Time Limits & the number of Hands Played

For many transitional players unfamiliar with online play, a major point of contention can be the introduction of ‘time limits’ or ‘time-banks’ and the speed at which new hands are dealt. It was a major hurdle for my friends and I to overcome in our first few online tournaments, and you’ll find the time feature is present almost universally.

With time limits, online players have a set amount of time to take their action before having their hand forcibly folded. These limits will vary significantly, from a few seconds to several minutes depending on the gaming site or room you’re playing in. Some tournaments also include a time bank. While time limits reset after each action in the hand, the time bank is typically a fixed amount of time that a player has for the entire tournament and this time is not restored between hands. Having a set amount of time to act can be a significant adjustment from brick and mortar establishments where a player generally has at least a few minutes to act before having a clock called on them.

These time limits and time banks also really crank up the tempo with speed of play and frequency in errors made. The clock forces players to make quick and semi-reactionary actions, and as a result you typically see a much higher number of hands played per hour. In general this number will be double or triple what you’re used to seeing. This severely limits a player’s ability to think about any decision. Don’t let the clock force you into folding hastily or making a bad call / bet. Obviously don’t ignore it completely, but don’t be afraid to take some time to consider each action. This is why I strongly encourage novices and neophytes to stick to playing one hand at a time and to utilize software applications that allow them to go back later and study the hands they played. With enough practice you will become more and more familiar with this element of online gaming, and the up tempo play style will become a reactionary and second nature.