Speed it up, please
There has been plenty of talk about slow games in the poker tournaments. Many well known players have demanded that something should be done about it, and I agree. There is no better way of getting rid of the casual players than making the game so slow it becomes boring to play.
Naturally, there should always be time for a player to make a decision in tough spots and in big pots. But tanking ages in small pots and insignificant places is just nonsense.
Some years ago the idea of a "shot clock" was introduced. In one version of the idea, players would have certain (short) time to act in every hand, and when they would needed extra time they could use their "time bank," just like in online poker. However, it is not clear how easy it would be to introduce any kind of technical apparatus to live poker and how well it would work.
Some sort of shot clock might be necessary in the future, but I would say plenty can be done simply by educating players better about poker etiquette and rooting out some bad habits. For example, there are plenty of players who never look at their hole cards until it is their turn. And after that they contemplate their decision.
This really interrupts the flow of the game and makes it much slower. Imagine a table full of players, and no-one would ever look at their cards or think about their action until it was their turn. To me, that would pretty much be the poker nightmare.
If the players look at their cards once they are dealt to them, they most often already know what to do when it is their turn. And the game flows easy and naturally.
It is small things like these that affect the game most. The really big pots and big decisions are rare, and everyone understands if they take time. Players acting slow or stalling in every hand is what kills the game.
Another thing that I would like to see in the future is shorter starting days in tournaments. Today it is normal for players to grind 11-13 hours in the first tournament day, and in the end of it less than one third of the field is gone. Most of the surviving players feel exhausted, and they have no time to do anything else.
I would like to see antes being used right from the start of the tournament. This would encourage more active play, and I would estimate they could cut out a level or two from the starting day and still get the same results.
Again, if poker tournaments become too exhausting and too much like work, there is very little reason for recreational players to play them. Poker is highly competitive and there are loads of people who take it very seriously. But poker should also be fun. There won't be much fun for anyone if they are only playing a bit over ten hands in an hour until exhaustion.
Ville Walhbeck is a member of Team PokerStars Pro