Posts Tagged ‘pokerstars’

PokerStars Rolls out Early Payout Tournaments

 PokerStars Rolls out Early Payout Tournaments

PokerStars continues to tweak its offerings, popping the cork on a new tournament feature. And when I say tweak, I mean just a little tweak. The new feature is the “Early Payout Tournament,” which is exactly what it appears to be from the name.

In an Early Payout Tournament, every player remaining in the contest receives the minimum cash amount as soon as the money bubble bursts. The tournament then proceeds as normal and when players are knocked out, they receive the difference between the minimum payout and their total payout amount. That is, they get the remainder of the payment that they are due.

PokerStars displays a pop-up message at the table to remind the players that they have received the min-cash. Funds are immediately deposited in players’ accounts.

While nice, I guess, the Early Payout Tournament feature is clearly not a big deal in the slightest. Everyone is going to receive their money eventually, so whether it is a little of it immediately or all of it a few minutes or a few hours later is really going to meaningless to most people.

The idea behind this is to allow players who may have used the last of their funds for the tournament buy-in to be able to instantly have money in order to quickly join another tourney, cash game, or Sit-and-Go. It is positioned as a good thing for players, which I suppose it may be, but it is pretty clearly a way for PokerStars to encourage people to get their money back in play as quickly as possible to keep the rake train chugging along.

PokerStars bills it as giving players “options,” but I cannot imagine this is an option for which many players were clamoring. “I NEED my ten dollars RIGHT NOW! I can’t wait until I get knocked out!”

The Early Payout Tournament will not likely affect a high percentage of tournament players. It will specifically affect those who are out of money on deposit and are really jonesing to enter another game as they are still playing in the tournament. Most players on PokerStars won’t really care about Early Payouts though, as they won’t a) be totally out of money, and or b) have the uncontrollable urge to register for another game right then and there.

Most players in the Early Payout Tournament will see the message about the minimum payout, say, “Huh. Ok,” and keep playing. I wouldn’t be surprised, either, if some people are confused and start worrying that they are only getting a min-cash (though most people won’t be that in the dark).

It has been a gradual rollout of Early Payout Tournaments for PokerStars, as more than half of its multi-table tourneys including the feature right now. Assuming the feature works as planned and no bugs are found, it will rollout to all of PokerStars’ sites over the coming months.

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PokerStars Announces 2018 SCOOP Schedule

 PokerStars Announces 2018 SCOOP Schedule

Not content in topping its rivals, PokerStars keeps wanting to top itself. Case in point: the 2018 Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP). This year’s edition of the exceedingly popular online poker series will feature $ 65 million in guaranteed prize pools, $ 10 million more than the guarantees from last year. Running May 6th through May 21st, the schedule is comprised of 61 events, four more than last year. And since this is SCOOP, that means that each event has three buy-in levels, so that’s 183 tournaments in total.

As PokerStars rightly boasts, every day of the 2018 SCOOP will have at least one tournament with a $ 1 million guaranteed prize pool. Four of the days will have multiple $ 1 million guarantees.

The highlight, of course, is the No-Limit Hold’em Main Event, which will be at 2:00pm server time on Sunday, May 20th. The $ 109 buy-in “Low” Main Event will have a $ 1.5 million guarantee, the $ 1,050 buy-in “Medium” Main Event will have a $ 4 million guarantee, and the $ 10,300 buy-in “High” Main Event will have a $ 5 million guarantee.

As always, there will be a SCOOP leaderboard to track which players perform the best over all events. The overall leaderboard winner will win a Platinum Pass valued at $ 30,000. The Platinum Pass includes a $ 25,000 seat in the PokerStars Players NL Hold’em Championship (PSPC) live tournament, six nights’ accommodation at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, and $ 2,000 in food and beverage allowances.

The top three finishers on the high leaderboard will win $ 10,000, $ 7,500, and $ 5,000, respectively (and one would think the high leaderboard’s top player will also be the overall winner). The top ten on the medium leaderboard will win money with $ 7,500 going to the winner, and the top 25 on the low leaderboard will score extra cash, with the winner taking $ 5,000.

The winner of each Main Event will also receive a Platinum Pass, as will the winner of a special All-In Shootout.

In addition, everyone who has played in any SCOOP event in the past will have access to a special 10th anniversary freeroll in which $ 50,000 in SCOOP tickets will be given away. The freeroll will be held May 5th.

And, as this is PokerStars, no poker series can be run without the requisite special Spin & Go tourneys. These Spin & Go’s with buy-ins of $ 7.50 and $ 35 will give players the chance to win SCOOP buy-ins worth up to $ 25,000. There will also be a couple weekly Spin & Go challenges that will provide players who complete them entry into a SCOOP ticket freeroll.

