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[caption width="640"] The World Poker Tour could be using the Protection Poker Action Clock regularly next season.(WPT photo)[/caption] Matt Savage thought Mike Sexton was crazy. Sexton, World Poker Tour commentator and Poker Hall of Famer, had been pushing Savage, Executive Tour Director of the WPT, to introduce a shot clock to WPT events to speed up the game and prevent players from tanking unnecessarily. On Friday, the WPT debuted the Protection Poker Action Clock for the first time in the $15,000 buy-in Monster WPT Tournament of Champions. The Action Clock allows players 30 seconds to act on their hand. If time expires, the hand is dead. Players are also given four time buttons that can be used to give themselves another 30 seconds. Each table has been outfitted with a tablet with the Action Clock app on it. Dealers push one of four buttons depending on what’s happening in the hand. Most players were pleased with the concept and Savage, once a skeptic, seems to have changed his mind. “Seeing this in motion, seeing how easy it is for the dealers to use, how much more of a different dynamic it creates for the game, I’m excited and I think this is something we can probably use at other events in the future,” said Savage. As the clock winds down during a hand, the app beeps when a player has ten seconds left to act and then a more distinct buzz when there are just three seconds remaining. “I love it. Absolutely love it. For me, it’s not much of a hindrance because I don’t take more than 30 seconds,” said Season XIII WPT Championship winner Asher Conniff. “I have 3 of my 4 time banks left through eight levels. Some of the other guys, they need the time, and I appreciate the edge on some of these guys, they’re great players.” Savage admits it is going to take some players some time to adjust to the concept, but as more and more players see the concept and play with it, they’ll learn to adapt. “I think that we saw early on in the day people were timing out when they didn’t want to be. But I think as people get more and more used to it, it becomes easier and becomes second nature, people just play faster,” said Savage. “Jordan Cristos and Marvin Rettenmaier and Yevgeniy Timoshenko, they’re all dealing with it, they’re all adjusting.” [caption width="640"] Each player is allotted four "time" chips at the start of each day. (WPT photo)[/caption] In 2014, the WPT polled players at the LA Poker Classic to gauge their feelings on the shot clock and 80% of those that responded were in favor of limiting players' time to act on each hand. Dan Smith thinks the clock brings some of the fun back to tournament poker just by getting rid of hands that take too long to play. “I think in terms of quality of play it’s not quite as high, but maybe it’s like 90% as high,” said Smith. "From an enjoyment standpoint, not having to sit there for six minutes while somebody makes a decision - that’s just brutal.” Smith also pointed out that it makes the game more exciting for those at the table with an added element of drama. “There’s something exciting about it, it goes to the river and it’s like 5, 4, 3, 2, - it’s exciting,” said Smith. Not all players were fans of the clock, though. A number of players continue to express concern over how it changes the game. "I’m not a big fan, to be honest. I actually didn’t think it was going to go as well as it does. But I think 30 seconds is just not enough time. There are so many situations that come up," said Marvin Rettenmaier. "I’ve definitely made some folds that I may have tended the other way if I had a minute or something." While the WPT TOC had a field of just 64 accomplished players, Rettenmaier worries about the way recreational players might react to the added pressure. "I think it’s way worse for them than it is for us because we should kind of have a feel for what we’re going to do,” said Rettenmaier. “I think it’s actually not amateur-friendly at all even though people are saying that’s why they want to do it, but it really isn’t." Given the relative success of the first use of the Action Clock, it’s likely to find its way to another couple of tour events next season. “We’ll definitely be using it for the (2017) Tournament of Champions,” said Savage. “I think that it’s going to take one of our casino partners to step up and say ‘Hey, we want to give this a try.’”
[caption width="640"] The WPT Action Clock is coming to all Season XVI tour stops starting in Choctaw next week.[/caption] The World Poker Tour Action Clock premiered two seasons ago at the WPT Tournament of Champions and received rave reviews upon its introduction. The concept has grown as players of both the professional and recreational ranks are looking to speed up play in the later stages of tournaments. Just announced this week, the WPT is making an innovative change that officially brings the Action Clock into the full poker spotlight. Starting with the first American stop of Season XVI, the Action Clock is ready to tick at Choctaw in the first week of August. The Action Clock, which WPT is bringing in with a partnership agreement made with Protection Poker, will be in use once the respective field is one table away from breaching the money bubble in all WPT Main Tour events. From that point forward, the Action Clock will be on all tables down to the final table, where it will also be used. Players are given 30-seconds with each decision in order to maintain a reasonable pace of play. For decisions that may require some additional thought, players have the option to use one of their four time-extension chips. Each chip is worth 30 seconds of additional time given to a player. As the final three tables are reached, players will be given a maximum of six chips and then a maximum of eight chips when the official WPT final table of six is hit. Another change being made by WPT and its hosting partners is for all tables to be eight-handed once there are 10 tables remaining in play in a WPT Main Tour event. WPT Executive Director Matt Savage has been open to player feedback on the subject of faster play over the last few years and is excited to introduce the Action Clock across all WPT events. “The World Poker Tour is proud to be the first to implement the Action Clock across all of its Main Tour event. Many players, both recreational and professional, have expressed concerns that unnecessary tanking has taken a lot of the fun out of poker. Poker should always be fun, and it was a no-brainer decision to bring the Action Clock to all WPT Main Tour events following its success in the WPT Tournament of Champions and WPT500™ Los Angeles. With the Action Clock, more action equals more fun, and who doesn’t want more fun in poker?” The third running of the WPT Choctaw event kicks off on August 4 and runs through August 8. The $3,700 buy in tournament holds a $2,000,000 guarantee and had a playing field of 1,066 in 2016.
