The World Series of Poker (WSOP) will be calling time on timewasters this summer, thanks to the introduction of shot clocks in certain events. As part of its ongoing mission to make the Series more player-friendly and action-packed, the WSOP’s organisers will put time restrictions on players in the following tournaments:
As well as shot clocks, the high-stakes tournaments will also feature a big blind ante designed to increase the price of poker and encourage more action. In previous years, a number of pros, including Daniel Negreanu, have been critical of the time it’s taken for players to make pre-flop decisions. By introducing time restrictions and bigger antes, similar to those included at online poker sites, players are forced to be more active or risk being blinded out.
In 2017, the WSOP featured a new set of rules for calling the clock. Although players could call the clock in previous years and force an opponent to make a decision within 60 seconds, things took a turn last summer. Historically, players could call the clock after a ‘reasonable’ amount of time had passed. In specific terms, a reasonable amount of time was defined as no less than two minutes. In 2017, the two-minute rule was removed, and players were given the power to call the clock in a timeframe they deemed reasonable for the pace of the game.
That change of pace has given rise to another innovation in 2018, but one that will affect high rollers only in this year. High-roller events are often used as a testing ground for new ideas. Because high rollers are likely to be more experienced, they can provide better feedback on what works and what doesn’t.
While this doesn’t mean the 2019 WSOP will feature a shot clock and big blind antes in all its events, a successful outing in Las Vegas this year could set wheels in motion towards that outcome.
Shot clocks give players a set amount of time to act on their hand. 888poker was one of the first major operators to introduce shot clocks, but they’ve since become standard at events around the world. Although rules can vary from event to event, players typically have 30 seconds in which to act when a shot clock is in play.
As well as having a set amount of time to act under normal conditions, players can also invoke a time bank that will give them an additional 60 seconds to contemplate their move.
Big blind antes are an evolution of the ante rule. In poker tournaments, antes can be introduced during the latter stages in order to force more action. Running alongside the big and small blinds, antes are a small payment that each player has to make before the start of a hand. Under the big blind ante system, the player in the big blind has to pay everyone’s ante. For example, if the ante was $10 and there were nine players in action, the big blind would pay $90 in addition to the big blind.
When both of these features are in play, the pace of the game is increased dramatically. This is something the WSOP’s organisers hope will appease player concerns that live poker is becoming too slow. Additionally, the new rules should make the summer’s nosebleed showdowns even more enthralling for TV audiences around the world.