Poker Community Reacts to New WSOP Clock Calling Rule

With the 2017 World Series of Poker (WSOP) less than two weeks away, the WSOP has been on a news releasing binge, largely to remind us that the WSOP really is coming up. This week’s jaw-dropper of the elimination of the November Nine largely overshadowed last week’s WSOP rule change updates. Now, most of the rule changes are not particularly important, but one, the one governing the rule about calling the clock on an opponent, has garnered a solid amount of discussion in the poker community.

Let’s first review what the rule change is actually all about. Here is the old rule:

Calling-for-clock: Once a reasonable amount of time, which is no less than two minutes, has passed and a clock is called, a participant will be given 50 seconds to make a decision. If action has not been taken by the time the 50 seconds has expired, there will be a 10-second countdown followed by a declaration or stopwatch alarm. If a participant has not acted before the declaration or alarm sounds, the hand will be dead. Tournament Supervisors reserve the right to speed up the amount of time allotted for a clock if it appears that a participant is deliberately stalling. Any participant intentionally stalling the progress of the game will incur a penalty in accordance with Rules 40, 113, and 114.

And the new rule:

Calling-for-clock: Once a reasonable amount of time has passed and a clock is called, Floor People, in their sole discretion, may give the participant an additional 0 up to 30 seconds to make a decision. If action has not been taken when prompted by the Floor Person, there will be a 10-second countdown followed by a declaration or stopwatch alarm. If a participant has not acted before the declaration or alarm sounds, the hand will be dead.  Rio, in its sole and absolute discretion, reserves the right, at any time, to invoke a clock or speed up the amount of time allotted for a clock. Any participant intentionally stalling the progress of the game or unnecessarily calling the clock will incur a penalty in accordance with Rules 40, 113, and 114.

The differences are not particularly pronounced, but what it boils down to is that the floor is given more flexibility in handling clock calling situations. There is no guideline anymore on the minimum amount of time a player must be granted before clock can be called and the time given by the floor person when clock is finally called is shorter than it was before.

In general, the reaction to the change has been positive. A sampling of the supportive comments on Two Plus Two:

“Sounds like good rule changes. It basically gives the floor much more leeway to speed up the pace of the game. I’m sure we will hear a little drama over this rule where someone felt they didn’t get enough time on some big decision, but overall it should be great.”

“The pace of play has gotten from slow to unbearable. On TV people only see big hands from the main event with super long levels, but reality is that players stall all the time in the smaller events with shorter levels.

“If they can also make sure floors arrive in a timely manner at the table, this could really help speeding up the game. Let’s see how this is going to work out this year and maybe talk about delay of a game penalty next year.

“I feel like this is a last ditch effort to avoid having to implement the shot clocks that nobody really wants, but more and more people think is necessary.”

On the other hand:

“I hate stalling but from 3 minutes to zero? Really?”

“I support decisions that speed up play (it’s become unbearable in some live tournaments how slow it has become…) but I don’t like this arbitrary 0-40 seconds rule “based on floor person sole discretion”. Why not making it a fair, uniform 20 or 30 seconds? Floor people are human and prone to making mistakes in assessing the situation they’re in.”

“My view is that the WSOP’s new rules in this regard are using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut.”

Overall, the arguments about the rule weren’t necessarily about it being objectively good or bad, but rather whether or not the subjectivity built in would make for confusing and/or uneven enforcement. Without that “no less than two minutes” part, some worry that players might get loosey-goosey with clock calling just because they can and the floor will just go along with it. And then there are those who aren’t worried at all and are not shy about proclaiming so as bluntly as possible:

It is truly incredible that there are people out there that think this is not a good idea. In their eyes everyone is going to call the clock on them when they take slightly longer or something like that which is obviously bull****. If you play fast the whole time and take 3 minutes nobody at the table is going to call the clock because you earned the right to take a bit more time in that particular instant. If you take 15 seconds every preflop decision people can now rightfully call clock on you instantly.

If you’re a bad reg tanker and fear that people will call the clock on you for no reason; they won’t. It is because you’re an annoying little ***** that wastes everyone their time 30 seconds at a time. If people had a button that instantly vaporizes you at least 3 out of 8 would use it. You suck at poker and should do something else. Stop blaming other people for your antisocial behavior.

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