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Call the Clock

What Does Calling the Clock Mean?

by Jesse Knight
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Tournament Clock
Call the Clock - When a player is taking too long to act on his hand, another play may “call the clock.” This initiates a process where the floor staff or tournament director will give the offending player a time limit to act on his hand or have it be declared dead.


The amount of time that a player has to act on their hand is undefined, but all players are expected to act within a reasonable time frame. Occasionally, when a player faces a tough decision, the time they take to act on their hand can become excessive. When this happens, the other players can request to “call the clock” on the delinquent player. When the request to call the clock is made, the floorman will be summoned to the table, timer in hand. The floorman will confer with the dealer to verify that excessive time is being taken. Once verified, the floorman will let the tardy player know that he has a distinct period of time to act on his hand (usually 30 seconds to a minute) at the end of which the hand will be declared dead. The floorman will then start the timer, usually giving the player a ten second warning when the time limit approaches. When the timer reaches zero, if the player has not acted on their hand, it will be declared dead.

Mostly, when a player is taking excessive time, it is because they are facing a large bet, and they are having a hard time justifying a call. More often than not, they will ultimately throw their hand away. Quite often they will have made this decision but are having a hard time following through, because letting go is hard to do. Usually, when a player requests a clock be called, the tardy player will complete his action by the time the floorman arrives with the timer. Usually just the threat of having the clock called is enough to inspire the tardy player to act.

Players may request that the clock be called both in ring games and tournament play. It is more frequent to see the request in a tournament, because some players have a tendency to feign deep thought in order to manipulate the tournament clock. This is an ethically dubious thing to do, and the other players at your table may not appreciate it. There are several reasons a player may want to stall in a tournament. Most commonly, it is because they want the blinds to go up before a short stack is able to take them, or they are trying to get the blinds to increase when they are on or near the dealer button. Also, if the players are approaching the money, they may try to stall so that other players at other tables may be eliminated ahead of them.

Usage: Put the Clock on Him, Call The Clock

Previous Poker Term: Calling Station
Next Poker Term: Cap

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