Posts Tagged ‘game’

PokerStars Testing Shorter Time to Act at Select Cash Game Tables

 PokerStars Testing Shorter Time to Act at Select Cash Game Tables

In what seems to be a never-ending effort in the poker industry to speed up the games, PokerStars announced last week that it will be conducting a trial of some new “time to act” settings at its cash game tables. Announced in a post on the corporate blog, the goal of the new settings is to try to reduce the impact of unnecessary tanking.

“One of the most frustrating aspects of playing cash games can be making a disciplined fold and then having to wait for your opposition to play out a painfully slow hand before you get to make your next decision,” wrote Dan Price, the PokerStars Ring Games Manager. “Unsurprisingly one of the most common complaints we receive is about opponents taking forever over the simplest decisions… even going into their time-bank just to fold pre-flop!”

To that end, PokerStars is implementing the trial of the new “time to act” settings on a limited set of tables today. At the ultra-micro stakes – $ 0.01/$ 0.02 No-Limit Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha – the time a players has to make a decision has been reduced.

On the other cash game tables, and on these tables prior to today, players have 18 seconds to act pre-flop if not facing a raise and 25 seconds to act pre-flop when facing a raise and in all situations post-flop.

Now, on the trial tables, those time limits have been reduced to 12 seconds and 15 seconds, respectively.

Knowing that there are some situations in which a player needs more time – perhaps a tricky board with one’s entire stack at risk – PokerStars has not changed the time bank rules. Everyone starts with 30 seconds in their time bank (an extra bucket of time a player can use if the regular timer elapses) and gets an extra 10 seconds after every 50 hands played with a maximum of 600 seconds in a time bank.

“We will monitor the impact that these changes have on the games and will, as always, listen closely to the feedback of our players,” Price wrote. “We seek to keep our games fun, exciting and engaging for all players but appreciate that there may be some players who are upset with the new pace of the game. However, we are confident that this is a big step in the right direction for the vast majority of players.”

Of course, those who have absolutely no patience and can’t even wait even a few seconds for other players to act can always play poker over at the Zoom Poker tables, where players get whisked away to a new table and a new hand right after they fold. Problem solved!

To clarify, though, the time to act rules have not changed for the Zoom Poker tables, nor have they changed for tournaments. Right now, it is at the $ 0.01/$ 0.02 No-Limit Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha cash game tables only, though we should probably expect it to be expanded to other cash game tables once the trial period ends.

Poker News Daily

Ignition Casino Switches to Quick Seat Cash Game Lobby

 Ignition Casino Switches to Quick Seat Cash Game Lobby

Ignition Casino and its twin online poker room, Bodog, recently made a major change to their cash game lobbies, moving from the traditional table listing to what the poker rooms call the Quick Seat lobby.

This lobby variation is nothing new; it has been around in the online poker world for years. What makes this interesting is that it is now the only way to find a cash game seat at Ignition Casino. The way we have been used to for as long as internet poker has existed is now gone. No more perusing the list of open tables, no more seeing what the average pot size and percent of players to the flop are, no more ability to open a table to see who is playing.

Now on Ignition, players will just choose their stakes, the maximum table size, the game (Texas Hold’em, Omaha, or Omaha Hi/Lo), and game variation (No-Limit, Pot-Limit, or Fixed-Limit). When all that is settled, the poker client will find the proper table and seat the player.

It looks like the idea behind the change is to protect recreational players from being targeted by sharks throughout the lobby. With no ability to find their prey, sharks can’t really hunt anyone down anymore. When they can’t do that, the recreational players will likely not lose their money as quickly, not only keeping money in the poker economy but also increasing the chances that they reload after going busto. Plenty of people have fun while losing money and the longer it takes to go broke, the more probably it is that the players still enjoy themselves.

Oddly, Ignition already had anonymous tables, so it was already next to impossible for any recreational players to be preyed upon. Perhaps the Quick Seat lobby is just a way to cover hat one percent of the time sharks were still able to target weaker players.

Reviews of the new system have been mixed in the poker community. While many applaud Ignition for taking another step to making online poker just about poker and taking away much of the edge third-party software tools provide, others feel the Quick Seat lobby just makes playing more difficult.

The way it makes it more difficult is that most people have certain preferences when it comes to the games they play. Some like starting new tables. Others only want to play at full tables. The Quick Seat lobby doesn’t allow players to choose. Thus, if someone who hates starting a table or playing ultra-short-handed ends up at an empty table, they will either leave and try again, sit out until more players arrive, or play begrudgingly. None of these options is ideal.

At the same time, some players have reported having great success with Quick Seat, especially multi-tablers. Quick Seat guarantees players will get into a game, as opposed to a traditional lobby that often has just a couple tables of a certain type with long waitlists.

