It’s easy to look at the monopoly PokerStars seemingly has on the online poker world, but to their credit they tick all of the right boxes. They are one of the few online poker companies that recognize the importance of listening to their customers, a point that was stamped down hard when they created the European Players Council back in August 2012.
Six members of that council traveled to the Isle of Man in late October to sit down with Stars representatives in their semi annual player meeting, and the output of that meeting has been posted in the 2+2 Forum.
Of particular interest is the introduction of Zoom Heads-Up Cash Game tables that are going to be introduced in December as a method of combating the bum-hunting problem that has plagued online poker over the past few years.
The release of this Speedy Gonzalez form of poker coincides with the release of a native Full Tilt Poker (FTP) Rush Poker App to replace the HTML5 version that received so many critics when it was released in May 2013.
The roll out of a Native FTP Rush Poker App is a great example of little sister following the lead of her bigger brother, so what remains to be seen is when they are going to do the same thing when it comes to the formation of the Player Council.
Feedback on the 2+2 forum regarding the meeting was positive to the extent that it makes you wonder if it’s a case of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ they will roll out a similar players council for the site that needs one the most – Full Tilt Poker.
Here are the main bullet points taken from PokerStars rep Steve Day’s account of the meeting.
- No changes will be made to the VIP program in Jan 2014, but they are not ruling out the potential to make changes later in the year.
- They do not expect to see any additional value offered to Supernova+ players in the foreseeable future.
- They are looking to improve variety in the electronics and books department of the store.
- Also considering changing t-shirt design more frequently.
Ring Game Rake
- PLO rake is too high/ PLO rake is unbeatable.
- Stars have been discussing this issue with their players for over a year.
- They have compared PLO rake with other games in at least three different ways. Each analysis leads to the same conclusion: PLO rake is not too high and the games are beatable for a healthy profit.
- A promise to continue to listen to the player’s council, and share their analysis with them, but no change is intended. The review did identify rake discrepancies in other games where they will now be lowered or increased where applicable. No mention of which types of games this refers to.
- These are tailored more to the recreational players, but there have been some exceptions for regulars such as Happy Hours and Battle of the Planets. They plan to add more promotions in 2014.
- Acknowledging the ascent of mobile and the need to tailor software to that area.
- Players were able to play on the PokerStars 7 software. Although no feedback given.
- Anti rat holing functionality has been developed and tested. Planned to roll out later this month for at least one stakes.
- They are to continue to improve their ability to prevent data mining of the site. They acknowledged this was the most effective method of preventing the sharing of hand histories in violation of their terms of service and the inappropriate public display of results based on data mined hands.
- Automated deal making in tournaments. This will get a priority.
- Open Face Chinese will not be coming to Stars. Programmers have already developed very sophisticated bots that perform at a very high level in this game of perfect information, making it a poor choice to add to our selection of games.
Ring Game Seating
- Ring game seating is easily the largest player behavior problem we are currently facing. Unfortunately there is no easy solution.
- Players want seating scripts banned. Although Stars agree that this is a problem they don’t feel banning it is the solution. Enforcement will be ineffective and may even negative side effects.
- Getting rid of seat scripts will not stop bum hunting.
- It’s better for poker, and for PokerStars, if the primary focus of successful players is on play at the tables, not lobby gamesmanship.
- They recognized that the important skill of table selection is now damaging the game. But they don’t have a desirable solution yet.
Ring and SNG Offering
- They plan to launch HU Zoom as an alternative to traditional HU cash tables.
- They don’t want to offer too wide a variety of SNG games because of liquidity issues.
The next player meeting is scheduled to take place in April 2014 and PokerStars players should check the thread periodically as more and more council members attach their own meeting notes.
Link to the thread here.