[caption width="640"] The World Poker Tour prepares to trek to Choctaw to start the US portion of Season XVI. (WPT photo)[/caption] The World Poker Tour’s new season gets into full swing this week when it returns to Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant, OK. This is the third time the WPT has made its way to Choctaw and is the only stop in the Midwest in Season XVI. In 2015 and 2016, the fields reached the 1,000 player mark and expectations are similar for 2017. Set about 90 miles north of Dallas, TX, Choctaw has been a poker hotbed for the entire decade. The World Series of Poker Circuitrecently added a second stop there for the upcoming season while other tours including Poker Night in America and Card Player have made stops in years past. Inside of the Choctaw Grand Theater sits one of the best environments to play poker in the entire country where over 100 tables sit with the banners of previous Choctaw Main Event winners swinging from the rafters. The fields at Choctaw are consistently in the four-figures not only because of the large overall demand for poker, but also the satellites run. For any players looking for as many opportunities to qualify for less than the $3,700 buy in and play a WPT event, Choctaw is the place to do it. The Choctaw WPT stop offers the familiar price point of $3,700 and has one starting flight available on Friday, August 4 and Saturday, August 5. The $2,000,000 guaranteed event includes unlimited re-entry and players have the option to register as late as the start of Day 2 on Sunday, August 6. As with last year, all levels for the four days are 60-minutes up until heads up play, where they go to 30 minutes. The tournament is scheduled to take place over the course of four days with the six-handed final table being filmed for television on Day 4. This event is also the first use of the Action Clock in Season XVI following an announcement made by WPT last week of its implementation across all Main Tour stops for this season. Choctaw has been the setting for top-heavy fields at the final table in both years of the WPT event. In 2015, Jason Brin defeated the likes of Andy Hwang, Jake Schindler, and three-time WPT Champion Darren Elias. Last year, James Mackey beat eventual WPT Season XV Player of the Year Ben Zamani heads up to win his first WPT title while also conquering Craig Varnell and Jack Duong, who were among the final six. After a long summer in Las Vegas, most of the professional ranks have had time in the last two weeks to recharge themselves for a busy stretch of upcoming events with the first leg of that trip coming at Choctaw. WPT fields are always tough to conquer and Choctaw will be a great test for those hoping to start the new season off on the right foot.
[caption width="640"] Jordan Cristos has a reputation for taking his time with every decision but he doesn't hate the shot clock conept any more (WPT photo)[/caption] That was WPT Champions Club member Jordan Cristos on the day that the World Poker Tour announced all of their events would feature the Action Clock after reaching the money. The clock gives players 30 seconds to act when it's their turn. The clock debuted at Choctaw in early August and it appears Cristos, easily the most vocal opponent of clock, has pulled a 180 and completely changed his tune after having played with it. “I actually liked it. Surprisingly, I liked it a lot. It was really nice to be at peace for the full 30 seconds, nobody complaining,” said Cristos, who has a reputation for taking his time on every decision. “Normally I take 5-10 seconds, most people who get mad at me, get mad in that time frame. So it was nice to just to have everyone calmly allow me to do my thing for however long it took.” Cristos eventually busted the Choctaw event in 20th place and now says he believes there is some value in having the clock in play - even if it may have cost him some equity. “I thought it was cool. There was definitely some drawbacks to it for me. I didn’t play as many hands to the best of my ability as I could have, but it kept me out of trouble in other spots. So maybe it was good,” said Cristo. “I think it’s a blessing in disguise, for me personally, and for poker.” The hand that eliminated Cristos from the Choctaw event saw him and his opponent use a combined six time extensions. Cristos had [poker card="ac"][poker card="ah"] and Josh Kay had [poker card="kh"][poker card="jc"] and the board showed [poker card="js"][poker card="8d"][poker card="3s"][poker card="7h"]. Cristos used one 30-second extension before moving all in for 1,125,000. Kay then threw all five of his 30-second extensions forward to give himself as much time as possible with his decision. He eventually called and was rewarded with the [poker card="kd"] on the river. Had the clock not been in play, Cristos thinks Kay could have found a fold. “We have a lot of history so there’s still a chance that he does call. I feel like Josh has seen enough from me in the past to know. Most other people would fold. I’m so polarized there to either a hand that does have him and a ton of combo draws,” said Cristos. “I support his call, I don’t mind it at all. I just had the blade. I had one of the hands he doesn’t see coming. I think if he had 12 minutes he could fold there, but I still think he’s going to put it in there a decent amount.” With a reputation for being slow, and having been a vocal opponent of the concept of any kind of clock, Cristos knows he’s turned himself into the villain in the argument and he’s okay with that. “I can’t blame them because I completely understand their frustrations. I just think I’m part of the minority, I’m outnumbered. I can never win the fight,” said Cristos. ”I respect their opinion and understand it and I understand I’ve gotten on a lot of people’s nerves over the years. It is what it is. I’m happy that (the clock) is here, it’s cool; I think it’s great.”