Live poker is back! The numbers around the world seem wildly promising, and I think we can all look forward to some record fields in the coming year.
I have predominantly played live through my career, but the last three years have been quite different after the pandemic forced live rooms to shut down, and most of us spent all our time playing online.
After years of enjoying live poker more, this time at the BPT/DPT, which were also the first live events I played as an MPL Poker Team Pro, I found myself realizing the joys of online thanks to a bunch of reasons, be it the absurdly slow pace of play, lack of skilled dealers, and the amount of effort it takes to get on the boat. I think it’s totally fair to assume that so many new players have been added to the pool who haven’t really played live and so can naturally find it challenging to deal with the mechanics of playing live.
So here are some suggestions which I feel can improve the quality of play and make it a more enjoyable experience for everybody involved.
1. Stacks of 20’s
I think players should be stacking in stacks of 20’s with big chips clearly in front instead of making random dirty stacks. I think if you decide to stack in 10’s that’s fine too, but it is very tedious to keep asking for a count when stacks are in random numbers. If stacks are in 10’s and 20’s, the opponent can usually get a basic count of the stack himself.
2. BB Ante
The BB ante is so crucial to speeding up the game, but I keep seeing dealers and players just taking the entire amount instead of separating the BB and the ante. For e.g., when BB is 500 (500), then it’s important to pay the ante separately as 500 and then the BB. Otherwise, it often ends up looking like a min-raise and wastes more time that can be spent playing. I think the onus lies on players to get the change to correctly post BB antes as their BB approaches.
3. Calling clock
I think we really need to normalize calling the clock on people. There is such a stigma attached to calling the clock on people, and players tend to take it personally. Of course, protesting an unjust clock call is fine, and I personally try to give each player one long tank before I start calling the clock, but if you think someone takes an unreasonable amount of time during decisions or is deliberately slowing down the action then start calling the clock on them. There is a reason this provision was provided to us by the TDA.
4. Shot clocks
I think it’s time most events employ the use of shot clocks. There is widespread debate about how to implement shot clocks correctly, but the point is you get time banks that you can use for your tough decisions and then a set amount of time to make your decisions otherwise. The moment you exceed said time, you will need to give a time bank chip to extend your clock. It sounds tough on new players etc., but I genuinely believe this will help make the game more attractive to recreationals. Nobody wants to see hands that last an average of 8 minutes….
5. Be nice to the dealers.
I have honestly seen some terrible dealers and some great ones, but the truth is shouting at someone while they’ve already made a mistake doesn’t usually create positive results. The dealers will make mistakes just like anybody else, and I find it best to help them while being stern without being an asshole.
Essentially, anyone reading this is playing poker pretty often, and all these measures help you play more hands per hour, which any decent player would want. These were just thoughts off the top of my head, and I’d love to hear if any of you can add more ideas to help in this regard.
Inversely, I’d be more than happy to hear counterarguments.
Some thoughts for organizers-
I know the biggest challenge you face is a lack of space and trained dealers, but please, can we start some sort of pre-online registration where I can receive an electronic version of my seating card and head straight to my seat. This seems more feasible now that we can register through our poker clients. Let’s also start diversifying schedules with a couple of different formats and more bounty tournaments as they help us save tax.
We have a lot of live poker coming up this year, and I don’t see why we can’t make this an experience that both recs and professionals can enjoy!
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Good luck out there!