Did Wynn Figure Out the Perfect Bubble Stalling Solution During WPT Prime Championship?

Did Wynn Figure Out the Perfect Bubble Stalling Solution During WPT Prime Championship?

In an attempt to combat stalling near the bubble, Wynn and the World Poker Tour (WPT) made a significant change to the $1,100 buy-in WPT Prime Championship on Day 1.

Many tournament players take issue with incessant tanking from short-stacked players attempting to stall their way into the money. This is especially problematic during major events with massive guarantees. And the WPT Prime Championship had over $10 million in the pot when registration closed during Sunday's Day 1d session.

Wynn Boss Explains Action Clock

Ryan Beauregard, Wynn's Director of Poker Operations, wants the entire WPT World Championship series to run smoothly. One way of doing so is to minimize stalling as best as possible when the big events approach the money bubble.

After Level 15 of Day 1 in the WPT Prime Championship, Action Clocks were implemented at each table. Players were given four time extension chips to start, which can be used in situations that call for deep thought, such as facing a bet for an entire stack with top pair.

The Action Clock gives players 15 seconds to act preflop initially or their hand is declared dead. If, however, a player behind then raises their initial bet, they will be given 30 seconds to act this time around.

"Our goal was to get it started before we hit the money bubble, so that players had an opportunity to get used to it," Beauregard said. "As well, we wanted to make sure it came in when it could do some good."

When the bubble is approaching in any major tournament, short-stacked players often stall as much as possible in fear of busting before reaching the money. The WPT has used the Action Clock for years, but typically much later in the tournament.

Time Extension Chips

At the first break of Monday's Day 2 session, each remaining player received an additional four time extension chips. Four more were added at the start of Day 3 on Tuesday. Once the tournament reaches 24 players, everyone left gets an extra four, and then a final four chips at the start of the final table.

Heading into Day 3, the tournament had just 128 players remaining out of the original 10,512 entrants. First place is set to pay nearly $1.4 million at the Dec. 19 final table.

The tournament structure otherwise didn't change. When the bubble was approaching, hand-for-hand play began and two minutes was automatically taken off the clock for each hand dealt, similar to how operators structure nearly any major event.

"After conversations with (Matt Savage) and the WPT team, we determined this was the right time to try it," Beauregard said. "Especially with the World Championship coming up, our goal is to innovate, to try to change the industry for the better, and we're going to try some things."

The feedback of the pre-bubble Action Clock implementation seems to be mostly positive. Ben Ludlow gave props on X to the Wynn for adding the Action Clock before the bubble. He referred to the process as "smooth and painless."

The first ever $40 million guaranteed poker tournament the $10,400 buy-in WPT World Championship kicked off Tuesday morning inside the Encore Ballroom. Prior to the bubble bursting in that historic event, the Action Clock will be implemented to help speed up the action and prevent short stacks from spending too much time in the tank on hands they instantly know they're going to fold.

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