Novelty Game Tournaments Coming to PokerStars
I live in a state in the United States where there is no legal, regulated online poker. Sure, there are some sites I could play on, but honestly, I haven’t cared enough to do so. When I did play daily, I would often get tired of the usual Hold’em and Omaha games, which is why I would frequent sites that had the occasional oddball game like Crazy Pineapple. 2018 PokerStars, therefore, would have been the place for me, as every few months, the online poker room would introduce a novelty cash game, a departure from the norm, a way for players to have a fun change of pace while their poker brains get warped. These novelty games were only temporary, though, to the dismay of many players. But hang your heads no more, as it appears that PokerStars is bringing back a number of them in the form of multi-table tournaments.
Poker Industry PRO interviewed Severin Rasset, PokerStars’ Director of Poker Innovation and Operations, last fall, who hinted that this may happen. Well, he didn’t exactly “hint” at it, but rather straight up said it was something they were thinking about.
“We are considering putting variants in, such as MTTs, because player feedback showed that they [would appreciate] this,” he said. “Some players were disappointed that they could not find games when we turned them off, so this is something that we want to potentially offer.”
And now, with the most recent PokerStars client software update, it looks like novelty game multi-table tournaments (or “scheduled” tournaments as they can be called) are on their way. Nothing is listed in the lobby yet, but you can see for yourself if you boot up the software. Just navigate to the “Tourney” tab to bring up the tournament lobby and then expand the “Game” drop-down filter. Scanning the different game types reveals three former novelty games and one current one.
Under “Hold’em,” we can see 6+ Hold’em and Showtime Hold’em, while under “Omaha,” we can see Showtime Omaha and Fusion. As I said, there are no tournaments scheduled yet for any of those, as is evidence by an empty lobby when clicking the checkboxes on those filters. But the filters are there, so one would rightfully expect these novelty games to be available as tournaments at some point in the near future.
There have always been new game types introduced by online poker rooms, but PokerStars began its pattern of limited-time games just over a year ago with the launch of Split Hold’em, a game with two sets of community cards, in late March 2018. Showtime Hold’em came around in May 2018, followed by Unfold in August 2018, Fusion in November 2018, and 6+ Hold’em in January 2019. Each game stayed in the lobby for about two months.
6+ Hold’em is the exception, now approaching four months of active availability. When it was launched, it sounded like it was supposed to be a permanent game, but then word came down that it would be temporary like its predecessors. As it has now outlasted the others by a solid month, who knows? 6+ Hold’em has also been increasing in popularity in live poker games in the last couple years, taking off in the high stakes games of Macau, so it is entirely possible that it will stick around on PokerStars.
6+ Hold’em is a regular Texas Hold’em game, save for one very important detail: the deck is comprised only of cards with values Six and higher. Everything Five and below has been removed from the deck. As such, the probabilities of hitting certain hands changes. A Flush beats a Full House and a Three-of-a-Kind beats a Straight.
The Showtime games play exactly like their standard counterparts. There is nothing during the actual gameplay that differs. What does differ, however, is what happens when a player folds. The consequence of folding is not limited to forfeiting the opportunity to win the pot. In Showtime, a folder is also forced to turn over his hole cards and leave them visible for the rest of the hand. As you might expect, this can greatly alter play styles and strategies. Players might not be able to stick to the same patterns, as unless they rarely fold, those patterns will be figured out quickly. Those who stay in the hand will now have more information and a line they were planning on taking might have to change once they see their opponents’ folded cards.
Fusion is kind of a like a hybrid of Hold’em and Omaha, as the name somewhat implies. It starts the same as Hold’em, with each player dealt two hole cards. After the flop, though, everybody still in the hand gets another hole card, and after the turn, yet another one for a total of four. With that fourth hole card, Fusion becomes Omaha, with the winning hand being the best five-card hand made up of two hole cards and three board cards. The betting rounds work exactly the same as any Hold’em or Omaha game.