Bugs Force Winamax Poker to Shut Down New Fast Fold Poker Games
Believe it or not, there was once a time in my life when I knew nothing about poker (some may still say I know nothing about poker and to them I say…yeah, you might be right). But well before my career in the poker industry started, I lived the “So You Don’t Really Do Anything” life of an IT consultant. Part of the process of constructing a company’s IT systems, whatever they may be, was developing a detailed system testing procedure, actually running through said tests, adding to the testing procedure, and re-running all the old plus the new tests. We had to make sure that when our client flipped the theoretical switch, everything would hum beautifully and that we could exit stage left knowing the client could handle things.
Well, it looks like Winamax.fr, the leading French online poker room, should have hired my team.
On Monday, Winamax launched “Go Fast,” its entry into the ever-widening Fast Fold poker field. It did not go well. Players reported numerous bugs, including the poker software’s failure to properly return players’ funds after leaving the table and freezing when players tried to play on multiple tables at once.
Fortunately, Winamax was quickly clued in, hearing complaints from its players. Instead of trying to tinker with things while players continued to have problems, Winamax decided to just take the game down completely while it fixed the issues. “In order to fix some user-related issues,” its website says, “we have temporarily stopped GO FAST. We hope it will be back very shortly. We apologize for the inconvenience.”
Winamax is not the first online poker room to experience technical problems after rolling out something new, though it is curious that these companies fail to test their updated software thoroughly before pushing it out to the masses. Multi-tabling and getting up from a table are amongst the most basic things a player would do; one would think that these problems would have been caught and patched ahead of time.
Winamax was (and I suppose still is) one of the only poker rooms of any consequence without a Fast Fold game option. The Fast Fold game type was introduced at the beginning of 2010 when Full Tilt Poker revolutionized the online poker industry with the advent of “Rush Poker.” Rush Poker was meant to attract recreational players to poker, as it eliminated the long wait for a player after folding while opponents battled it out in a hand. Instead of having to wait, once a player folds, he is immediately moved to another table and another hand begins. As it turned out, Rush Poker also appealed to more serious players, as they could still use their skills but also play a ton more hands per hour.
As a Rush Poker patent was pending, other poker rooms held off on introducing their own Fast Fold games. But expansion was inevitable and in a couple years, competitors hopped on the bandwagon, all willing to sacrifice traffic at “standard” tables for the higher volume of hands (and thus rake) Fast Fold games could bring. Fast Fold games are no standard offerings in the industry.
Though late to the Fast Fold game, Winamax, was a trend setter in the newest poker craze, Lottery Sit-and-Go’s. On July 13th, 2013, Winamax launched Expresso Poker, a new Sit-and-Go game type with three-handed tables, hyper-turbo blinds, and low buy-ins (€1, €2 , €5, and €10). That format is fairly unique in itself, but the thing that really made Expresso games stand-out was the mystery prize pool. It was only when a match started that the players knew what the prize pool would be. Most of the time (nearly 76 percent), it would be just two times the buy-in, rather than the standard sum of all buy-ins less fee. Though that is a small prize pool, the short tourneys are also winner-take-all. The other 24 percent (or so) of the time, the prize pools will be higher. For instance, it will be four times the buy-in about 15 percent of the time. It can get as high as 1,000 times the buy-in, but that it extraordinarily rare, occurring only give times out of every 100,000 games. The rake on Expresso poker games is seven percent of the prize pool.
It took until January for the next Lottery Sit-and-go product to appear, this time on the iPoker Network as Twister Poker. Recently, both Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars have launched their offerings, though PokerStars’ is currently available only in Spain. They all work basically the same, with some differences in the payout tables and probabilities. Full Tilt Poker also divides the prize pool amongst all three players at the high end of the prize pool chart.