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Friday, June 17, 2016

More Poker Pace Killers

On Wednesday, I wrote about how some poker players are ruining the game by playing much too slowly, acting as if every decision was life and death. Here's an example of what I was talking about, as reported by the WSOP staff Thursday afternoon in the $3,000 buy-in Six Max No Limit Hold'em Event:

Guiliano Bendinelli had the clock called on him in a small pot a couple orbits ago, and there were some complaints that his table is playing far slower than the other two. The floorman issued Table 3 a warning, and asked them to pick up the pace as a consideration to the rest of the field.

The prodding hasn't exactly worked.

In the most recent hand, Mark Herm opens the button to 60,000, and action freezes on Bendinelli in the small blind. After maybe 90 seconds, he begins cutting out a three-bet. A couple minutes later, he carefully slides 165,000 forward. Jordan Cristos is the big blind, and he's typically known for being a slow actor. Cristos folds without much delay, though, and the action returns to Herm. He considers for 90 seconds of his own, then four-bets to 295,000.

Bendinelli slips deep into the tank. He sits as still as a statue for maybe two minutes, then slowly checks his hole cards and returns to his thinking pose. That process repeats twice more with Bendinelli pausing, peeking, and pausing again. About five or six minutes into this decision, the floorman starts to step slowly toward the table, and Bendinelli uncaps his cards and slips them slowly into the muck.

Herm wins a ten-minute preflop pot.
I mentioned yesterday that installing a 30-second "shot clock" might cause more players to use a half-minute every time, which would slow things down even more. However, if it eliminates ridiculous delays like those by Herm and (especially) Bendinelli, it may have to become mandatory. Remember, this was a hand that never even got to the flop.

A few weeks ago, there was a $300,000 buy-in Super High Roller tournament, televised on CBS Sportsnet. It had a 40-second clock built into the table with a button that the dealer pressed every time the action moved to the next player -- analogous to the clock used in competitive chess, a game that arguably requires more thinking on every move than poker. Each player was given five time-extension cards to use which gave them another minute to make a decision. Limiting the time-extensions meant they had to be used sparingly over the course of the entire tournament, and the pace of the game wasn't constantly ruined by players pausing-peeking-pausing.

Other tournaments will now have to look at using the same technology, or enforce penalties like being removed from the table for one round or banned from future events. Otherwise they run the risk of even more Bendinelli-like delays.

I mentioned Wednesday that the players who act this way are almost all under 30 years old. I can't remember ever seeing a middle-aged guy being so rude to his fellow players. And I have never witnessed a woman of any age abusing the privilege so horribly. Ever.

I can tell you that if someone did this regularly in the cash games I play in, the rest of us would not put up with it. We would make our dissatisfaction known to both him and management, and if he still wouldn't stop, we'd refuse to play with him.

At the very least, I'd have the floor supervisor hover over the table and every ten seconds say to that kind of procrastinating player, "Hey, pal, the action's on you. Let's go or get out!!"