Doyle Brunson Small 91112

Doyle Brunson

It has become one of the most pressing issues in poker, whether an automatic clock is needed to halt endless periods of inactivity in tournament poker.The problem arises when players deliberately take several minutes to make decision. Other players will respect an opponent with an important choice to make, but when the delay is because a player is trying to increase their chance of outlasting another (and winning more money), then the disgruntled begin to speak up.

Two of those disgruntled players happen to be among the most high profile in the game, Daniel Negreanu and Doyle Brunson.Both command great respect and have sizeable followings online, where both have highlighted the issue. Despite not always agreeing on matters poker, politics and life in general, the pair agrees that something must be done.

Specifically they want a “shot clock”, like that used in basketball, in which each team is permitted a certain amount of time before they concede possession. A more obvious comparison is online poker, where each player has a set time before their hand is declared dead.

Negreanu tweeted as much after watching coverage on ESPN of this year’s World Series of Poker main event final which turned into a three-handed marathon.

@RealKidPoker: If there was any doubt about the need for a clock in poker this is exhibit A. This is painstakingly tilting for casual viewers….October 30 2012

Writing on his blog, Brunson, a two time winner of the event, echoed Negreanu.

Daniel Negreanu Small 301112

“At least we agree that something has to be done about the slow play in the poker tournaments. It makes almost unwatchable TV and is very boring. A shot clock is the answer and the only question is how long can a player wait before he acts? I think one minute is plenty of time.”

It’s an issue that was discussed at length in an article on the PokerStars Blog during EPT Sanremo in October. In it, Neil Johnson,

PokerStars Live Events Specialist, detailed how the problem is one regularly discussed by tournament staff. Johnson, though, doubts that a shot clock is the ideal solution.

“The biggest hindrance to it from an organiser’s perspective is that the only way to run a shot clock is to put the dealers in charge of it. And that’s not saying anything bad against the dealer, but no tournament organiser I know wants to be putting the dealer in the position to kill a hand…The only people killing hands should be floor personnel. I want dealers watching the game, not staring at their lap at a little clock to see if a hand should be killed.”

As the article details, Johnson advocates a third way, a more rigorous use of existing rules requiring no additional duties for the dealer while allowing players to take time if a genuinely needed.

“There are a number of things that have happened in the last ten years in poker: asking to see an opponent’s hand has become very poor etiquette; calling the clock has become very poor etiquette,” Johnson said. “But the guy Hollywood-ing with jack-five, or even having a tough decision with pocket nines, is still eating my clock, which I’ve paid for…Some of these chronic two-minute guys, I would start hitting them with a clock. There’s nothing sacred about that. This is about players taking back their tournament.”

So could it be that the easiest solution is to let players play and call the clock if they suspect someone of slow play? It’s either that or a clock of some kind forcing players to act. The latter might not be all that bad if Brunson’s experience is anything to go by.

“We had a tourney in Lake Tahoe that had a 20 second clock,” writes Brunson, “and it was the most fun I’ve ever had in a tournament.”


Ifp Imagelogo Bluegreen 700pxWhen the IFP was founded in Lausanne, Switzerland, in April 2009 it brought together a core group of 7 member nations, each with a common goal to promote poker as a mind sport around the world.

From those humble beginnings word spread with various other federations joining and others forming from scratch. Thanks to the efforts of poker enthusiasts around the world membership of IFP has steadily grown with the newest member, Chile, being admitted last week.

The addition of the Poker Sport Federation of Chile (Federación Nacional de Poker Deportivo – FNPD) followed the fourth annual IFP Congress in Lviv, Ukraine, last week, where the FNPD’s membership was unanimously agreed.

In a statement released shortly after the Congress, officials of the FNPD expressed their delight with the news, looking to the future of poker across the country.

“We want to thank the support of all who have been part of this great challenge, we set out in September 2010, the media who joined us on this adventure and also our friends of the Federations of Latin American countries,” said the statement. “We have a difficult task ahead and invite everyone to join and actively participate in institutional development.”

Their addition brings the total number of IFP member nations up to 45. The full list can be found on the IFP website.


The qualification stages for the 2013 European Nations Cup are now less than two weeks away. Montessino, in Vienna, will soon gear up to stage the Match Poker contest that will send ten teams to the finals in London, in March of next year.

As those who have seen it played with gusto with agree, Match Poker is an innovative format of the game, pioneered by IFP, which provides a better examination of the skill involved in poker, diminishing any element of chance.