Poker News Daily

PokerStars Alpha Testing Bonkers New Power Up Poker Game

 PokerStars Alpha Testing Bonkers New Power Up Poker Game

Hold onto your butts, everyone. A new poker game from PokerStars is in the pipeline. And this isn’t just another Spin & Go or Zoom Poker variation. Power Up, now in very limited Alpha testing, is something that takes a game of hold’em and quite literally adds new cards that give players the power to transform the hand. In Power Up, the players get magic powers. They even get magic powers to counteract each other’s magic powers. I’m dead serious about this.

In a post on the PokerStars blog, PokerStars Director of Poker Innovation and Operations Severin Rasset explained that his company has “been putting significant resource toward poker innovation.”

“The common goal of these innovations is continue to maintain a high level of engagement from our active players, to reactivate players that may be tired of playing poker as it is today, and to speak to potential players that haven’t discovered the game yet,” he added.

Then he explained Power Up and what is going on with the game:

Today, the latest of our innovations, PokerStars Power Up entered Alpha testing. It’s a combination of traditional enjoyable No Limit Hold’em injected with powers that give players the ability to influence how hands play out and change up game play in a variety of ways with boards, cards and chips. This project introduces a lot of new features to poker that we have built from scratch and it’s taken a lot of time and effort to get to this stage in the game’s life. We balanced the game for six months in a sandbox environment with a group of very high volume experienced poker players and gamers to attempt to break the game in every possible way. We integrated a new engine within our software, created animations and powers, and put a lot of time and thought into how poker players will have fun with the game.

Let’s back up. While PokerStars has revealed little about how Power Up works, here’s what we can glean from the short, 35 second video and pictures on the blog:

Power Up is a hold’em game (perhaps some sort of short-handed Sit-and-Go contest, but we can’t be sure) in which, in addition to hole cards, players get special power-up cards. These cards can be used at various spots in a hand – maybe each betting round, if desired – to completely alter the hand. Some power-ups change cards. Some remove cards. Some add cards. Some let players see cards to come.

Based on a screenshot of these power-up cards, here is a list of at least some of them:

Clone – receive a copy of the last power played this hand
Disintegrate – Destroy a targeted board card dealt this street
EMP – prevent powers on this street
Engineer – choose the deck’s next card from three options
Intel – view the deck’s top card for the rest of the hand
Reload – redraw selected hole cards
Scanner – view the top two cards in the deck; choose whether to discard them
Upgrade – draw a third hole card, then discard one
X-Ray – force all opponents to expose one hole card

There very well may be more power-up cards; those were just in the screenshot. Additionally, there appear to be point values assigned to each card. Mediarex Sports & Entertainment, owner of the Global Poker Index, introduced a similar game a year ago called HoldemX, also in Alpha testing. Power-up cards in that game, called “xcards,” also had point values. Players were given a points budget before a match and could select a number of cards to have on hand using the point values and budget as a guide. It is possible that the points on the power-up cards work the same way.

This game obviously alters the skill aspect of poker, as someone getting outplayed can reverse the flow of a game through the use of the power-up cards. At the same time, the use – and possible pre-game selection – of these cards is a skill in and of itself, so people who are used to the machinations of a game like Hearthstone may already have a step up on the competition.

As mentioned, Power Up is only in Alpha testing right now. PokerStars has sent invitations to a select number of play money players in the United States to help provide feedback and make sure everything works on a technical level.

Poker News Daily

Virginia Senate Passes Poker “Game of Skill” Bill, Future Unknown

 Virginia Senate Passes Poker “Game of Skill” Bill, Future Unknown

In a highly contentious vote, the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Senate voted to classify poker as a “game of skill.” The future of the Senate bill? That is unknown, but it opens the doors for a plethora of outcomes.

The vote in the Senate was as close as you can get. After the polling was complete, the issue garnered the same number of votes for each side, 19-19, meaning that Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam’s vote was necessary to break the tie. His “aye” vote for passage cleared the way for the bill to now be considered by the Virginia House of Delegates.

The Senate bill, S1400, was originally introduced by Senator Louise Lucas, who was sure that the bill would get out of the Senate chambers. “I had the law on my side,” Lucas commented before the hearing in the Senate committee that would end up passing. This was the third year in a row that Lucas had proposed such legislation, with the bill in previous years dying in the same committee that passed it in 2017.

The bill itself only changes the language in Virginia statutes regarding its definition of poker as a “skill” game and not illegal gambling. The full bill language is as such: Poker; definition of illegal gambling and charitable gaming; poker games authorized; regulation of poker tournaments. Provides that poker is a game of skill and therefore not illegal gambling. The bill also allows a qualified organization to conduct poker games in conjunction with its charitable gaming activities, but does not allow a charitable organization to conduct poker tournaments. The bill requires the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Charitable Gaming Board to regulate poker tournaments, defined in the bill as a competition organized for the purpose of conducting poker games at one or multiple tables where (i) competitors play a series of poker games, (ii) prizes are awarded to winning players on a fixed or proportional payout basis, and (iii) the total prize amount awarded to all winning players at the event is $ 50,000 or more. Finally, the bill requires poker tournament sponsors to obtain a permit before conducting a tournament and tournament managers and operators to be registered with the Department.

