In an attempt to combat the stalemate near the bubble, the Wynn casino and the World Poker Tour (WPT) made a significant change during the $1K buy-in WPT Prime Championship.
Many tournament players criticize the prolonged decision-making of low-chip players who try to delay their elimination until they reach the prize pool. This is especially problematic during major events with large guarantees. The WPT Prime Championship had more than $10 million in prize money when registration closed.
Wynn boss explains the action clock
Ryan Beauregard , Director of Poker Operations at the Wynn, wants the entire WPT World Championship series to run smoothly. One way to accomplish this is to minimize the stalemate as best as possible as major events approach the prize bubble.
After Level 15 of Day 1 at the WPT Prime Championship, Action Clocks were implemented at each table. Players were given four time extension chips at the beginning, which can be used in situations that require deep thinking, such as facing an all-in bet.
As the bubble develops, tables often slow down.
The Action Clock gives players 15 seconds to act preflop initially or their hand is declared dead. However, if a player then raises his initial bet, he will be given 30 seconds to act this time.
“Our goal was to implement it before we hit the prize bubble, so players would have a chance to get used to it,” Beauregard said. “Also, we wanted to make sure it went into effect when it could be beneficial.”
When the bubble approaches in any major tournament, low-chip players often hold back as much as possible for fear of being eliminated before reaching the prizes. The WPT has used the Action Clock for years, but typically much later in the tournament.
Bubble Time Extension Chips
At the first break of the Day 2 session, each remaining player was assigned four additional time extension chips. Four more were added at the start of Day 3. Once the tournament reached 24 players, all remaining players were awarded four additional chips, and then four final chips at the start of the final table.
Entering Day 3, the tournament had just 128 players remaining out of the original 10,512 entrants. The first place finisher will walk away with nearly US$1.4 million at the final table to be played on December 19.
The structure of the tournament did not change. When the bubble approached, hand-for-hand play began and two minutes were automatically subtracted from the clock for each hand dealt, similar to how operators structure almost any major event.
“After conversations with the WPT team, we determined that this was the right time to try it,” Beauregard said. “Especially with the World Championship coming up, our goal is to innovate, to try to change the industry for the better, and we’re going to try a few things.”
Feedback on the implementation of the Action Clock before the bubble appears to be mostly positive. Grinder Ben Ludlow praised Wynn on Twitter for adding the Action Clock before the bubble. He referred to the process as “smooth and painless.”
The first US$40 million guaranteed poker tournament, the US$10,400 buy-in WPT World Championship, began yesterday and before the bubble bursts in that historic event, the Action Clock will be implemented to help speed up the action and prevent short stacks from spending too much time thinking about their hands.