It's very common for a trend in poker to be over before it even seems to get started, with one exception. Slow play, and tanking.
It's frustrating, takes up valuable time in tournaments, and can lead to tension and arguments at the table.
I'd be remiss if I wrote this article without adding a plug for the Uptown Club shot clock. Check it out. It's awesome. But I digress...
Back in the day, a No Limit Hold'em tournament was the ultimate form of poker. There aren't many better feelings in poker than the excitement of making a deep run in a large field tournaments.
The problem, in this writers opinion, is that all most all of the No Limit events today are filled with players who take far, far, far too long to make decisions. Even more infuriating, many of these players actually go into the tank when they already know what decision they're going to make. They're literally acting, not comtemplating a hard decision.
I can accept that occasionally doing this to avoid giving away unnecessary information is fair and reasonable, but in large field tournaments where you're often playing with people you have never played with before, you're simply wasting everyone's time.
This is a cyclic problem, because as more amateurs see professional players doing this on TV, they make the natural conclusion that they can do the same, regardless of whether or not it holds any strategic value.
The worst I've ever seen it, was in the 2014 WSOP main event final table. There were a few players who took a long time on every single decision. Every. Single. One.
Cue up the masses who were watching, and now you've got games all over the world with people acting like they're in the November Nine at their local $1-2 game. Ugh.
Do I seem a little pissed off? Good read. I am. I used to LOVE playing large field Hold'Em tournaments, but until a consensus comes to address this problem I just can't get myself excited about them.
With that said, I can do my best to educate the poker world, and I'll do that today with some tips on why you (and everyone else) should play faster.
Reason 1: Common Decency
Let's say that on a nine handed table, one of them is regularly acting slowly. This player alone is taking up a massive amount of time to look at his cards, think, and act. Needless to say, he's not going to be the popular one at the table.
Despite the fact that he is the only player acting slowly, his behavior is totally unacceptable. Live poker is a slow enough game as it is, and he should have enough respect for the people he's playing with to speed up and not drag the game down.
If you're the type of player who waits until the action is on you before you look at your cards, you need to be able to make reasonably quick decisions.
Reason 2: It's To Your Advantage
Going on the assumption that you're a winning player, it only helps you to get as many hands played as possible. A slower table can play as much as 35% fewer hands, which is bad for you. Think of all the hands you're missing, and now much of your edge over your competition you're losing equity in.
The simple fact, is that the only type of player who benefits from slow play is a losing player.
Reason 3: Being A Leader
There's a lot of "monkey see, monkey do" in the poker world. And the more people see something done, the more acceptable it becomes to them. I find it exceptionally frustrating to see well known, well respected players tanking in spots where it's not justified. It simply reenforces to amateur players that this behavior is condoned, when it shouldn't be.
So, be a leader and not a follower. Lead by example, and don't take unnecessary time at the table. The more people who do this can help influence the next generation of poker players and teach them how to behave properly at the table.
Reason 4: Amateurs Hate It
This is by far the most important reason to solve the tanking epedemic. It's simply against the interests of a winning player to make the game less enjoyable for people who aren't as likely to win, and are the ones funding the massive prize pools we see these days.
Recreational amateurs like action. Period. They want a game that moves along so they can get to their next hand. It makes zero sense to anger and annoy these players, because it will prevent some of them from coming back to play again.
Even an amateur can tell how annoying it is with some idiot with sunglasses, hoodie, oversided headphones and four bottles of water takes a full minute to make a decision that his pet rabbit could make in 3-4 seconds.
If I was less of a good person, the next time some idiot gives me the 30 second stare after I open 2.4x on the button, I'd call call a clock on him every single hand for the rest of the game. But I'm not. I try to be respectful of players at the table.
Remember when live poker was fun, and not boring? Let's get back to that. Please!
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