...use them wisely since they can never be recovered.

The debate rages on as to whether people should use the time allowance allotted to them or not. There are, for me, two main areas to be considered here:

PSO Skill league


PSO Skill league

This animal is different to other MTTs (freeroll or pay to enter) in that one is trying to amass points over the course of a month in order to win some of the $17,000 (at time of blogging) PokerStars pumps into this event. It could almost be said that playing poker is actually secondary to amassing points.

Each individual tournament has a comparitively meagre payout structure with a total of $10 in tournament prize which is spread across, normally, well over 100 players. So the money in any individual tournament is NOT what players should be looking to attain. It is the POINTS that being in the Money (ITM) or passing the Positive Point threshold (a variable point depending on the particular player's playing history) that matters more.

So if points matter more than chips how does one go about getting them? The early stages of the tournament are infested with 'players' who I call the Bingo Betty Brigade. They have two cards, understand that poker has an element of chance involved and slam their entire chip stack in at every hand until (in their mind) they are unasailable and will win the tournament, or until knocked out. (Guess what normally happens :wink:   )  It is imperative that one avoids these loose maniacs as much as possible. The Bingo Betty Brigade end up feeding off of each other with the odd cut and thrust from a Cat 1 hand holder. As the minutes pass more and more of the brigade are knocking each other out and keeping their chip stack warm for the real predators to feed on.

In order to avoid being knocked out in a Negative Point period and damaging one's run for the end of month cash one has to do more than 'just' play poker hands. There are many tools at one's disposal but the most powerfull of all is KNOWLEDGE. Obtaining knowledge takes time.

So by default it makes sense for the serious league player to use his/her time in a professional manner. Well, regardless of poker ability there is one tool that any player can use. The TIME allowance (known as the clock). Each player is given the same amount of clock time per hand and the same clock bank. The PSO league is approx 12 seconds every time the player is active plus a one off 60 seconds at the start of the tournament. What benefits does using the full clock allowance at EVERY hand have? Here are a few examples, which are not exhaustive:
  • Allows the Bingo Betty Brigade to fight each other to the tournament death. The more that are eliminated the less chance we have of being knocked out and the closer to the Positive Points we get without being at risk
  • Disguises our own hands. Consistency at every hand will help to hide what we are playing, which can only be a good thing
  • Time to consider villains' playing styles and note taking (remember notes are not cast in stone. Update them at every opportunity)
  • Put pressure on other players. Some will be bluffing and slam in chips hoping to get quick folds from the table. Taking time to consider each hand will add pressure to the other player/s
  • When ITM using the clock will help the move up the point ladder since many will loosen up since the points between the first person ITM and 4th is minimal and those not near the top of the league board will just take the large point donation at that time. However we are fighting for points and indeed tenths of points here. EVERY SINGLE TENTH OF A POINT COUNTS TOWARDS THE FINAL MONTH END RANKING
When NOT to use the clock:
  • When a player is so short stacked it is shove time regardless. Don't 'waste' time by hanging on. Fold quickly to get the hand done and dusted and another villain eliminated
  • When the blinds are going to change. If you are shortly to be BB or SB and you want to avoid the increased cost for as long as possible (who wouldn't?), fold quickly to get the hand moving
There is a risk that if we wait for Cat 1 hands only we can be Blinded Out of a tournament. This is true; but in the vast majority of cases only playing one or two hands at the right time (pretty much what poker is all about) one can keep in the tournament. I monitor one particular league leader whenever that player is in the same tournament as myself and I have seen that player only play three hands in total and get ITM. It was touch and go twice when critically short stacked but it worked.

There is a strategy called Fold to Win. For the serious PSO League players the strategy is Clock to Win.


A different beast in that the tournament is a one off and one is playing for top spot and money (unless a satellite). Even if a satellite then getting that ticket is all that matters. One could use the same strategy as above but because of the sheer amount of players, and many of them very good at that, we would be doing ourselves a mis-service by using the full clock at every hand and because the chip stacks of the leaders soon gets to such a high level they can bet a standard stack size at ever single hand and not worry if they lose. To be in with a chance one must play hands; but even so the clock still has its uses.
  • The early stages will have its fair share of the Bingo Betty Brigade and using the clock a little at each hand will allow them to feed off of each other
  • As the tournament progresses and we have a read on the table we can just use say 3 or 4 extra seconds of the clock on every hand to help progress through the tournament
  • Once in sight of the bubble and players are getting anxious and slamming all in with mediocre hands in the hope of doubling up, it is a now time to use more of the clock at every hand. Preserving one's own chip stack at this stage is vital since just one hand played can mean being knocked out or doubling up. Let the loose players keep at each other. Use the clock to keep out of danger but ready to pounce when the hand warrants it

Once in the money, use the clock fully at evey hand. Monitor the lobby and watch as you progress UP the money thresholds. More and more players will be throwing all in so by using time wisely we can watch and progress.

For MTT players the strategy is Clock to Win More.