For the spectator it also provides an enthralling insight into the game that is hard to replicate (duplicate?) outside Match Poker conditions – the opportunity to put various players in an identical situation and determine who played best.

It presents boundless opportunities to examine each scenario, at length. All that’s needed (as we found) is the play-by-play transcript and someone as obsessive as you who will listen. We’re happy to report that the nerd-like joy is practically endless.

It also throws up some pretty fascinating circumstances and, when unleashed on a standard issue poker professional, generates debate almost immediately. Even in the trials prior to the 2011 finals, some players were already talking of how to maximize strategy and, when it came to the finals in London, more than one team employed tactics aimed specifically at gaining an advantage over other teams.

Were they successful? It’s hard to be sure what methods were adopted and by whom. But the German team, who came first, and the Brazilian team, who finished second, both claimed to have used premeditated strategies that led to success. How much the game has evolved since then will become obvious when play starts in Austria.

For more details of the Vienna event check out the IFP website.


New LogoThe International Federation of Poker staged its fourth annual congress in Lviv, Ukraine this week. Of the outcomes from that meeting perhaps most significant from a playing perspective was the new date for the European Nations Cup, which will be staged in London in March 2013.

As in its 2011 incarnation, the Nations Cup will be played by teams representing IFP member Federations, from across Europe. It will also use Match Poker, a variation of duplicate poker, which has been pioneered by IFP. The tournament plays out on multiple tables with players in each seat receiving identical cards to those in the same seat on other tables. Rather than each player competing against those at their table, players take on those in the same seat at other tables across the tournament floor.

Ten teams will complete and, as detailed by the IFP earlier this month, a qualification stage will take place in December to determine which ten teams advance to the London finals, making next month an important time on the IFP calendar.

The event, which runs from 7 to 9 December, is hosted by the Austrian Poker Sport Federation (APSA), and will be played at the prestigious Montessino in Vienna. It’s already set to provide a thrilling demonstration of this most skilful variation of the game.

“Everything is in place to make this an incredible start to the 2013 European Nations Cup – the teams, the players, and an excellent venue,” said Djordje Lovric, President of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Poker Association (APIBIH), part of the organizers behind the event.

“In Match Poker, the IFP has developed an intriguing format with which to play, removing elements of chance and replacing them with pure skill. It means only the best teams will succeed in Vienna and go on to the finals in London.

“The events organisation is thanks to the hard work of APSA President Martin Sturc and also Nikola Peric of the Serbian Poker Federation (SBF). Their hard work will ensure a great tournament next month.”

More details of the event will be on the IFP website in the coming weeks.


Ifp Imagelogo Bluegreen 700pxThe annual Congress of International Federation of Poker proved has proved a triumph in Lviv, Ukraine.Delegates from some 30 countries left Lviv yesterday after achieving all they had hoped at the fourth annual congress of IFP. Hosted at his city-centre British Club by well-known local figure Gary Bowman, a board member of IFP, the three-day Congress focused on the exciting future ahead of this dynamic new international sports federation.

The Congress enjoyed detailed presentations on the online membership platform which IFP plans to launch next year. The IFP board also met with its marketing partner, Mind Sports Partners, to discuss details of the membership offer designed to attract a global community of poker players who enjoy poker purely for the love of the game, with no money involved.

“With an estimated 300 million players worldwide, IFP consolidated its plans for a very exciting future after growing to its present strength in only three years since its foundation in Lausanne,” said IFP President Anthony Holden. “This has been a historic weekend in the history the Mind Sport we all love,” added IFP’s host, Gary Bowman, referring to IFP’s membership of the International Mind Sports Association (IMSA).

Delegates also heard details of IFP’s next event, the European Nations Cup, to be staged in March after a qualifying tournament in Vienna next month. This event uses IFP’s patent Match Poker (a version of duplicate poker) where the same hands are dealt simultaneously at all tables to ensure that skill prevails over chance.

Master of Ceremonies at the Congress was Patrick Nally, the “founding father of sports marketing”, who has built IFP to its current strength of almost 50 member-nations worldwide. The Congress also enjoyed a lavish banquet with music, dancing and celebration after its day-long deliberations, which Patrick Nally saw as “a symbol of the unity and strength of IFP”.

“IFP is very grateful to Gary Bowman for his generous hospitality,” said Holden. “This weekend in Lviv will go down in poker history as a milestone in the growth of this vibrant Federation.”