2018 PCA Champ’s Historic Accomplishment Marred By Excessive Tanking

Martin Derbyshire January 18, 2018 2111 Reads
Excessive Tanking in Poker

Maria Lampropulos made PokerStars Caribbean Adventure history last week. She became the first female champion in the illustrious PCA Main Event’s 13-year history, taking down the 2018 PCA $10,300 Main Event at the Atlantis Paradise Island resort in the Bahamas for $1,081,100.

Making the accomplishment even more impressive was the fact it was Lampropulos’ second seven-figure score in less than a year. Back in April 2017, she won the partypoker Millions Live event at Dusk Till Dawn Poker Room & Casino in the UK for £1,000,000.

Clearly, the 36-year-old Argentinian has arrived. Unfortunately, her performance at the PCA final table may be remembered more for all the excessive tanking it featured than anything else.

Lampropulos took her time

To say Lampropulos played slowly and deliberately would be understating it. She took a ton of time to make what appeared to be even the most mundane decisions.

PokerStars went all out on the live stream production. It may have been the highest quality poker stream ever produced. Lampropulos’ excessive tanking rendered it unwatchable at times.

A two-minute preflop tank in an unopened pot with ace-queen in the small blind was one gross example. However, the worst of it was an inexplicable hand where the clock was called on her not once, but twice. She ultimately failed in her attempt to play bluff catcher in the hand, paying off Shawn Buchanan‘s sevens full of aces with just queen-high.

Lampropulos was at least consistent with the excessive amount of time she took on almost every street of every hand. However, from a live stream viewer’s perspective, that just made the whole thing even more maddening.

In big pots with big money on the line, it would be unfair to ask any player to make quicker decisions than they are comfortable with. There is a time and a place where any and all players should be afforded all the time they need. Unopened pots preflop, and hands that look like obvious folds to most, are not those times, no matter where the place.

Plus, if you’re guilty of consistently taking too much time on almost every decision, you cannot expect anyone to be sympathetic to your plight when you find yourself in a real quandary. Think of the boy who cried wolf.

Excessive tanking turns people off

Excessive tankers like Lampropulos need to realize that their behavior is turning people off of the game.

Ultimately that will mean fewer people watching poker. Fewer people watching will mean fewer people playing. Prize pools will suffer.

Those who tank habitually won’t just be ruining what used to be a great source of entertainment for the poker watching public. They’ll ultimately be hurting their own bottom line.

Shot clocks are omnipresent in online poker. Plus, they have been implemented in a growing number of live events around the world to combat the problem. Particularly in high rollers.

The high roller solution

In the wake of the PCA, where he claimed they played less than 15 hands per hour at the final table because of the excessive tanking, German high roller Steffen Sontheimer took to Twitter suggesting tournament directors think about turning off the clock at final tables and setting a specific number of hands that must be played per level.

Tournament director and 2016 WSOP Main Event sixth-place finisher Kenny Hallaert said it would likely only make play last longer.

However, Daniel Negreanu suggested adding a shot clock and playing a set number of hands might work.

It seems a shame that some professionals have a difficult time seeing the forest through the trees here. If everyone saw the big picture on excessive tanking, players could pretty much police themselves.

Unfortunately, they don’t, and it probably won’t be long before every big tournament around the world starts using shot clocks. Or, some other innovative idea like playing a set number of hands per level at final tables.

Then, the next time someone like Lampropulos explodes onto the poker scene with two seven-figure scores in one year, we can be talking more about her great accomplishment and less about how annoying it was to watch.

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