The need for speed: the WSOP to introduce shot clocks and BB ante in 2018

TAGs: shot clock, WSOP, WSOP 2018

The World Series of Poker is the latest live tournament organiser to take speed seriously after revealing plans to introduce a shot clock and big blind ante in High Roller events at the 2018 event.

The Need for Speed: the WSOP to introduce shot clocks and BB ante in 2018I’m too fast.

I eat too fast.

I talk too fast.

I write too fast.

I think too fast.

I fuck too fast.

I don’t play poker too fast.

I struggle to make a decision. I look the part; baseball cap, hoodie, all the mod-cons. But if you took a tin opener to my skull, and looked inside, there wouldn’t be a little man working out GTO calculations. It’s a monkey banging the cymbals.

But even idiots like me adapt when forced to, and the World Series of Poker (WSOP) is forcing us to…sort of.

Kevin Mathers, the WSOP Social Media kingpin, announced on Twitter that in 2018 the iconic poker tournament would introduce a shot clock and big bling ante in all High Roller events.

I’m pretty sure, the people who play in these events don’t have any monkeys or cymbals inside their skulls, so you won’t hear any disgruntled noise coming from the direction of the elite.

Here are the events the new move affects:

$1m buy-in One Drop.

$50,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em High Roller.

$100,000 No-Limit Hold’em High Roller.

The WSOP hasn’t announced how long each player will get to take their turn (30-seconds, industry norm), and how many time banks each player receives. Those details will come in due course.

The Big Blind Ante is when the player in the Big Blind stumps up the ante for the entire table increasing the average number of hands played per hour because you don’t have to deal with upwards of nine players fannying around trying to find the right chip(s).

Why Only High Rollers? 

So far, 888Poker is the only live tournament organiser brave enough to use the shot clock in all of their Main Event and High Roller events. I am a champion of this move because I believe it’s the future of poker. However, I think the World Poker Tour (WPT) (introduced shot clocks near the money bubble), and the WSOP may have the right approach.

Last night, I watched the FA Cup highlights on Match of the Day. The Fourth Round tie between Liverpool and West Brom trialled Video Assistant Replay (VAR) technology.

Opinion is mixed, but you can’t argue with results. The referee pushed three crucial decisions to VAR, last night, and those looking at the replays got all of the details spot-on. And yet, this morning, the headlines in the paper are all focused on how much of a pain in the arse VAR is.


There are two primary reasons:

It took too long to make a decision, disrupting the flow of the game and impacting on spectator value. The VAR decision doesn’t include the spectator in the process.

So let’s ban VAR?

Not yet.

The reason for introducing VAR is to make more accurate decisions, and it does that. The football authorities now understand that they need to make VAR part of the entertainment. Expect a future that has giant screens on each ground, showing the replays to the fans, to encourage vocal participation.

VAR is going nowhere.

It’s the future of football.

It’s the same with the Shot Clock and poker. The purpose of the Shot Clock is to squeeze in more hands per hour. It works. But just like VAR, there will be teething problems. Rather than introduce the technology to everyone playing in a WSOP event, the floor team get to practice working with it while sitting in front of poker’s elite.

I think that makes sense.

But it is coming.

So, it’s time to take an axe to the head of the monkey and sell the cymbals on eBay.


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