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Poker Goes To The Shot Clock


When the world’s top poker players battle this month in Hollywood, they’ll have a little added pressure: A time limit on their decisions.

The World Poker Tour Tournament of Champions, set for April 22 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, will require players to make their decisions within 30 seconds. The “action clock” is something WPT announcer Mike Sexton has been proposing for some time.

“In over 90 percent of the hands, you can make a decision within that time,” he said. “And it makes it more fun for players, the dealers and everybody watching.”


Players will be given four “extra time” buttons, each worth 30 seconds for those moments when, say, their tournament life is at risk.

The World Series of Poker final table, televised live in November, was almost unwatchable because so many players paused and pondered – called “Hollywooding” in poker parlance – over hands they knew they were folding. Sexton acknowledges some players might not like the action clock because it takes away a strategy of making an opponent uncomfortable by waiting.

Sexton, likely poker’s greatest ambassador, has been an announcer since the WPT launched in 2002, drawing 1 million viewers each Wednesday night on Travel Channel.

“It was just terrific,” said Sexton arguing that poker has continued to flourish since then, as evidenced by an increased number of tournaments and prize money.

“Even after 14 seasons I’m thrilled to watch the final table,” he says. “I know the drama and the meaning it has for the players and what’s at stake and that drama is just electric. Their lives can literally change with the turn of the card.

“As I always say, it’s reality TV at its finest.”

The WPT Hard Rock Poker Showdown series began March 31. The featured events are a $3,500 buy-in into the Showdown (the one you see on TV) that starts April 15. The $10,000 WPT Hard Rock Poker Finale starts April 17 and the $25,000 high roller tournament starts April 19.

The final tables of the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale, and WPT Tournament of Champions will be live-streamed on Twitch.tv and Pluto.tv.

Nick Sortal is semi-retired after 35 years as a newspaper writer and editor, with 30 of those years dedicated to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. He spent the majority of his career as a community news writer and editor, delving into the issues and topics most newsworthy to local residents. He has a reputation for being fair – weighing every sides of an issue – and checked and re-checked information almost to the point of being annoying


  1. It’s long over due because not having such time limits unfairly favors people who are younger or healthier in terms of just being able to sit around for long periods of time. This helps level the playing field and promote a more diverse poker scene instead of turning poker into a “young man’s game” as I have even heard said by a poker announcer on TV before where final tables are more easily dominated by “20-somethings” rather than a broad mix of people. Hopefully the WSOP will implement something like this too.


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