Showtime Hold’em

Novelty Games are Available in Tournament Format at PokerStars

Nearly two months ago, we reported that PokerStars was preparing to resurrect some of its past novelty games in multi-table tournament format. These tournaments (also referred to as “scheduled” tournaments) could be filtered by novelty game type in the PokerStars tourney lobby, but at that time, none had been loaded. That has all changed, as now the lobby has been populated with tournaments of three types of novelty games: No-Limit Showtime Hold’em, Pot-Limit Fusion, and No-Limit 6+ Hold’em.

Online poker rooms are always looking for ways to get players excited, and new game varieties are a way to do that. New poker games are tough to develop, though, as for as many wild ideas as one can come up with, very few would actually have any kind of staying power in the online poker world. Thus, new poker games that actually appeal to lots of people and are viable long-term are fairly rare.

PokerStars Has a History With Offbeat Games

Last March, though, PokerStars began a year-long stretch of new cash-game introductions. These “novelty” games were intentionally temporary, geared toward giving players something fresh and interesting but not having the games overstay their welcome. Many players wanted the games to remain in the lobby for good (I know I would have – I was always a sucker for off-the-beaten-path games), but it is understandable that PokerStars would not let them all exist simultaneously. You want variety in the lobby so players don’t get bored, but the more options that exist, the more the player base gets split up, and the less action there is at any given game and stakes.

Split Hold’em was the first novelty game, introduced in March 2018. In May, it was Showtime Hold’em, and then Unfold arrived in August. Fusion came around in November and then 6+ Hold’em appeared in January of this year. 6+ Hold’em is the only one that has remained as what looks like a permanent fixture, as it has its own tab in the lobby.

In the fall of 2018, PokerStars’ Director of Poker Innovation and Operations Severin Rasset told Poker Industry PRO, “We are considering putting variants in, such as MTTs, because player feedback showed that they [would appreciate] this. 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, as mentioned, a couple months ago, a few novelty game variants showed up in the tourney filters – the three listed at the outset of this article plus Showtime Omaha, which as far as I can remember, was never actually a cash game. Now there are actually tournaments of these types of games, save Showtime Omaha, listed in the multi-table tournament lobby.

Most of the buy-ins are $1.10, with some at $5.50 and $11. All of the $1.10 tournaments have $100 guaranteed prize pools, the $5.50 buy-in tournaments have $500 guaranteed prize pools, and the $11 options have $800 guarantees. Most have Turbo or Hyper-Turbo blind levels.

All of the tournaments are labeled as “Test” or “Trial” tournaments. I have no idea what the difference is between the two and I assume they are labeled as such because they are new and PokerStars is making sure everything goes fine before making them “official.” Or something. Don’t know why they need those designations, but it doesn’t matter.

A few have either already been completed or are currently running as of the night of June 28th (ET). Over the weekend, there are 17 novelty-game tournaments scheduled for each day.

A quick review of what these games are all about:

Showtime Hold’em

It is an exceedingly simple concept, but one that changes the game dramatically. Whenever a player folds, be it pre-flop or post-flop, their cards are turned face-up for everyone to see for the rest of the hand. It is not hard to see how this affects the game. Players will need to vary their style, as everyone will see everyone else’s hole cards nearly every hand. Think about that: every time you fold, your opponents will see your cards. Every time you go to showdown and show your cards, everyone will see them. Every time you go to showdown and muck, those who contributed money to the pot will be able to see your cards in the hand history.

Thus, the only time your opponents will be unable to see your hole cards at some point during or after a Showtime Hold’em hand is if you win the hand by forcing everybody to fold.


Fusion, as you might guess from the name, combines two different games. In this case, it’s hold’em and Omaha. In a Fusion game, everyone is dealt two hole cards like in hold’em, but after the flop, everyone still in the hand gets another hole card. Then, after the turn, everyone gets yet another hole card. Now with four hole cards, the game has transformed into Omaha. Betting rounds are the same as always and the winner of the hand is the one with the best Omaha hand.

6+ Hold’em

Perhaps the oddest of the three, in 6+ Hold’em, all cards with values five and below are removed from the deck. Because the deck is smaller, the probabilities of certain hands change, making a flush ranked higher than a full house and a three-of-a-kind ranked higher than a straight. It is an action game, that is for certain.


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