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    It’s All in the Timing

    Posted by Coffee September 24, 2013

    Danny Biasone was the founding owner of the Syracuse Nationals of the National Basketball Association. Though the team still persists to this day (as the Philadelphia 76ers), Biasone’s most recognized act was his advocacy of the shot clock for professional basketball games. Prior to its inclusion, games were slow-paced and difficult to watch. A game in 1950 between the Minneapolis Lakers and the Fort Wayne Pistons famously ended with the score 19-18.

    Today, such a score would be unusual for even a single quarter, much less an entire game. Basketball’s popularity is second only to football, and is a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Most sports, from football to billiards, have successfully implemented a time limit in order to move play along at a reasonable pace. One of the chief complaints that exists about baseball, another untimed game, is that its pace is too slow.

    Poker is suffering through a similar crisis. The slowdown antics of players such as Chris Ferguson and Yevgeniy Timoshenko create a game that is boring to play and even more boring to watch. The final table between Greg Merson, Jesse Sylvia and Jacob Balsiger was one of the most painful poker-watching experiences I can remember, due to the inordinate amounts of time that Balsiger and particularly Sylvia were allowed for each decision.

    At the table, each player is afforded the option of calling a clock on a player at any time. However, the reigning etiquette states that to do so is something of a faux pas. Unfortunately, in this writer’s opinion, poker will never make a jump beyond the heights of the post-Moneymaker boom if an effort is not made to speed up the pace of play. The inclusion of a clock can only help to improve the game’s watchability and marketability.

    Obviously, the logistics of such an implement present challenges of their own. There will be some massive growing pains associated with such a move. Implementing a shot clock for tournament poker only might be a baby step towards general acceptance. At the very least, all televised poker should have the ability to move the game along.

    Watching someone blink for three minutes can seem like three hours if you’re playing at the table. Watching someone blink for three minutes on TV can seem like an eternity.

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