Nowhere in that definition change does it state the future of poker in the state. There are several paths that could be taken in the coming months.

The first is that there could be absolutely nothing done. The Virginia House of Delegates is a notoriously anti-gaming bunch, but of late there has been some changes that the body has allowed. The state offers a lottery, pari-mutuel betting and, in 2016, opened the doors for daily fantasy sports (DFS) inside the state. Whether the House is ready to allow for poker’s decriminalization, however, is unknown.

If the House were to vote through S1400 and Governor Terry McAuliffe (a Democrat) signs it, then several options are available. The opening of casino gaming could be in play as Virginia, with Delaware, West Virginia and Maryland located around it all having some form of casino gaming and/or poker, might be interested in keeping some Virginia residents’ money inside the state. There is also the potential for online poker to come to the fore for the Cavalier State.

Online poker would be the first foray into the industry for the state and they may have the population to make a difference. Virginia, with its estimated 8.4 million residents, is the 12th largest state in the country and is almost the equal of another state that has online casino gaming, New Jersey (8.9 million). Numbers from the barely three-year old New Jersey online casino gaming industry, where there has been over $ 476 million in revenues and $ 71 million in taxes paid by the operators, have been strong even though they were originally overestimated by the state’s Governor, Chris Christie.

This is critical as Virginia legislators look for an injection of funds into the state coffers. In 2014, the state estimated that there would be more than a $ 1 billion shortfall in the budget, with significant cuts potentially on the horizon. Online gaming (if the numbers were like New Jersey’s figures) and casino gaming could be something that Virginia legislators might by eying as a potential to offset the state’s financial woes.

This discussion is quite premature, however, as the bill still must get through the House and get the signature of McAuliffe. Currently there is no discussion planned for S1400 in the House, but that can change quickly. The move to make poker a “skill” game in Virginia may be nothing more than a legal clarification but, if passed, it would open the doors for quite a bit more for the state.

Poker News Daily

partypoker Adds New Tournament, Cash Game Variation

 partypoker Adds New Tournament, Cash Game Variation

It is always fun getting something new, which is one reason why the current holiday season is fun. Who doesn’t like presents? Yesterday, partypoker gave its players a treat (well, we should probably see if everyone likes it before calling it a ‘treat’), as it launched two new games in the poker client: Progressive Knockout tournaments and Fast Five cash games.

Progressive Knockout tournaments are something that should be a big hit with action-lovers. The concept of a knockout tourney is nothing new; part of every buy-in is used as a bounty on each player’s head. When someone is eliminated from the tournament, the person who won the hand receives that player’s bounty as a cash reward. Thus, it is entirely possible to profit in a tournament in which a player doesn’t actually “make the money.”

A Progressive Knockout tournament works largely the same way – and is also probably familiar to most players, even though it is new to partypoker – but with one main difference. Instead of receiving their victim’s entire bounty, the hand’s winner receives half of it, while the other half is added to their own bounty. A player who has a hot run and knocks out several players will their bounty grow quickly – especially if they eliminate players who have accumulated bounties themselves – and will become quite an attractive target to their opponents.

There are three Progressive Knockout tournaments on the schedule per day. The $ 5.50 buy-in event puts  a $ 2.50 starting bounty on each player’s head, the $ 22 buy-in comes with a $ 10 bounty, and the $ 109 buy-in comes with a $ 50 starting bounty.

The remainder of the buy-in goes to the prize pool and the top finishers are paid like in any other tournament, just with a smaller total prize pool than normal. The tournament winner also receives their own bounty.

Fast Five cash games are basically dumb exercises in luckboxing. They are six-handed cash games in which each player begins with just five big blinds. Seriously. It’s an all-in or fold situation from the start. And even then, the “fold” option is dubious. Might as well play casino war or flip coins. But hey, “The fixed buy-in keeps the game fast and fair.”

I suppose. I mean, I guess a little skill is involved in deciding what hand to shove with when not in a blind, but that’s an admitted stretch.

On the partypoker blog, Group Head of partypoker Tom Waters said of the new additions:

Today we launch two new products on partypoker that will suit both tournament and cash game players. Progressive Knockout tournaments are a popular format in the poker community so it was important to respond to feedback and offer these on partypoker. Fast Five is a fun, fast-paced cash game, suitable for players with only a short amount of time but wanting action quickly.

Poker News Daily



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