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Author Topic: Speeding the game up  (Read 444 times)
tore
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Posts: 41



« on: Feb 07, 2017 at 18:48 »

Sorry if this is covered elsewhere.

Back in the good ole days of the poker boom the speed of my home games was really fast. I don't mean the aggressiveness, I mean how fast players acted when it was there turn. People hardly ever zoned out and the only topic discussed around the table was poker. I remember playing single table turbos (10 players) with 10 minute blind levels and making more than one rotation per level!

Nowadays we barely make a rotation on 15-minute levels, and once on a particularly bad night we actually averaged about 5-6 hands per 18-minute level! It's so sad when a decent structure turns into a turbo... (I know I should ideally have 20-30 minute levels, but the good news here is that I have too many players to allow for standard blind lengths)

Do you guys have any tips for me? The tips I have for you, which are tried and tested and actually work quite well (albeit not well enough) are:

  • Have a maximum of 8 players per table. (makes it more fun as well, but that's of course subjective)
  • Give the dealer the obligation to get the game going. What I mean is:
    • After the cards are dealt, the dealer is obliged to (politely) say "...and you're up" to UTG, before the dealer is allowed to look at his/her cards.
    • If someone zones out when they're up (which looks exactly like a player pondering a decision, so it's impossible to tell them apart), the other players are not to blame the player for this, but blame the dealer for not keeping track of the action. (This is to re-enforce the dealer's obligation to keep the speed up. And "blame" is meant jokingly of course)

The dealer's obligation to keep everyone on track works pretty well pre-flop, but not post-flop. Ideally the dealers would verbally call the action, but that would make the game appear too serious for the players who only join occasionally, which cater for over half of the playing field. Also, I'm afraid that the obvious solution to simply tell everyone to get their act together would scare them away.

So, are there any good ideas out there? :-)

Ps. Yes, we use 2 decks per table!
« Last Edit: Feb 07, 2017 at 19:03 by tore » Logged

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Nerre
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Posts: 1125


« Reply #1 on: Feb 09, 2017 at 14:08 »

I put together a short dealer training for a just for fun play money tournament for our scouts a few years ago, there I list the dealer's tasks:

- Control the game
- Maintain the integrity of the game
- Manage the pot
- Protect the muck
- Monitor compliance to rules (enforcing rules is made by the TD)

Oh right, shuffle and deal too.


So yes, controlling the game is part of the dealers job.


I also have a slide listing all the steps the dealer performs during a hand:
- Call for blinds
- Shuffle
- Check that blinds are posted
- Deal hole cards
- Notify players of their turn
- Announce bets
- Muck folded cards
- Collect the pot
- Rap the table (next street coming)
- Burn and deal the flop
- Notify players of their turn
- Announce bets
- Muck folded cards
- Collect the pot
- Rap the table (next street coming)
repeat for turn and river
- Showdown
- Read hands and muck losing hands
- Award the pot
- Move the button
- Muck the winning hand and the board
and then the next hand starts.
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tore
Player
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Posts: 41



« Reply #2 on: Feb 10, 2017 at 11:29 »

Thanks, very interesting!

It would no doubt be great to educate the players on this. A bit worried I'd scare them of by making the game too serious, though. I'll look through your list and cherrypick what I add to my tournament rules.

"So yes, controlling the game is part of the dealers job."

I agree! Hasn't always been like that among my friends. A normal way of handling the dealer's responsibility used to be:
Dealing the cards, looking at your cards directly after dealing (meaning nobody reminds UTG that it's their turn until after a minute), waiting for your turn to fold, zoning out, being reminded that it's your turn, folding, zoning out, having to be reminded to deal the flop, zoning out, having to be reminded to show the turn card, zoning out, then realizing you're the dealer meaning you panic and prematurely deal the river card...

It's much better now, though! I'll add to the list but I have to take baby steps...
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Nerre
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Posts: 1125


« Reply #3 on: Feb 11, 2017 at 15:07 »

No need to educate the players, you only need to educate the dealers.

(I do advocate dedicated dealers Smiley )

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TwoToGo-Grave
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Posts: 3120


« Reply #4 on: Mar 11, 2017 at 03:18 »

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.
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Nerre
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Posts: 1125


« Reply #5 on: Mar 11, 2017 at 17:40 »

I don't host games that often nowadays, but my house rules say that use of any communication device at the table is strictly forbidden. If you want to use your phone you will have to leave the table.

Phones can be used for collusion or other ways of cheating.
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tore
Player
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Posts: 41



« Reply #6 on: Mar 15, 2017 at 16:34 »

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  Smiley

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! Smiley

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  Wink

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! Grin
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