Online poker rooms and networks are constantly trying to innovate, creating new games in order to keep players interested. PokerStars much by virtue of its standing as the world’s largest online poker room, as added many game types over the last few years (not necessarily their own original creations, mind you), most notably Zoom Poker and Spin & Go’s, with Power Up currently in public Alpha testing. With the booms come the busts, though, and PokerStars recently announced that it is jettisoning Beat the Clock tournaments.
In a short statement, PokerStars said:
We will be making some changes to the client which will involve the removal of Beat The Clock. PokerStars has decided to shelve the timed Sit & Go format to make way for new products that we wish to feature more prominently within the client. This decision has also in part been dictated by the need to cater to evolving player tastes, which inevitably change over time. The game will be removed later today.
And sure enough, Beat the Clock games are no longer in the poker client.
After a limited launch in Russia, Beat the Clock tournaments launched site-wide in November of last year, so the game didn’t even make it to its one-year anniversary.
The way Beat the Clock games worked was fairly simple, though much different than a traditional tournament. The games were 48-player Zoom Sit & Go’s, meaning that once 48 players registered, the tournament began. And, of course, since they were Zoom tourneys, players were sent to a new table as soon as they were out of a hand (though with just 48 players, the table compositions would not vary nearly as wildly as they would in a Zoom cash games). The big twist, though, was that the tournament stopped after just five minutes.
Everyone remaining the tournament then received a piece of the prize pool in proportion to how many chips they held. The formula to determine one’s payout was the player’s remaining chips divided by the total chips in play, with that quotient multiplied by the prize pool. Thus (and I’m just making these numbers up) if there were 144,000 chips in play with a $48 prize pool, a player ending the five minutes with 7,500 chips would win $2.50.
The goal behind Beat the Clock was likely to guarantee players a quick, fixed-length tournament to make it easier to budget their time, while at the same time encouraging lots of frantic action as players raced to build their stacks in order to earn a profit. After all, if a player played too patiently and ended with less than their starting stack, they would win less than their buy-in and therefore lose money. That’s certainly better than winning no money at all, but Beat the Clock did not offer much opportunity to play tight and wait for one’s spot.
PokerStars’ statement was a little vague, but I’m sure it basically boils down to Beat the Clock not being very popular.