And that’s that. Lots of events, gazillions of dollars in guarantees, a quintet of Platinum Passes, Spin & Go promotional jazz, a leaderboard triptych, the 2018 SCOOP has all the trappings one would expect. If you want to start planning your May, the complete schedule is available on the PokerStars website.

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PokerStars Introduces Split Hold’em

 PokerStars Introduces Split Hold’em

PokerStars, not known for being shy about introducing new games, has given players yet another novel offering. So if you sit down at a Split Hold’em cash game table, don’t freak out thinking there is a glitch. What you are seeing is completely normal.

Split Hold’em plays just like regular Texas Hold’em except for one very key difference: two sets of community cards are dealt simultaneously. That means there are two flops, two turns, and two rivers. Each player is dealt just one pair of hole cards, though. Betting is just like it is in any Hold’em game, but players must keep track of what’s going on with two sets of board cards.

If a hand goes all the way to a showdown in Split Hold’em, players must make the best hand with both sets of community cards to scoop the entire pot. Think of it like needing to win the high and low hands in an Omaha Hi/Lo game, except here, you need both high hands. If one player has the best hand using the top set of community cards and another has the best hand using the bottom set of community cards, those two players split the pot.

As is the case in standard Hold’em (or really any other poker game), a player can win the entire pot by forcing his or her opponents out of the hand.

It will be interesting to see how the strategies work in Split Hold’em. Do players loosen up their starting hand standards because they have an extra chance to win the hand? Do players stay in hands longer because they have more opportunities to win a piece of the pot (I would guess the answer to this is yes)? Is it a fool’s errand to play for a split pot or is trying to grab a little bit of dead money wise decision?

I would think it will definitely be much hard to read one’s opponents, you won’t easily know which board they are playing or if they have something legit for both. Turn and river percentages will also change, as more information will be known. I might have a hear flush draw with the top board, but if there is a hear on the bottom board, I now know my draw chances have taken a hit.

Split Hold’em will also utilize the Seat Me system, which PokerStars says is the first time this will be implemented for its “global liquidity player pool,” meaning the .COM site. Seat Me is an automated seating system, getting rid of the ability for players to choose their table and seat. Instead, players will just choose to play Split Hold’em and the stakes for which they want to play and the software will find them a seat. The main goal of this is to reduce bumhunting and stymie seating scripts that allow players to hunt down weaker players and sit with them. If someone wants to play Split Hold’em, they will have to actually play, not keep jumping tables to find their preferred target.

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Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier Latest Team PokerStars Pro to End Sponsorship

 Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier Latest Team PokerStars Pro to End Sponsorship

Continuing the exodus from the world’s number one online poker room, poker professional Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier announced yesterday that he was ending his association with PokerStars and its Team PokerStars Pro stable.

In a Twitter announcement yesterday, Grospellier issued his decision to his fans and the poker community. “After 11.5 years of a great partnership, it is time to move on for PokerStars and I,” Grospellier began. “We had a wonderful journey together and I am glad for all the great people it gave me the chance to work with and befriend…2017 showed it was time to stop and open a new chapter.”

“Team Pro used to be a core part of their (PokerStars’) strategy,” Grospellier continued. “It has become evident this was not the case anymore, during the last few years. I respect that. On my side, I am happy to have been involved – except those last few years unfortunately – on how PokerStars could offer the best Poker (sic) experience…it was an amazing privilege, especially during the Scheinberg era…when their vision brought poker, PokerStars and the players to constant new heights.”

Grospellier didn’t explain any further what the difference was since 2014, when the Scheinberg Family sold PokerStars to the then-Amaya Gaming (now the Stars Group), and he only cryptically offered a view to his future. “I am too young to only be sponsored,” he finished. “I want to bring added value and be consulted for strategic decision as I used to be. I am now content and eager to start a new and very exciting challenge – more info soon 😉.”

Originally one of the top video gamers in the world, Grospellier easily moved his mind and his skills into the world of poker back in 2004. He was the first player to reach the vaunted “SuperNova” and “SuperNova Elite” levels over the years, but his skills weren’t limited to only online (two World Championship of Online Poker titles and a Spring Championship of Online Poker win). He won a World Series of Poker bracelet in 2011 in a $ 10,000 Seven Card Stud tournament and was a terror in High Roller events around the world. His more than $ 13.5 million in career earnings seat him firmly in the Top 50 in the 29th place slot.

