The latest craze on PokerStars is their ‘Beat the Clock’ tournament format. This guide will explain how it plays out, and the best strategy to beat them.
What is a ‘Beat the Clock’ tournament?
‘Beat the Clock’ is PokerStars latest hyper quick tournament format which caters to the more ‘gamble’ type of players. If you enjoy playing them, it doesn’t mean you’re one of these players, as it is an extremely soft format.
Rules and format
– $1 and $3 buy-ins
– tournament lasts for 5 mins only
– 48 players per tournament
– starting stack is 5 mins
– starting blinds are 200/400 with an 80 ante
– blinds go up every minute for the entire 5 mins of play
– ‘Zoom’ style is applied where you can instantly fold and move on to the next hand
– 4 handed tables
As you can see it is a very quick and efficient format. If you manage to beat the clock and last 5 mins with chips remaining, you will get paid.
The payouts are based on your final chip stack. In the $3 games, each 1,000 chips is worth $0.54. It may not sound like a lot, but you break even with a slight profit if you end with 6,0000 chips, which is just over starting stacks.
In the below example, you can see player “giuu.poker” won $20.21 and there were only 15 players who beat the clock. This player would have had 39,278 chips when the tournament ended. For 5 mins, this is a huge return on investment.
Tips on how to beat ‘Beat the Clock’ tournaments
Once you know the rules, you will likely form some kind of strategy, but is it the right one?
The best players will definitely be able to beat this game, even with the slightly higher rake. Players with experience will know when to shove and know when to fold.
Here are the most important tips to remember if you want to be successful at this tournament format:
This point can’t be stressed enough. You want to see as many hands as possible. Do not tank every decision.
Given that this tournament style forces you to take risks very often, you want to minimize your variance. Think about it. Why do the best players always win deep stacked tournaments? It’s because they play more hands and are better than their opponents over a longer period of time.
Spot the fish
You can bully the fish quite easily in this tournament style. If you spot any of the following, it’s likely they are not great at poker, and will gamble more than others. They also tend to be a bit cautious and try to outlast the clock without taking too many risks. Very poor strategy.
Here is how to spot them:
– they play very slowly, and use their time bank as much as possible
– bronze or chrome stars are displayed next to their names
– they limp a lot of hands with so few blinds
If you exhibit any of these tendencies yourself, you need to work on your game or you will not be successful at this format.
You shouldn’t really be making standard bets or raises in this game. You should be pushing all-in, or folding your hand. There is so much dead money, and you are only ever pushing into 3 other players at most.
Aggressive players get lots of folds. The benefits of this are grinding up a stack quite quickly by picking up the blinds and antes, and getting better hands to fold to you. Once you pick up the blinds and antes a few times, you will also be able to lose a big hand and still have chips left.
You should try and learn more about push/fold charts such as the below, which are very important to understand in the ‘Beat the Clock’ tournament format.
Watch the clock
If you have a huge stack (and I mean 30,000+), you are allowed to sit back a little and burn out the clock. You should keep a close eye on it, as you don’t want to get caught playing too tight too early on, then get blinded away quickly.
Also, if you have a small to medium stack, you want to make sure you get your opportunity to double up before the clock runs out.
Understand pot odds
If someone pushes all-in on you and you’re sitting on a hand like A9, you need to know when you should be calling correctly. In this example, if you think you are up against a top 30% hand, you have approximately 53.63% equity. This means that you’re a very slight favorite.
If you call every time you are offered at least evens (e.g. calling 10,000 to win 10,000), you will be profitable. This tournament format is about the slight percentage advantages.
You can run your own simulations here which give you a good understanding of the required pot odds to call a bet.
Variance is OK!
I promise you that if you play 200 of these, you will go through a patch of 10-20 in a row where you don’t cash. This is simply variance.
As long as you are making the correct decisions as much as possible, you will be able to beat this game given how soft the play pool is currently.