Is there a reasonable way to play Texas holdem in such a way that the game has a time limit? A way you can say "the game ends at 10pm" and then determine the winner/distribute the winnings in a fair way?

Some friends and I like to have a fortnightly poker game. Mainly as an excuse to get us all together as we are busy and don't get as much chance to catch up these days. Sometimes just getting us together is hard enough and because we play on a weeknight, some people become reluctant to commit setting aside a night to play because the games can drag on for hours.

You could stop the game at a certain time and say whoever has the most chips at 10pm gets all the money (we play with 4-6 people with a token $5-$10 buy in just for fun).

Another thing we have tried is when it's down to 2 people, the person with the most wins everything minus the "second place" holders buy-in which they get back.

It always seems murky and potentially unfair whatever we do though because tables can turn quickly and the guy with the most chips at can be broke after just one more hand for example.

Is a time limited game a thing? I have searched and there are all kinds of "limits" but none which seem to limit overall game time.

  • 1
    I've seen timed tournaments online (at sky poker for example). Each players starting chip stack is equivalent to the buy in and when they tournament ends they get back the equivalent. Also if you want to do you own research (as I don't know enough about to answer fully) look up ICM or Independent Chip Model. This is often used as a way of players negotiating final winnings if they want to end early. Feb 20, 2019 at 9:41
  • Do you use progressive blinds? Feb 20, 2019 at 23:05

3 Answers 3


I have not seen anything for an official rules for a time limited game but I have played in settings where there was limited time and players would come and go as they could.

In those situations we would set the chips and the buy in to an amount that can easily be converted back and forth. For example we would set chips to mirror coins (down to the smallest amount you want to deal with) and at the end of the night (or when someone needs to leave) they cash out for how much they had in chips at that time.

Since the games are just for fun there won't be a rush at the end to get a few more chips to win it all but just a general progression to try and at least break even.


Easiest solution is to play cash mode instead of a tournament mode. In cash games every chip is worth money. For example, if you play with 5$ you can give every person 500 chips of 1 cent. at 10:00 PM count the chips and give money accordingly.

  • Maybe I am looking at this wrong but isn't this what I suggested?
    – Joe W
    Feb 20, 2019 at 17:28
  • it is, but I have bold over cash and tournament :). The first time I read your answer I didnt realise I am repeating your answer.
    – Cohensius
    Feb 20, 2019 at 22:09

You could always time the blind increases in such a way that when they get really high coincides with 10pm - you won't be guaranteed to finish at 10 on the dot, but you'd have a good chance of being pretty close to the end.

It's important to strictly observe the increases though. I've played in (friendly) games where we'd sometimes forget to increase the blinds, and after we realise it people would make comments which showed relief etc. ("No hurry", etc.) but this just prolongs the game - which is fine if you're happy to be playing all night, but if you want to be finishing it up in a timely manner, strictness is key.

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