Fun In Poker

What’s taking so long? It’s just a game

Joe Hachem recently did an interview in which he pointed out that the young players have taken the fun out of poker.

I couldn’t agree with him more. Poker has shifted in the last years from a fun social experience to a game of intense thought and serious battle. Which is OK … poker IS and SHOULD be a battle, but I do believe the fun element needs to come back. People are a little too serious these days. At the end of the day, we’re STILL playing a game of cards.

Fun In PokerIt drives me bonkers watching some of these young kids stare down their opponent in a spot that is so irrelevant. The guy opens for a standard raise pre-flop and the young wizard goes into this deep serious stare. This is all PRE-FLOP — it’s the FIRST raise which is SO standard and this punk wants to stare down his opponent and go into the tank. Are you kidding me!?

Seriously … what is wrong with this picture!? If you’re at the final table or deep in a tournament, then obviously that is different. But on Day 1 or early in any tournament, this sort of behavior is absurd. Poker is FUN. It’s an environment where a lot of people escape to where they want to gamble and have a good time. And now, we as a whole are literally taking the fun out of the game. There needs to be a shift in this behavior.

At the WPT Commerce, all the players were asked if they thought a shot clock should be added in future WPT events. I think it is an absolute no brainer. The sitting around while some kid thinks about EVERY irrelevant decision (obviously every decision is relevant but clearly some don’t need the extensive tank process) will come to an end. Thirty seconds to act on every decision. Poetry.

By the way, I, too, am guilty of taking a long time on key decisions. But I only take the extra time when I really need it. Not just because I can.

Just recently, I witnessed a hand between two wizards that took 14 minutes. I kid you not. Fourteen minutes during one-hour levels of a major 10K buy-in tournament. I wanted to strangle somebody. Every street … every bet … in the tank.

A shot clock is just what poker needs. The element of time running out will not only create more action as a result of more hands being played per hour, but it will bring back a certain “fun” factor that is lacking. It will be a thrill to watch as players near the end of their 30 seconds. Will they call? Will they fold? Maybe they will raise! Clock is running out … eight, seven, six, five seconds left do decide. I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds LIKE FUN.

I do believe that in big key spots this will be bad for me because when I have a massive decision, I really like to take my time but I believe overall it’s better for poker. And it’s an even playing ground because it applies to all. Mostly, I will be happy to see players that are bad for the game get punished.

I believe that every player should have 30 seconds to act on every decision. However, they should receive a couple of extra buttons for extra time that they can use at any time. I think two extra per day with one minute for each extra button is reasonable. And that’s for each day. As each new day begins, you should always start with two new fresh buttons and if you have some left over from the previous day, then they carry over. And that’s it. Very simple.

This is one step in the right direction of making poker fun again. This is our game. This is our living. This is WHAT WE DO. Together I believe we can bring it back to where it once was.

April 2014