PokerStars Cash Games

PokerStars to Launch All Stars Cash Game Contest

Near the beginning of a post on the PokerStars blog, the online poker room’s Director of Poker Innovation and Operations Severin Rasset wrote the following about cash games on Thursday:

I have always liked cash games. They are usually played with deep stacks, players have the ability to play for the exact duration that they are willing to commit to, and mistakes or bad beats can be fixed over time. They require discipline and focus, with only a handful of people required to start a game.

Confession: I feel the opposite. I have always liked tournaments better than cash games. Not that I have ever been amazing at tournaments, but I tend to feel more comfortable in them. I know that’s slightly illogical, since a single hand could send me to my demise and if it’s not a bullshit re-entry tournament, that’s it, my money is gone. But for me, tournaments have more of a sports competition feel, like I am trying to pace myself and jockey for position in a long race. They are more fun than cash games to me. Plus, on a psychological level, I don’t get as nervous throwing around tournament chips because they don’t specifically represent cash. Again, I know that’s illogical, but my brain works like that.

Rassett went on to recall how he loved following the online cash game competitions between players such as Phil Ivey and Patrik Antonius (I couldn’t care less about that stuff) and watching guys like Daniel Negreanu yuck it up over six-figure pots on High Stakes Poker (I did like that!). Nowadays, though, Rassett says players have told him that cash games are getting much tougher to beat, likely for the simple reason that players are getting better.

One thing that makes eeking out a profit at the cash game tables even more difficult is the rake. Back during the poker boom when the online poker rooms were filled with fish, forking over rake and losing a little bit of one’s ROI wasn’t such a big deal. But now, those who play for a living often find, as Rassett puts it, “edges are getting thinner.” Rake eats up those profits much more quickly now.

Thus, PokerStars is launching something that even I think is cool, even if there is no way I would ever come remotely close to qualifying for it. Next month, the poker room will rev up “All Stars” a rake-free cash game competition for only the most successful cash game players on PokerStars.

PokerStars has not explained exactly how All Stars will work, but Rassett revealed the basics:

• One month of competition
• Two stakes: NL200 (Masters) and NL2000 (All Stars) in NL Hold’em
• No rake
• $100,000 of leaderboard prizes

This competition is not just for all-comers, though. It is invitation only. In order to qualify, players must have proven their mettle at the cash game tables on PokerStars during the past year.

To qualify for the Masters level, players must have competed at the NL100 to NL400 tables and have won at least $10,000 in the previous twelve months. For All Stars, the requirements increase to $25,000 in winnings at the NL500 level and above. One would assume that PokerStars will just query its player databases to gather all that information, though that wasn’t specified in Rassett’s post.

To make the competition more of a show for fans rather than just a closed party for the players, PokerStars will ask players to make their hand histories available so that PokerStars’ marketing team can then publicize some of the most intriguing moments. Expect lots of blog posts.

PokerStars will be e-mailing qualified players within the next few weeks with full details about the All Stars competition. There are already plans for Season 2, provided Season 1 is deemed a success.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out. Players who have been successful enough in cash games to qualify for All Stars will certainly love the idea of being able to play with zero rake. At the same time, though, they might not be enamored with knowingly sitting down to play against a bunch of players that they know are good. No, not every player who is eligible to participate will have his or her opponents trembling in their boots, but if you are someone who has profited five-figures in the past year in No-Limit cash games, that’s not nothing. One would think the $100,000 in prizes is meant to mitigate are hesitancy players might have.

As mentioned, the plan right now is to have All Stars run this spring, specifically in April and May. Beyond that, no other details have been set forth.

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