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WPT Tournament of Champions Decision To Use Poker Shot Clock Sparks Debate

Former WPT Champion Jordan Cristos Announces Plan To Undermine Move By Using Full 30-Second Time Allotment For Every Decision


For the first time in it’s 14-season history the World Poker Tour will be ending it’s season with a new event, the WPT Tournament of Champions. The tournament will feature the champion of every WPT main event from this season, who each won their $15,000 seats as part of their prize package, as well as WPT “Champions Club” members, who have won main events in prior seasons and will be able to buy in for $15,000. The tournament, which features nearly $200,000 in added money and prizes to the prizepool kicks off on Apr. 22.

The televised event’s new format isn’t the only change drawing attention, however. Earlier this month it was announced that this event would be the first major WPT event to utilize a 30-second shot clock. Each player will receive five, 30-second time extensions that they can use at any time leading up to the final table. At the televised final table, all six players will reset with four, 30-second extensions. A full look at the rules of the “Action Clock” can be found here.

This move has been met with support from some and protest from others. WPT Executive Tour Director Matt Savage has been considering the change for years, even taking a live poll of players at the 2014 WPT L.A. Poker Classic main event to gauge interest in exploring the use of shot clocks. 80 percent of players responded that they would be in favor of the change, a sentiment that has been championed by many players including Daniel Negreanu, who brought up the idea as a commentator on the live broadcast of the 2015 World Series of Poker main event final table.

“Without significant rule changes I’m concerned live poker on TV may do more harm than good,” said Negreanu after that final table drew criticism for featuring too much tanking. “So many people are turned off by the slow pace of play.”

Longtime WPT commentator and Poker Hall of Fame member Mike Sexton also voiced his support for this type change, saying that it’s “…no secret I’ve long been for Action Clock. Glad WPT is trying it. I believe majority of players will like it.”

But while players like Negreanu and Sexton have embraced the use of shot clocks, there are some players who have expressed negative opinions of the change. 2013 WPT Legends of Poker main event champion Jordan Cristos has became one of the most vocal opponents. Cristos, who is characterized as one of the slower live tournament players by proponents of the shot clock, took to Twitter after the announcement to voice his opinion over a serious of tweets and responses.

Although this move is a first for a major WPT event, shot clocks have been used successfully in other tournaments, including the popular super high roller events at the Aussie Millions poker festival.

Arguments in favor of a shot clock hinge on the idea that when players make their decisions faster, the table is able to see more hands, in effect improving the structure of the tournament. Amateur players might also appreciate the quick pace of play, which would limit the excessive tanking that can make the game feel overly serious and tedious. Players would also be spared from having to call the clock on their slow opponents, a part of the game that people often find uncomfortable to deal with.

The downsides of a shot clock include the logistical problems involved with implementing them into the game and the initial cost for the casino or tour. Dealers and floor staff will need to be trained to handle the additional job responsibilities. The additional time pressure might dissuade amateur players, some argue, and conversely might rob expert players of the time they need to make their best decisions.

There are certainly pros and cons to the decision. The WPT Tournament of Champions will be a great next step in testing the viability of a shot clock in a major televised event. Only time will tell if it will be a success or not.



over 5 years ago

Cristos is obviously a very selfish player and does not look at the big picture.I think he believes they are limiting his hollywood time HE WILL PROBABLY WASTE LESS TIME WITH HIS DELAYS THAN HE WOULD NORMALLY.