FAQ on Timeouts

Timeouts and You

** Note: As of WRGPT 23, the server is on Pacific time, timeouts are Four (4) hours, and office hours are Ten (10) hours **

** As of WRGPT 26, Timeouts can never be more than 24 hours so you MUST PLAY on WEEKENDS and HOLIDAYS or you will time out.

Examples below may reference EASTERN time but that is incorrect. This example is to be updated at some point.

Basically, a detailed explanation that was a response to a protest about timing out. This is used here not to embarass anyone but to demonstrate how timeouts are calculated.

(from a WRGPT floorman to a participant - editted from a post on rec.gambling.poker)

A player, we will call him The_Player, wrote to the floorman:

I know that this is my first tournament with you.... but...

I wait for 2 days for one guy to act... and this morning I checked on hand number 4...

I go to work and by the time I get home, the system folded me and says I am on vacation ????????

the first message of the other guys action arrived at 7:14 am... and I am out by 1:18 ???

how come others get a day to act and I get 5 hours ???

The floorman responds:

Here is the hand you question, along with an explanation. I am posting this to RGP as well, since this is apparently still a common mis-conception.

The way the system determines a "timeout" is really quite simple.

When it becomes your turn to act, you have six hours in which to act. If you don't act within six hours, you are placed on vacation, and folded (if there is any bet to be called by you).

Now, because you might be in California, and your opponents might be in Sweden, Australia, Japan, and New York (all over the world), it is impossible to say the above as an absolute. WHICH six hours? If someone in Australia acts at 10 am their time, and thus it becomes YOUR turn to act at 1 am YOUR time, should you "time out" because you don't act by 7 am your time, six hours later? No.

The way it works is that you get six hours. However, YOU get to choose a window, a nine hour frame in which your clock "is running". Outside of your nine hour window, your clock does NOT run. YOU get to choose when that window starts and ends -- it can be ANY continuous segment of nine hours. You should choose a nine-hour block when you can check mail at least once.

Those "windows", called OFFICE HOURS, only operate on weekdays. The clock NEVER ticks on Saturday or Sunday.

Here's two examples, graphed out.

Let's say you're in California, and you play the game mostly from work, 8 am Pacific to 5 pm Pacific. You convert that window to Eastern time (which is where the server is, and how the server "thinks"), which is 11 am to 8 pm Eastern. Thus, you've defined your office hours to begin at 11 am, with a command to the dealer "START 11".

                                    <-----your office hours--->
+-------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 |
+-------------------------------------------------------------------------+

Now, suppose it becomes "your turn to act" at noon on Friday. When will you time out? The following is what happens:


                                    <-----your office hours--->
+-------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 |
+-------------------------------------------------------------------------+
                                       |..1..2..3..4..5..!

You get six hours, and since you're in your office hours NOW, your clock begins ticking at once. Six hours later, your "window" has not yet closed -- your office hours have not yet ended, so you will time out TODAY. This is why you should choose office hours where you regularly check your mail on weekdays.

Now, what happens if it *is* someone in Australia before you, and they act at 1 am "server time", and it becomes your turn to act at 1 am? Here's how that works....

                                    <-----your office hours--->
+-------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 |
+-------------------------------------------------------------------------+
      ^ YOUR TURN ---------->       |..1..2..3..4..5..!

It became your turn at 1 am, but this is outside your office hours, so your "clock is not ticking". You're asleep when it becomes your turn, but this doesn't matter, because your clock will not start until your office hours start -- your clock starts at 11 am Eastern, and six hours after that, you'll time out, at 5 pm Eastern. Thus, if you don't check your mail at work until 3 pm, you MAY time out, but if you get to work and check your mail when you get there, at 11 am Eastern (8 am Pacific), you'll be fine.

Note above you had MUCH more than six hours to act -- you had from 1 am Eastern all the way until 5 pm Eastern to act -- SIXTEEN hours, not six.

OK, so how do players sometimes get "overnight" or "three days" to act? What happens if it becomes your turn to act at 4 pm Eastern on Thursday?


                                    <-----your office hours--->
+-------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 |
+-------------------------------------------------------------------------+
                                                  |..1..2..3..4!

