Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Clock ‘em, Danno! Tanking and the Clock

There’s been much discussion on the poker blogs as to the curious poker technique known as “tanking” and the related subject of a clock. The general consensus of the discussion is that too many players tank for too long, and some sort of clock (like a shot clock in basketball) is needed to ensure the integrity of the game.

There are some known poker pros who seem to “go into the tank” quite often, usually as a Hollywood thing versus actually studying the situation at length.  Daniel Negreanu sometimes takes a while to make a decision before he acts, but at least he is entertaining, talkative, and not a colossal bore.  If you watched much of the final table of the WSOP, you saw Jesse Silvia act like Dr. Frankenstein’s monster…stone dead for minutes, then…it’s alive…it’s alive…IT’S ALIVE.  Over and over and over…and sometimes, just to make a fold that, in hindsight, was so simple even I would do it.  His opponents were not without their own marathon tanking moments (I’m looking at you, Jake Balsiger), and it must have made for an incredibly difficult editing nightmare for the producers.

If you play online, you know that the decision clock is integral to the game.  It’s there, and you always have just so much time to make a decision.  Live poker…not the same thing.  Should it be?

Let’s consider why online casinos have a clock.  OK, sure, to keep the game moving, so more hands are played, and they make more money on the rake.  But there’s another factor here, and that’s customer satisfaction.  Who really wants to play with some clown who sits there thinking about every hand for what seems like an eternity? And trust me, 30 seconds online IS an eternity.  The clock keeps people playing, and that makes players happy.

So should live tournament poker have a PERMANENT clock?  Yes, there’s one available for those who call “clock” on opponents, but it’s rare that this is done, and some players take umbrage at those who call clock too often (we’re looking at you, Tiffany Michelle).  I’ve heard from some players that a clock would destroy some of the strategies and psychology that “tanking” players use - making opponents uncomfortable and squirming, allowing slower play to help advance the blinds, blah blah blah.  And of course, some players actually NEED all that time to work out all the possible hands their opponents might be betting, figuring pot odds, re-running the hand, cards played, etc. etc. etc.

If you’re old enough to remember the arguments against a shot-clock in basketball (pro or college, take your pick), a lot of this is familiar ground.  Pro and college basketball really suffered from having a clock to force the action, huh?

A clock, forcing players to think “fast” (as opposed to half-fast), would be a great addition to live poker.  Who wants to be the first poker room to do it?  I promise it’ll be a lot better than being the first non-smoking poker room…oh, wait.

1 comment:

  1. Yes a shot clock is a good thing.