On Thursday, Amaya announced the beta launch of its new real-money and free-play Duel app for iOS and Android, which is currently only available to customers in Norway. Assuming the Norway test performs up to expectations, Amaya plans to roll out Duel in other markets in which Stars operates.
Based on No Limit Hold’em, Duel allows two individuals to set up a mano y mano match with fixed limits on the number of hands and number of big blinds per hand. (Play-money Duel matches last 10 hands; real-money last 20; players start each hand with 500 chips.) Hands are dealt all at once, first move of which is evenly split between opponents. Whichever player has the biggest stack of chips at the end wins the match.
Duel’s unique selling point is the ability for players to interrupt their play for long stretches without having their hand automatically folded. Duel’s time bank is measured in “hours and days rather than seconds,” making it more akin to a game of Words with Friends than a traditional heads-up poker contest.
Amaya claims Duel will appeal to poker players who “want to be able to challenge friends at their convenience,” rather than having to commit a dedicated block of time in which to scratch their poker itch.
Amaya is also pitching Duel to players who wish to engage in contests with its Team Online pros. Duel players can challenge anyone they like via social media or text message, although there’s still no guarantee that the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo will have any interest in engaging with your peasant self.
Amaya claims the product is part of its effort to reinvigorate the slumping online poker sector by introducing the game to new audiences. Amaya reportedly plans to cap buy-ins at $5 in order to limit Duel’s appeal to high-volume sharks.
Duel’s arrival comes just days after PokerStars announced plans to scrap its heads-up ring games as of Friday (12). Amaya claimed this change was aimed at improving the overall poker ecology by reducing “widespread predatory behavior” at heads-up games.