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Calling a Clock

Calling a Clock
by Chad Holloway of

Did you know that in both tournament and cash game poker there is an option called "calling a clock?" This option can be exercised when your opponent is taking too long to make a decision; however, you must allow "a reasonable amount of time" to pass.

What a reasonable amount of time is not set in stone, but is rather subjective based upon the stakes and difficulty of the decision. For example, you would extend much more time to a player contemplating a call for his tournament life than you would to a player deciding whether or not to simply call the big blind.

Generally speaking, a clock should not even be considered unless a player has taken a minute or more to act. Most players are more than willing to allow even more time, but one minute seems to be the point where a clock becomes a possibility. However, there are a number of players who believe that the clock should be called almost immediately. Lee Watkinson, who made the final table of the 2007 World Series of Poker Main Event, explains:

"I think a lot of players take far too long when they have no decision to make. There are some players who will ALWAYS make you sweat out a big bet or raise against them for five minutes. These are players I think should be okay to call the clock on as soon as you make a bet. If they don't do this I never call the clock. In fact I think I have only called the clock about three times, except for when a guy was deliberating not folding to stall before the flop.

I hate the rule where you must wait a 'reasonable amount of time' to call the clock - one minute ten seconds is enough and there shouldn't be an arbitrary decision required by the floor. How much is a reasonable amount of time for Phil Hellmuth as compared to Joe the poker player? I would like to see the dealers with a clock in their tray that is automatically set, like speed poker tournaments in fact, with some kind of extra time chips for the players to use during a tournament."

Clearly some players need time to make a tough decision. This could be due to a number of reasons; for example, the money on the line could mean more to one player than another, it takes an amateur longer to calculate odds than a more experienced player, or maybe the player just wants to take some time to try and make a read.

Whatever the case may be, calling the clock should not be an option that is abused, unless of course a player is repeatedly abusing the amount of time being allotted to him.

I rarely see the clock called at a poker table mainly because the other players at the table respect the stress associated with making a tough decision; after all, a situation might arise later on when they need some extra time to make a decision. If that happens, would they want a clock called on them? For more information on why you shouldn't call a clock, and why most poker professionals avoid doing so, please see the article entitled Why You Shouldn't Call a Clock.


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