World Poker Tour Introduces Shot Clock at Tournament of Champions

$15,000 buy-in WPT Tournament of Champions will feature a 30-second shot clock
$15,000 buy-in WPT Tournament of Champions will feature a 30-second shot clock

A recent announcement about introduction of the shot clock for the upcoming World Poker Tour Tournament of Champions divided the poker community. Matt Savage, WPT Executive Tour Director, took it to the social media to make the announcement and allow the players to voice their opinions on the matter.

The Tournament of Champions features a $15,000 buy-in and it is a rake-free event, which will take place from April 22 – 24 2016 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood. The participation is restricted to WPT Champions Club members only.

30 second shot clock rules

According to the official rules published by the WPT, the shot clock (or action clock) will be controlled by a dealer and the timer will start once the last card is dealt. Every player is allotted 30 seconds to act and if they are facing a bet or a raise, the dealer will start the timer only after they have counted the chips and announced the exact amount that the player needs to call.

Will shot clock make difficult decisions easier?
Will shot clock make difficult decisions easier?

In the event a player faces a tougher decisions, they will be able to use as many of their four extension chips as they like. Every extension chip will add extra thirty seconds to the timer. At the end of the day, any unused chips will be removed and surviving players will receive four new extension chips at the start of play the next day.

Is shot clock good for poker?

The debate on introduction of the shot clock has been going on for quite some time now. Some players are very supportive of the idea, while the others seem to believe that it will damage the game, by making it impossible to deal with really hard decisions.

To try and resolve the issue, Savage took it to Twitter and Facebook, asking a question which should help define the usefulness of the shot clock.

The question initiated very lively debate on Twitter as players came out with their opinions on the matter. Many expressed their belief that the shot clock is neither here nor there, as it will help with the faster game flow, but it could also deter some amateur players. Jimmy Fricke chimed in, stating:

What Fricke meant to say was that even with the shot clock, slow players can choose to take twenty to thirty seconds on nearly every decision, still holding back the table flow. That scenario clearly defeats the purpose of the shot clock.

Jimmy Fricke doesn't believe that a shot clock addresses the core of the issue
Jimmy Fricke doesn’t believe that a shot clock addresses the core of the issue

A thread popped up on Two Plus Two as well, trying to address the matter. Some who do favor the shot clock are concerned that 30 seconds might be a bit too short for the live setting. As for the potential abuse by some players, a few members suggested introduction of penalties for the abusers, eventually reducing their clocks to mere 10 seconds per action.

Shot clock to get rid of the “tanking” problem

One of the biggest grievances that the poker audience has had as of late was that the action has been way too slow to keep their attention. Watching players do nothing for five or even ten minutes certainly does not make for the best viewing experience.

The action clock should get rid of this issue, making poker more dynamic and much more watchable. Those players who don’t like the idea are free to opt not to play in the events with the shot clock, of course.

Shot clock looking to deal with a "tanking" problem that's been plaguing live poker for some time now
Shot clock looking to deal with a “tanking” problem that’s been plaguing live poker for some time now

While there are some things that will need to be ironed out “on the fly,” generally speaking this is an idea that is slowly being adopted by more and more venues and tournaments, especially when it comes to televised events. Apart from the TV audience, many recreational players are bothered by inordinate amounts of time that many hands take to complete these days.

There is rarely a perfect solution for any problem, but in the period where poker is losing on its popularity and appeal, the shot clock may be a step in right direction in attracting more fans and more players who simply want to have a good time.

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