4 pm is within your office hours, and the clock starts at once. However, at 8 pm, your office hours END, and you've only had FOUR HOURS to act. Now your clock has STOPPED ticking, and you still have two hours to go.... What now? Will you time out at 10 pm? NO! You can ONLY time out in your window, in your office hours. Since you still have two hours to go, those two hours will "roll over" to your next office hours, which begin Friday at 11 am Eastern. You don't get a whole new "six hours" when this rollover happens -- you only get the balance. It is like a stopwatch -- it clicks off when your office hours end, and then clicks back on right where it left off, when they open back up. So on FRIDAY, you'll get this:


                                    <-----your office hours--->
+-------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 |
+-------------------------------------------------------------------------+
                                    |..5..6!

You'll time out at 1 pm Eastern time. You had FOUR hours on Thursday, and the other two on Friday, ALL SIX completely within your office hours.

This last scenario is sometimes why players seem not to act or to time out for days upon days. If it was Friday and Saturday above, instead of Thursday and Friday, you cannot time out on a Saturday or Sunday. You'd get the four hours on FRIDAY, and then the other two the next MONDAY, which would give the player nearly three "real time days" in which to act.

The final thing to remember is that when you get a broadcast message that says something like:

Subject: [a00.10089] Holdem Game Broadcast Message(-> Player_B)

! Table a42, Hand 6, Day 15
! Player_A bets $1000
! Player_B is next to act, $1000 to call
! Unlimited raises
! Pot size: $1550
! Next timeout set for Wed, 18 Oct 2000 14:01 EDT

Note that the "next timeout" is on a given date and time. THAT timeout applies ONLY to "Player_B", because it is Player_B's turn to act, and his office hours are such that the dealer has calculated that at 2:01 pm, he will have had six hours WITHIN HIS WINDOW, and will then time out.

If Player_B acts, then the action is on someone else, and the timeout for THAT NEW player will be recalculated. It may be that the new player's office hours are such that the timeout will move BACKWARD. Say Player_B's timeout is October 18th because his window will split, like our third example.... four hours on the 17th and the other two on the 18th, tomorrow. Player_B reads his mail, and folds. Now it is "Player_C" turn to act. HIS office hours are such that his entire six hours will take place today, and *his* timeout will be in the next broadcast message like so:


Subject: [a00.10089] Holdem Game Broadcast Message(-> Player_C)

! Table a42, Hand 6, Day 15
! Player_B folds
! Player_C is next to act, $1000 to call
! Unlimited raises
! Pot size: $1550
! Next timeout set for Tue, 17 Oct 2000 22:34 EDT

-----------------

Therefore, NEVER take a Broadcast message that says "Next Timeout set for" as an indication that YOU will have until that time to act when the action gets to you. "Next Timeout Set For" applies ONLY to the player whose turn it is to act RIGHT NOW, and as you can see, because players' office hours vary, you can timeout yourself, even if you saw a message that says the next timeout was for sometime tomorrow...

Now, to address the specific question about your hand (and for a final example):

! History of this hand:
! 10/12/00 11:03:17! Dealing a new hand
! 10/12/00 11:03:17! No ante
! 10/12/00 11:03:17! Abe Lincoln blinds $25
! 10/12/00 11:03:17! The_Player blinds $50
! 10/12/00 21:54:47! Thomas Jefferson calls

Obviously, if he called, he didn't time out. The shrewd who also use opponents' office hours as "weapons", can deduce from this that Thomas Jefferson's office hours do NOT begin at 11 or 12, or he would have timed out.

! 10/12/00 21:54:47! Theodore Roosevelt calls

Theodore Roosevelt had a minor tell -- since his action is at the EXACT SAME TIME as the one above it, you can tell for certain that this was an ADVANCE action. He had told the computer to call before he knew what Thomas Jefferson was going to do. What you do NOT know is whether he said to call only $50, up to $500, or ANY BET. Because it was an advance action, you know NOTHING about Theodore Roosevelt's office hours, or when his window may be.


! 10/12/00 21:54:47! George Washington raises $50
! 10/12/00 21:54:47! Bill Clinton folds

Two more advance actions at the same time -- same analysis applies.

! 10/13/00 07:25:38! John Adams calls

John Adams calls. From this, you may deduce that John Adams's office hours currently do not begin at 22, or he would have timed out at 7 am. (Note that any player can CHANGE their office hours at any time, so if you "track" players' windows to use against them, note that it can backfire if they've changed).

! 10/13/00 11:37:03! U.S. Grant calls

U.S. Grant called 4 hours later. Four hours tells us NOTHING about his office hours.

! 10/13/00 13:53:13! James Madison calls

Two hours later. No data about office hours.

! 10/13/00 15:56:23! Ronald Reagan calls
! 10/13/00 17:17:32! Abe Lincoln folds
! 10/13/00 21:35:52! The_Player raises $150

A couple other calls, then you RAISE. Again, no data can be gleaned.

! 10/13/00 21:35:52! Thomas Jefferson folds
! 10/13/00 22:47:19! Theodore Roosevelt folds

Thomas Jefferson had an advance action fold, and Theodore Roosevelt folds moments later. Action now falls to George Washington, Friday at 10:47 pm. Because timeouts cannot happen on Saturday or Sunday, and this is late on Friday, it is certain that George Washington will have until SOME TIME on Monday the 16th to act.

! 10/16/00 09:24:13! George Washington calls

George Washington probably plays from work on the East Coast of the USA. He submits a call, and we can tell that his office hours do NOT begin at midnight because he'd have timed out at 9 am if that was so.

! 10/16/00 09:40:22! John Adams calls
! 10/16/00 09:40:22! U.S. Grant folds

John Adams calls QUICKLY (he reads his mail OFTEN, or was just lucky to read it right after George Washington acted), and U.S. Grant had an advance fold.

! 10/16/00 11:08:33! James Madison calls
! 10/16/00 14:04:39! Ronald Reagan folds
! 10/16/00 14:04:39! Pot right ($1325), flopping/dealing/drawing cards
! 10/16/00 14:04:39! 4 players
! 10/16/00 14:04:39! Flopped cards: Kh 8c 8s

James Madison calls 90 minutes later, and Ronald Reagan folds 3 hours after that. This action concludes betting on the round, and we see the flop.

! 10/16/00 14:42:07! The_Player bets $500
! 10/16/00 14:51:40! George Washington calls

YOU bet out, minutes after seeing the flop. George Washington calls very soon after.

! 10/16/00 23:05:00! John Adams folds

John Adams folds. He *could* have timed out (he had at least six hours to act), but you won't know that until the end of the hand. If someone times out, it will not be shown until the end of the hand at showdown. (ed. If a person times out but sends a "back" command before the end of the hand the dealer will not tell the table that they timed out) This was either a timeout, or a deliberate fold. If it WAS a timeout, you would now know precisely when his office hours began. (If he timed out at 11 pm, when action fell on him only nine hours before, his hours MUST begin at 17:00 -- I leave it to the student to figure out why this must be). If it was a deliberate FOLD, we know that his hours CANNOT have begun at 15, 16 or 17.

! 10/16/00 23:05:00! James Madison folds

The was an advance fold -- either outright fold, or "check if no bet, fold otherwise". This ends action for the round, and the dealer puts out the turn, Monday night at 11 pm Eastern.

! 10/16/00 23:05:00! Pot right ($2325), flopping/dealing/drawing cards
! 10/16/00 23:05:00! 2 players
! 10/16/00 23:05:00! Flopped card: 7s
! 10/17/00 09:08:26! The_Player checks

You don't see this until morning, however, and you check at 9 am Eastern.

! 10/17/00 09:17:23! George Washington bets $250

George Washington sees your check, and bets out very quickly. He must check mail every couple of minutes, since he acted quickly both times. (Thus, it is probably pointless to try to figure out his office hours, since he will always get mail within six hours). Action falls to you at 9:17 am on Tuesday morning.

! 10/17/00 15:22:00! The_Player folds

You timed out here, at 15:22. We know this from the bottom of the showdown where it says who timed out in the hand, if anyone.

Now, we KNOW that since you timed out, that your office hours MUST encompass completely 09:17 to 15:22. This is because you had six hours in which to act, *and* it didn't "wrap around" to Wednesday by giving you part of your "clock ticking" on Tuesday, and part on Wednesday.

If your window was 6 am to 3 pm, you wouldn't have timed out at 3:22 pm -- it would have timed you out at 6:22 am Wednesday.

If your window was 10 am to 7 pm, your clock would not have started ticking until 10 am, and your timeout would have happened at 4 pm, not 3:22 pm.

The only three office hours starting times that could possible contain that six hours that you had to act are:

  7 am to 4 pm         8 am to 5 pm          9 am to 6 pm

! Hand over, no showdown
! Current board is: Kh 8c 8s 7s ?
! George Washington wins $2575 (net $1575)
! Antes and blinds go up
! The_Player timed out during this hand

You had a full six hours to act, within your defined window of office hours, but did not do so, so the system put you on vacation and folded your hand because it was $250 to call (which you did not do within the six hours of clock ticking).

