It’s PokerStars newest poker variant and it’s strikingly different than anything else.
We’re referring to PokerStars’ Beat the Clock hyper turbo 48-player Sit & Go’s.
Beat the Clock ignores some pretty fundamental rules of poker by putting players on a 5-minute clock and simply paying out every one that survives those turbulent five minutes based on the chips they acquire.
It’s likely the fastest tournament variant ever created and it can be very addictive.
So are Beat the Clock tournaments actually beatable long-term?
That’s questionable (10% rake makes it difficult) but they are generally very soft. Beat the Clock tournaments are also fantastic for action junkies who don’t mind the high variance involved.
It’s not just a gambling game, however, and there are some simple steps you can take to dramatically increase your win-rate that we’ll take a look at below.
Standard $1 Beat the Clock Structure
Before we get started here’s some key information on the standard $1 Beat the Clock tournament:
Format: Zoom Poker No-Limit Hold’em Hyper-Turbo Sit & Go
Buy-in: $1 ($.90 + $.10 in rake)
Starting Stack: 5,000 (12.5 BB)
Blinds: 200/400 with a 80 ante
Blinds increase every minute. Here’s the complete structure:
Level 1 — 200/400 with a 80 ante
Level 2 — 250/500 with a 100 ante
Level 3 — 300/600 with a 120 ante
Level 4 — 400/800 with a 160 ante
Level 5 — 500/1000 with a 200 ante
15 Beat the Clock Tips
1) In case you haven’t figured it out: this is a shove/fold game. You shouldn’t be calling very often and you’re not going to see many flops.
2) Your chips have value similar to a cash game. Your 5,000 starting stack is worth exactly $.90. If you have 10,000 chips when play ends you’ll earn $1.80. Keep that in mind.
3) Safe is dead. If you’re a tight player you’re going to have to loosen up exponentially in Beat the Clock. A 12.5bb stack and blinds that go up every minute mean it’s shove time.
4) Be aware that Beat the Clock is extremely swingy. You can brick 10 tournaments in 20 minutes easy. On the other hand you can quickly rattle off a couple big-stack wins to get even.
5) Playing more hands > bleeding antes. This is a tough balance because you can lose a ton of antes and blinds by jamming that fast-fold button but the ultimate goal is to find a good hand and double up. Simply surviving isn’t good enough.
6) Due to the speedy nature of Beat the Clock tournaments it’s easy to generate VPPs very quickly. Just make sure you don’t dust your bankroll in the process.
7) Are you familiar with Push/Fold strategy? Learn it. Love it.
8) Initiative is very important in Beat the Clock. You’ve got to be shoving a lot from UTG and the button. Be the aggressor.
9) Keep an eye on that clock in the bottom right at all times. When it reaches one minute you’re probably only going to get one or two hands in.
10) There is a bubble surrounding the end of play. Generally you want to pressure any players that are simply trying to limp into the money. You should also remember that if you limp into the money with a very small stack you’re still actually LOSING money so it’s not worth it.
11) One good hand can get you into the money. Let’s say you double up on the first hand of the tournament from the button. That’s 10,000+ chips, which is equivalent to about $2 or roughly double your buy-in.
12) Sometimes you’ll bust out of these things on the first hand and it will absolutely be the right play. Forget it. On to the next one.
13) Most Zoom Poker strategy is still relevant to Beat the Clock. Keeping notes on players is very difficult because they change so frequently.
14) Prey on weakness. If you’ve got three limpers in a pot you should be shoving with a wide range of hands. It’s easy to underestimate just how valuable these pots are.
15) You should primarily focus on acquiring chips instead of your position in the tournament. Remember you’re paid out based on your chips, not whether you finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd.