PokerStars Launches Showtime Hold’em

Were you getting tired of Split Hold’em, the Texas Hold’em game with two sets of community cards, at PokerStars? Good, because it’s gone – it was on a temporary run. Are you ready for another silly-ass (I say this endearingly) poker offering from Stars that will break your heart if you love it or go away just in time if you tired of it? Good, because PokerStars has launched another limited-time game called Showtime Hold’em.

The poker world knew Showtime Hold’em was on the way at some point, as the news site Poker Industry PRO had discovered new table graphics in the PokerStars.net client. One was for something called Spin & Goal, most likely a limited-run Spin & Go promo in conjunction with the World Cup. The other two were more likely to be cash games: PokerStars Fusion and Showtime Hold’em. Nobody knew what either was all about last week, but yesterday, PokerStars introduced Showtime Hold’em, so the wait wasn’t long.

Showtime Hold’em takes the concept of poker being a game of limited information and turns it on its head. Certainly, the game is still one where players don’t have tons of information, but they will most definitely have more than normal. That is because when a player folds in Showtime Hold’em, his hole cards are then turned face up for the rest of the hand.

Think about that for a second. If you fold Queens to a re-raise pre-flop, everybody at the table will know. If you are a stupidly tight player like me, everyone will soon find out. On the other hand, how long do you think you will be able to play loose-aggressive when you have to show your cards every time you fold?

Thinking about it for another few seconds, you will come to realization that you will flip over your cards every hand in Showtime Hold’em except for those in which you yourself force everyone to fold. I am unsure about what happens when a hand gets to showdown and the player that does not have to show first decides to muck, as that’s not actually a fold, but the hand history would reveal the cards to everyone, anyway.

And that’s just how Showtime Hold’em will affect players as the result of everyone knowing what sorts of cards they play. There’s another level to this, though. The players who continue on in the hand will have more information – they will know what cards have been folded and therefore what cards will not be dealt. Now that person who is working on a heart flush draw will know their odds are lower if five people folded hearts. Conversely, that player’s opponent who flopped a set will not be as afraid of a flush if a draw is out there.

Imagine how much harder it might be to bluff. Maybe you’re representing an Ace on the turn, only to have someone fold an Ace. Your opponent knows you might still have it, but the probability that you do just decreased significantly. Of course, if you do have it, you can use the reveal to your advantage, as now your opponent might be overconfident.

See how this is going to get everyone’s gears turning? The lack of information in a poker game naturally makes things quite interesting, with a lot of “he knows that I know that he knows” or “he thinks that I think that he thinks” types of thought processes going on. Those thought processes snake around as board cards are dealt, but with folded hole cards revealed, those thought processes are going to snake all over the place. Strategies may change sharply during a hand. The line someone takes one moment may have to be abandoned much more suddenly than it would be in a regular hold’em game.

Showtime Hold’em will use PokerStars’ “Seat Me” system for placing players at tables. With Seat Me, players will just select the stakes for which they wish to play and the software will seat them automatically at an available table. Seat Me was implemented a while back – including on the Spain/France shared liquidity site – in an effort to prevent pros and other seasoned players from preying on specific, weaker opponents. Removing the ability to select seats should eliminate things like bumhunting and the use of seating scripts.

As mentioned, Showtime Hold’em will not be a permanent offering at PokerStars. People who enjoy it and enjoyed Split Hold’em probably won’t like that, but having too many game types can spread the player pool too thin, reducing activity across the board.

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