The continued exodus of Team PokerStars Pros is something that must be concerning to The Stars Group, however. Earlier this month both Vanessa Selbst and Jason Mercier, for their own reasons, chose to leave what is considered THE top sponsorship that a player can earn. Especially when you look at the length of time that Selbst, Mercier and Grospellier had been with the organization (all were around a decade in their sponsorships), there gives one pause to think about what might be causing these departures.

There is no doubt that the “culture” has changed at PokerStars. During the days of the Scheinbergs, the players were the focal point of the business and the management and Team PokerStars Pros went out of their way to make the experience special for those who played on the site. The players, for their part, were also integral to marketing and (some) management decisions that they could offer their expertise for.

That all changed – and changed rapidly – once Amaya Gaming purchased PokerStars and its related entities in 2014. Now faced with having to please a Board of Directors and stockholders, the decisions were made more on the financial side and input from the PokerStars Pro members wasn’t as valued as it once was. It is something that is significant and cannot be ignored in considering the moves by the pros.

You can believe that Mercier, with a new wife and a child, is now wanting to change his life. You MIGHT even believe that Selbst’s statement about poker “not being fun” anymore is the truth. But when Grospellier steps up and says that he is leaving because his input wasn’t being requested anymore, then you know there’s some issues coming out.

We more than likely haven’t seen the last of Grospellier. At no point did he say he was “retiring” from poker and the cryptic statement at the end of his announcement leads one to believe that he will be getting into another online poker endeavor in some manner. What we can do is just as we did with Selbst and Mercier – wish him the best and look forward to when he does make any type of return to the game.

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Jason Mercier Leaves Team PokerStars Pro

 Jason Mercier Leaves Team PokerStars Pro

Another American poker pro has left Team PokerStars, as Jason Mercier has announced his departure from his role as a site ambassador. As with fellow pro Vanessa Selbst, Mercier’s stint with PokerStars was effective at the end of 2017.

In a blog post on PokerStars’ website, Mercier explained that the reason for his decision – his contract with PokerStars was up at the end of 2017 and he had to think about what to do about renewal – revolved completely around his family and his newborn child.

His son, Marco Henry, was born three months ago. As any parent knows, having a child changes one’s life and priorities immediately. Said Mercier:

After my son was born, I knew things were going to be different. One of the major things to address was my relationship with PokerStars. My contract was set to expire at the end of 2017, and I wasn’t sure what exactly was going to happen there. I had a lot of questions rolling around my head. Do I even want to travel now? How much can I travel? Should I continue playing poker so much? How’s it going to be on the road with a baby? Does PokerStars want me to do more? Is my wife going to continue to play poker? DO WE NEED A FULL TIME NANNY!!??

Mercier said he “delayed my inevitable contract discussion” with PokerStars, but as the end of the year drew near, he realized it was time to call it quits. He needed to stop traveling full time and be home with his family.

While I have never been and never will be in the sort of position Mercier is in as an extremely successful poker pro, I did make a somewhat similar decision with my career in the poker world, though on a much smaller scale. When I started out in poker, I covered the WSOP live in Las Vegas in both 2005 and 2006. In 2006, my wife was pregnant with our first child, who was born that October. The following year, this site’s ownership (different ownership than today) asked if I could cover the WSOP again. I said no, as I did not want to leave my wife and infant, especially since my wife worked full-time. While I missed being at the Rio, it really wasn’t a difficult decision, and fortunately, my boss was onboard with it.

“The conversation about my contract was short and sweet,” Mercier wrote. “There were no hard feelings and there never would or could be. I was a PokerStars Pro for eight and a half wonderful years. I’m forever grateful that they took a chance on me when I was just a 22-year-old kid who had just captured his first gold bracelet in the summer of 2009. There were times when I thought I might be a PokerStars Pro for the rest of my life… hey, a kid can dream can’t he? Thank you to all of the wonderful people I worked with at PokerStars, your support and friendship has been invaluable.”

At the end of the blog post, Stephen Bartley of the PokerStars Blog staff, added a footnote from the site. He briefly described how they had met Mercier and how one thing that stuck out about him was that “he came across as a man who valued nothing more than the trappings of his family, and his friends.”

“So it was not really surprising to hear that it was his wife Natasha, and young son Marco took priority over a poker career at this stage of his life,” Bartley wrote. “The pride he takes in being a father and husband is clear for anyone to see. So while he’ll be missed as a PokerStars regular, we pass on our thanks and best wishes to Jason and his family, and look forward to seeing him at a PokerStars event soon.”

Cover photo credit: WSOP.com / Jamie Thomson

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