If you think you won't often read mail on weekdays during those six hours in which you timed out on that hand, you may want to change the start of your office hours to a time period when you have better access to Email.

Figure out WHICH nine hours you want it to be possible to time out. do so in YOUR LOCAL TIME. Then convert that to USA Eastern Time (which is GMT -0500).

Since you're not going to read mail at work, you don't want to time out while there, but you also may not stay up late enough to handle a timeout at, say, 1 am your time, either. I'd recommend you set your office hours from 1 pm to 10 pm, your time, which is 3 pm to midnight Eastern (if my guess about Mountain time is correct).

Send the dealer a command, just like you would a FOLD or CALL, with the ID=xxxxxx in the subject line.

The command would be START "X" where X is the BEGINNING of the 9 hour time window... in this case, "15": military time for 3:00 pm is 15:00.

START 15

Then, if action falls on you in the morning, you can't time out until 7 pm your time, enough time to get home and check mail. If it falls on you AFTER your evening mail check, say, at 9 pm your time, you'd get an hour that night, and then the other five hours the next business day, from 1 pm to 6 pm your time. (In which case you'd either want to check mail when you get up in the morning, or as soon as possible when you get home from work).

Another example:

(Note: WRGPT15 has a FIVE hour timeout.)

From: Jeff Woods
Subject: WRGPT FAQ about TIMEOUTS
Newsgroups: rec.gambling.poker
Date: 2000/10/17 Here is the explanation for a commonly held misconception about TIMEOUTS
in WRGPT.


Let's say you are "Stephen Beck" in the hypothetical, randomly chosen
table below. (Beck did NOT protest nor, AFAIK, time out -- I just
grabbed a random table). The hand is dealt, and Obleman and Freeman post
blinds at 15:02 on 10/12. Action is on Lee Jones, and you get a
Broadcast message that says "Next Timeout is 10/13 at 10:11". You,
Stephen Beck, have "AA", and you don't want to advance act -- you want to
see the play, and find out whether you should slowplay, or "come over
the top".

  +-+----------------------------+--------+--------+------+----+--------+
  |#| Name                       |Bankroll| Action |Status|Pot#|Pot Size|
  +-+----------------------------+--------+--------+------+----+--------+
   1| Lee Jones                  | 10125  |     50 |folded|    |        |
   2| Chris Moore                |  9975  |      0 |folded|    |        |
   3| Kurt Lueders               | 12775  |    300 |folded|    |        |
   4| John Kullmann              |  9875  |      0 |folded|    |        |
   5|>Stephen Beck               |  8650  |   1200 |      |    |        |
   6| Michael Migliore           |  7050  |      0 |folded|    |        |
   7| Gavin Lazarow              | 11375  |    300 |folded|    |        |
   8| D C Simone                 |  9275  |    300 |folded|    |        |
   9| Eric Obleman               |  8750  |   1200 |      |    |        |
  10| John Freeman               |  8750  |     50 |folded|    |        |
  +-+----------------------------+--------+--------+------+----+--------+

You think "cool, I don't have to check my Email until tomorrow, because
the next timeout isn't until tomorrow morning", so you turn off your
computer, and go watch Ally McBeal.
The next morning, you have several messages in your mailbox at 9 am,
including one that says "Have a nice vacation" -- the system folded you
and your aces are GONE!
Here's what happened. The timeout in a Broadcast message ONLY applies
to the player whose turn it currently is to act. LEE JONES will timeout
if he does not act by 10/13 at 10:11 am. However, let's say Lee folds
his hand right after you turned off your computer, as do Moore, Leuders
and Kullman, who all had advance actions in. Now action is on YOU at
16:12, and YOUR office hours end at 11 pm. Guess what -- NOW the
timeout is not Lee Jones' timeout Tomorrow, but it is YOUR timeout, and
it is at 10:12 pm TONIGHT.
The time of the "next timeout" will CHANGE, each and every time it
becomes someone else's turn to act -- and if the next player's office
hours differ from yours, it is possible for the "next timeout" to come
much earlier than a prior broadcast said it would -- because that
broadcast was not YOUR timeout time, but someone else's.
MORAL: Don't assume that "Next timeout will be at..." means that you
have that long to mull your hand, UNLESS the action is already on YOU.
We've already seen a handful of protests over this, and wanted to
clarify.