Just a question, since I don't think you mentioned this. Do you allow people to be on their phones? Is that contributing at all? It sure seems like that's one that causes issues these days. I think it would help to really know if your players are taking a long time because they're not paying attention, or just talking to the other players, or what. Oh, I have another question or two, actually. Are these generally the same players as when your game ran faster? What is the opinion of the players towards how slow it moves? Do they care? Would they be responsive to you telling them that the game is moving too slow and they need to speed up? Again, having the dealers commit to moving the game along is a good idea, for sure, but to be fair, even if the dealers are doing everything they can, the game won't move as fast as you'd like if the players aren't interested in taking a reasonable amount of time to act. I hope this situation improves, to be sure.
Hi! Gonna try to answer them all
I don't have rules regarding phones, but they don't seem to be doing any harm as I've hardly seen anyone fiddle with there phone and people usually leave the table to take calls. The issue has been that they don't pay attention, but it has actually improved a lot. Especially last tourny, I'll get back to that!
The players from the old days don't slow down the game, it is (or was) generally the newer players. They don't seem to mind that the game is slow (and they don't seem to understand that their slowness ruined the poker night for others), they just want to have a good time, have a drink and see an occasional flop. But as we all know, it's definitely possible to have a good time, drink, be involved in all sorts of discussion without slowing down the game!
So what changed last tourny? Well, I wanted to try antes and was very worried that this would make things even worse. To solve this I put together a flyer (inspired by Nerre) with
1) the blind structure,
2) the tournament setup (rebuys, addons etc)
3) short instructions for dealing (with a few unconventional tips I've invented myself)
4) a few tips on how to keep the game flowing
A few copies of the flyer was placed on each table.
I think (1) did nothing to the speed. (2) meant we could start 10 minutes earlier since I didn't have to explain to everyone and answer questions, and re-explain to latecomers.
Regardless of if the text in (3) was followed or not, players knew that when picking up the deck they were expected to pay attention and keep the game going, and it felt as if the dealers where generally more present in the hands than before.
The same with (4), those who didn't read or follow the tips at least knew that a certain level of attention was expected of them.
So even though we played with antes, this was the best tournament in a long time with regards to speed!
Naturally, I got a lot of needling for this! And the time I got reminded it was my turn they really let me have it! As they should
So in short: Ever since we started playing again around two years ago the speed has gone from terrible to almost acceptable, and the last tourny had excellent speed even though we used antes!