5 Ways to Improve Televised Poker Part 2: Calling the Clock

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  • Published November 10th, 2012 in Poker

In the past few years we have seen televised poker overhauled, with ESPN and the World Series of Poker moving to live broadcasting, and other outlets also using the Internet to show live final-table streams. We have also seen hole-cards hidden until the conclusion of the hand (something I have long called for) giving the viewer a more “play-along” feel to the broadcast.

However, with these advancements there have also been some new issues that have reared their heads, most notably the slow, boring, pace of live poker. In this series I will look at five ways televised poker could be instantly improved, which in this installment will be the advent of a “shot clock” or “play clock”.

Here is a look at all five improvements I would put in place:

  • Commentary and Biographies
  • Incorporate a Shot Clock
  • Implement a Dress Code
  • Curtail “The Rail”
  • Overlay Pertinent Statistics

The reason a shot clock is important is to keep the viewers attention, and also to prevent unnecessary stalling and dead air. Now I’m not suggesting that we rush players through their decision, and if you read Part 1 of this series you’ll see some of the other ways I’ve attempted to combat the lengthy breaks in action, but slow-playing just for the sake of slow-playing has to be curtailed.

The Pre-Flop Shot Clock

I understand that many players use practiced, timed, movements to eliminate any potential tells, but over the years we have seen many players take this to extreme lengths. One example was 2012 WSOP Main Event winner Jesse Sylvia, who seemed to take an inordinate amount of time for basic decisions, the year before players complained about Hilton Laborda who seemed to be milking his featured table time.

The point is that with the exception of rare circumstances (which I’ll outline below), the action of folding your hand pre-flop can be made very quickly, and in all cases gives away no information for your opponents to exploit.

So my suggestion is the implementation of a 60-second pre-flop shot clock. Within 45 seconds a player must look at their cards and either fold or declare with their actions or verbally that they intend to raise or call, and at the 45-second mark the tournament director/dealer can let them know they are on the clock.

Furthermore, their hand is not folded after 60-seconds, they are simply asked to speed-up their play, and lose one of their “extra times”, which I’ll describe below.

The All-In Exemption

Obviously there are important decisions in tournaments, so I would allow each player to call “extra time” three times per level. Whenever they call “extra time” they are given as much time as they need, unless another player calls the clock on them.

What About Post-Flop

In my opinion the shot clock should only be applied to pre-flop decisions when we know 90% of the decisions are relatively simple. Post-Flop decisions should continue as they do now.

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  • Posted in: Poker
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