PokerStars Rolls Out Beat the Clock Tournaments

Lottery sit-and-goes such as PokerStars’ Spin & Go tournaments have been all the rage in online poker since they were introduced. We don’t write about poker-room promotions or new game offerings very often on this site, but when we do, they seem to revolve around Spin & Go’s (pun not intended, but it still brought a smile to my face) more often than not. That is why, when PokerStars launched Beat the Clock tournaments yesterday, it was a breath of fresh air to see that they were not just a new variety of the Spin & Go.

Beat the Clock tournaments are, though, another variation on “zoom” poker tourneys. They are all sit-and-goes, but unlike most standard SNGs that are only one table, these have 48 players sitting at four-handed tables. It makes sense, as starting with just a single table makes no sense in zoom poker, so really to get the “zoom” quality of the whole thing, having short-handed tables and a decent-sized field is the best idea. Otherwise, players would just end up going up against the same opponents repeatedly from the very start.

Starting stacks are 5,000 chips and blind levels are very fast – just one minute each.

beat-the-clock-registerAs they are called Beat the Clock tournaments, you would have to think that the twist has something to do with time, right? Right. In Beat the Clock tourneys, the game ends after five minutes. Rain or shine, win, lose, or draw. Five minutes, tournament over. There does not have to be a victor and heck, I would guess that very few of the tournaments will even end up with just one player with all the chips.

In Beat the Clock tournaments, everyone who is remaining when the five minutes are up receives a payout. Payouts are based on chip counts. It is a very simple calculation: there are 240,000 chips in every tournament, so anyone who is left at the end gets a piece of the prize pool equal to the total prize pool times [their chip stack] / 240,000.

Right now, the only buy-in for Beat the Clock tournaments is a dollar, so after the ten percent fee, the prize pool is $43.20.

Using an example given by PokerStars, if, when the five minutes have elapsed, a player has 16,500 chips, that player will win $2.97. 16,500 divided by 240,000 equals 0.06875. That result times $43.20 equals $2.97.

In order to break even in a Beat the Clock tournament, a player must finish with approximately 5,556 chips (it’s actually 5,555.55 repeating, but we obviously can’t have fractional chips). 5,556 divided by 240,000 equals .02315 which, times $43.20 equals $1.00008.

As you can see, there will be cases when the calculations result in fractions of a penny. In those situations, the prize will be rounded down to the nearest cent, but those missing fractions will be added to the first-place prize money.

In a press release issued on Tuesday, Severin Rasset, Director of Poker Innovation and Operations at PokerStars said, “We are constantly looking to innovate at PokerStars and believe Beat the Clock is a great new addition to our poker offering. It’s the perfect format for those who want to fit in some quick, intense poker action and is ideal for mobile play, where, in just five minutes, players can experience all the emotions and excitement that only poker provides.”

PokerStars is featuring famed footballer Cristiano Ronaldo in its Beat the Clock advertising campaign. He said about the game, “Beat the Clock requires you to think and act quickly with a high level of skill, which gives me the same rush of excitement that I experience on the pitch. The timed element of this game makes it fun to play and means I can get that quick adrenaline fix on the move.”

Whether or not Ronaldo actually wrote that, he does have a good point. The fact that Beat the Clock tournaments will last at the maximum five minutes (plus whatever time it takes for them to start, but with PokerStars’ player pool, I am guessing they will fill up quickly) means that players can easily participate without worrying about there being a chance that the tournament will go longer than one’s schedule might allow.

And while the math remains to be seen, my initial instinct is that these will give players a chance to reduce variance over the long run, as least as much as variance in such a hyper turbo tournament can be smoothed out. While players can still lose money in Beat the Clock tournaments even if they cash, it looks like there will be more opportunity to walk away with more than zero, though perhaps less chance to walk away with as big of a prize as there might be in a normal tournament. Sounds interesting enough – too bad I live in America and can’t play. I used to be a tight player, so this probably wouldn’t be my cup of tea, but it also sounds like it could be fun.


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