With the recent news made famous by Mike Sexton that the World Poker Tour (WPT) are considering implementing a shot clock still reverberating around my empty skull, I entered the WPT Venice Carnival with a keener eye. Is the game really as slow as the story paints, or is there very little to really harp on about? Upon closer examination I realized that the time delays for crucial decisions were neither plentiful nor detracted from the sense of enjoyment of the game. Instead, they added to the sense of competitiveness, anxiety, stress and drama. The ingredients that make sport as compelling as it is. So instead of a clean head shot, I saw a game that was suffering from death by a thousand cuts, and wondered how on earth a shot clock could be properly implemented to cut out the wasted time accrued in the three most frequently annoying instances that made me want to jump into the Grand Canal whilst wearing Michael Jordan’s trainers.
#1 The Multiple Shuffle Tank
We are at a nine-handed table in the first level of play on Day 1B. The action folds around to the player seated in the lo-jack seat. He looks left and then he looks right. You would swear he was a young child learning to cross the road. He rubs one of his hole cards repeatedly on the felt and then slides it underneath his second hole card and repeats the rub. He rubs again and peeks at one card with the pace of a sloth. Then he looks left, looks right, and repeats the whole process with his second card. Ponders his decision for 10-seconds, shakes his head and then flicks his hand into the muck whilst pulling a face reminiscent of a Bulldog chewing on a wasp.
#2 The How Much is It Tank
We are at a nine-handed table on Day 3. There are 35 players left and 18 players get paid. The action folds around to Sam Trickett in mid-position and he makes a min-raise. At this point it’s worth pointing out that for the past few hours everybody at the table is making nothing but min-raises. The action folds around to the player in the big blind who is sitting on a 50bb stack. He stares at Trickett for a good 30-seconds (Sam is busy tweeting, sexting, or whatever on his iPhone), then he shuffles his cards in the same way as point one above. Goes through the same ritual as peeling over one corner after another. Sets a 5k chip on top of his hole cards, looks at Trickett again (who still hasn’t moved his attention way from his phone) and then asks. “How much is it?”
#3 Tanking After a Tanker
The action is nine-handed in the fourth level of Day 2. There is a min-raise from early position from a player sitting on 23BB. The action folds around to the player on the button who makes a 3x three-bet off a 45BB stack. The player in the big blind is the table captain sitting on 80BB and he goes into the tank. He stares at the three-bettor, stares at the initial raiser, keeps checking his cards (which I always find a little strange considering they could no doubt recite the entire action flop, turn and river – suits and all, but suddenly can’t remember their two hole cards), then after a good minute of tanking he decides to fold his hand. Now to the initial raiser who not only has a smidgen over 20BB by now but has also had a good two-minutes to think about his decision whilst the big blind has been pondering his move. He too goes into the tank! I suddenly have this mental picture of a monkey sitting inside his mind crashing the cymbals whilst the big blind was pondering his move. Why wait? You can fold or you can raise? Can’t you make that decision whilst the third player in the hand is giving you the time to think? After another two minutes the initial raiser folds ace-king face up and everybody wants to kill themselves. Which leads us to the ultimate question….
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