for the poker industry.