PokerStars Announces More Big Changes

Date: 2017-01-28
Author: Jason Glatzer

PokerStars has already announced a bunch of changes this year. Earlier in the year, they removed the fold button, which wasn’t that controversial a decision.
Last week, they announced that they would be getting rid of their tabbed view due to a minority of their players (including me) claiming it would “benefit your overall playing experience.” This change is planned to go into effect in February.
This week, the Director of Poker Innovation and Operations for PokerStars Steven Rasset announced changes on the PokerStars Blog in a post titled “Improving the game of poker for our customers” that are even bigger. It is certainly debatable whether the changes are good for all of the customers, but it seems that most of them will be good for the majority of them.
First of all, PokerStars will test removing waiting lists with the introduction of Seat Me. What Seat Me will do is put everyone on a global waiting list and remove individual tables from the lobby for viewing. The positives of that is it will completely eliminate waiting lists, which will huge reduce the effectiveness of third party seating scripts used for stronger players to prey on weaker ones. This is something PokerStars promised to combat over a year ago and seems to be following through with its promises.
The goals are to accomplish a few things, mostly a benefit for recreational players including reducing the ability for strong players to bumhunt weaker ones and mimic a live poker experience where players can’t often choose tables. Although I have been at plenty of card rooms that allow you to choose your seat, especially if you want to play with a friend.
PokerStars also plans to introduce time penalties for players frequently changing tables, stealing blinds and sitting out, and refusing to play against certain opponents.
While this seems like a good thing for most recreational players, there are two potential things recreational players may not like about this change. Recreational players sometimes want to play against friends, and now it will be hard to do outside of a home game environment. Secondly, sites that track the high stakes games like HighStakesDB, may have some issues. However, PokerStars could have a solution in the works for the second issue.
PokerStars plans to test this first on PokerStars Spain, a client only available to Spanish players in heads-up sit-and-go’s before further deploying it on other clients and other games.
Another announced change is “improving the payout structure.” One change in this department is that for the lottery-style Spin & Go’s, PokerStars will be reducing the frequency players will play for the highest prize pools and making it that players will more often play for four or six times the prize pool. While this might keep players in action longer, I don’t see how this is a good change for recreational players looking for a big score. It seems more like a rake grab on the face of it, although maybe it will prove to be popular.
Another change announced is the change in payouts in multi-table tournaments. Players on the final table will expect to get paid less, while those just making it past the money bubble will make more. This will definitely be popular among a big subset of recreational players, however, many of this subset also look at the top prizes and dream of hitting them. This seems like it could keep recreational players in action more, so maybe this will be an overall benefit.
The last change announced is something that was already pushed out in December 2016 in On Demand multi-table sit-and-go’s. Basically, instead of a tournament starting when a certain number of players register, it starts at a much lower number and allows players to late register. Overall this seems like a benefit to all players as games should kick off more often.

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