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PokerStars Launches Beat the Clock Tourneys

PokerStars introduced a new game variation today and for once, it wasn’t a type of Spin & Go. In “Beat the Clock” games, it is not winning that matters (it still does, of course) as much as it is not getting eliminated.

That may sound like the same thing, so allow me to explain. PokerStars Beat the Clock games are one dollar, 48-player Sit-and-Go tournaments played with the fast fold, Zoom Poker format. As a reminder, that last part means that as soon as a player folds, he is taken to a different table to immediately play a new hand. In a large enough Zoom Poker cash game pool, this may mean that a player won’t see the same opponents for quite some time, but with a field of only 48, the same players will be facing each other over and over again.

The big catch in Beat the Clock, though, is that all games last five minutes, max. They could end before that if 47 players are eliminated, but even if multiple players are still alive, the tournament will end automatically after five minutes.

Anyone remaining at the tables when the five minutes are up will receive a cash prize based on how many chips they had at the buzzer. Let’s look at an example of how this works, straight from PokerStars:

Each tournament has 240,000 chips in play (starting stacks are 5,000 chips) and a total prize pool of $ 43.20 (10 cents of the dollar buy-in is removed as the tourney fee). If a player has 12,000 chips when the time runs out, that means he has 5 percent of the chips in play. Multiply that 5 percent by $ 43.20 and you get $ 2.16, which is the prize that player will receive.

Depending on how the math works out, some prizes could be rounded down to the nearest cent, but fear not – PokerStars isn’t taking that money in an Office Space-like scheme. The rounded-off pennies will be added to the winner’s cut.

At first glance, it looks like it could be possible to just fold one’s way to a profit, or at least play extremely tight, but that will probably be quite difficult. The tables in Beat the Clock tournaments are only four handed, so blinds will come around frequently. Blind levels are also only one minute long. Add in the Zoom Poker element and everyone will be involved in hands non-stop, making it extremely hard to just try to hang on and finish out the five minutes with chips.

At the same time, these could very well smooth out variance compared to regular Zoom Poker tournaments. The bigger wins might be harder to come by, but that will be evened out by more small cashes (even if they are for less money than the buy-in), rather than straight busts.

In a press release, Severin Rasset, Director of Poker Innovation and Operations at PokerStars said, “We are constantly looking to innovate at PokerStars and believe Beat The Clock is a great new addition to our poker offering. It’s the perfect format for those who want to fit in some quick, intense poker action and is ideal for mobile play, where, in just five minutes, players can experience all the emotions and excitement that only poker provides.”

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