Last week, PartyPoker announced changes that will make it difficult if not impossible to use tools like Head Up Displays and seating scripts. On the poker forums some high volume players are saying that they plan to leave Party for other sites. If they do, they may be acting too soon.
The changes PartyPoker has put in place will roll out over the next few weeks. Hand histories will no longer be saved to the hard drive, which means that programs such as Hold’em Manager and Poker Tracker won’t be able to populate their databases.
Table wait lists will be replaced with a global wait list that will seat players on the next table that comes available—the cab rank principle. This will obstruct tools which help to select tables which may contain weaker players.
Although PartyPoker has not made its tables “anonymous,” when a player is seated, he won’t be able to see the screen names of the other seated players until he is dealt his first hand. This stops players choosing a seat which gives them position on a known weaker player.
“As part of our Poker for the People campaign, the PartyPoker team is committed to providing all poker players, regardless of experience or skill levels, with trusted poker products that are fair, ethical and fun,” said Golan Shaked, Director of Games at bwin.party.
The changes are all designed to protect weaker players from predatory regular players, which, if serious players can put immediate self-interest aside, is in the interest of every player.
However, as has happened before so often in online poker, the changes do mean that serious players again need to adapt. Running away to another room is not necessarily the best long-term strategy—although for players who do decide that they can’t play without their HUD, Rakeback.com can provide great offers and a wide choice of promotions at our selected poker rooms.
The decision about which room to play at partly revolves around how much it will cost to play there. The cost consists of several components, including the rake, the VIP program expressed in terms of a rakeback percentage, the win rate and the volume of play which is possible.
PartyPoker fully expects quite a few of its high volume players to leave once the changes are implemented, which means that the average skill level of the player pool will reduce. To put it bluntly, there will be more fish than regulars, which means higher win rates.
Playing without a HUD may mean that you reduce the number of tables that you play, at least until you get used to it, but even without HUD statistics, solid poker should produce much higher profits per 100 hands. This may be enough to compensate for playing fewer hands.
Even if it doesn’t quite replace dollar for dollar, the additional learning that playing without a HUD produces will be worth its weight in gold. With a little learning, and regs disappearing from some of the games, it may even be time to move up in stakes. If that works out, the benefits will more than wipe out any loss from a reduction in volume.
The recreational to regular player ratio can also be expected to apply to PartyPoker tournaments. Losing a few highly skilled players from tournaments in partypoker’s regular schedule is likely to make a major difference to the Return on Investment (ROI) of those players who stick around.
The changes should be in place in time for the next PokerFest which has been re-scheduled for October 25. If PartyPoker sees the same size of player exodus that Full Tilt experienced after it made similar changes, there is a good chance that the PokerFest guarantees will suddenly seem extremely ambitious. Overlays could well be coming your way.
High volume players produce what is known as player liquidity. Something like 90% of all hands are played by 10% of players—the multi-tabling 8 hour a day, 7 days a week regulars fill the tables.
This liquidity means that casual players can always find a seat open at a table running the game of their choice at the stakes they want to play. Taking out only a few high volume players can seriously reduce liquidity.
At Full Tilt this was obvious in the cash game traffic statistics, and only a month after introducing their recreational player model, they have already introduced promotions to incentive more play at the cash game tables. A best guess would say that PartyPoker will follow suit. High volume players who stick around should see more promotions aimed at them as their contribution to the poker room is recognised financially.
Online poker has changed before, and it will change again. The best online grinders know this and are ever ready to seize the opportunity to adapt. No doubt the first Sit & Go players to learn PokerStars Spin & Go strategy made the most money—those who followed on picked up the scraps.
There is an industry trend towards blocking third party software. Players who can’t play without it are at a disadvantage. When Rakeback interviewed November Niner Josh Beckley, we were surprised to learn that he had never played using a HUD, and he’s been playing online for nearly 10 years.
PokerStars has also changed its rules on third party software, and has plans to make them even tougher in the future. The world’s most popular poker room is a fantastic place to play at, but its games, especially at low stakes and above are probably the toughest in the world to beat.
Full Tilt has made changes that block seating scripts, and although HUDs still work, you still can’t choose a table or where to sit.
“Arguably, we are now at a point where the game of online poker needs to be rebalanced again,” said MPN Head of Poker Alex Scott. “The weapon that is the seating script has become too powerful, and there is a lot more at stake than just points – the entire future of the online poker industry hinges on whether the game remains fun or not.”
And that is the whole point. Operators are determined to keep attracting new players by ensuring that the game remains fun. They are happy for regular players to win, and even to win huge, so long as the grinders don’t strip new players of their bankroll too quickly.
Rakeback.com is giving away 2x£550 WPT500 tickets to PartyPoker players at the end of this month, see the ways to win here.
By Joss Wood Rakeback.com Content Manager
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