PokerStars Launches Bubble Rush Tourneys

PokerStars may be the largest online poker room in the world according to PokerScout’s cash game traffic data (and the largest by a MILE), but it is probably better known for its tournaments. The site initially became the place to go for multi-table tourneys more than a decade ago, when Chris Moneymaker won his seat into the World Series of Poker Main Event – a tournament he, as you well know, won – via a PokerStars satellite. In the years that followed, WSOP Main Event champs signed with PokerStars (many were already heavy Stars players), further cementing PokerStars’ reputation as the tournament hub of the online poker world. It doesn’t hurt, either, that the site has LITERALLY GAZILLIONS of players who generated GIGUNDO prize pools. So, might as well put more tournaments on the schedule, right? On Monday, PokerStars officially launched a new tournament type: Bubble Rush tournaments.

Bubble Rush tournaments are hybrid hyper-turbo/regular speed tourneys, designed to allow players to dispense with the preliminaries and get to the more exciting parts of the tournament faster than they normally would. The concept is simple: the tournament starts off in with hyper-turbo blind levels, but when the field is into the money, the blinds are slowed to normal duration. PokerStars estimates that these Bubble Rush tournaments will get into the money in about an hour.

pokerstars-spade-logo-2That PokerStars’ tournaments produce large fields around the clock is great; the prize pools are nice and unless you are a Sit-and-Go player, it is usually more fun to play in a tourney with a lot of people. The problem, though, is that large tournaments naturally take a long time to get through for those that make it deep. When I used to be able to play on PokerStars, I would generally try to find a tournament that started in the morning on the off chance that I actually made a run and had to commit hours to playing. Once I had kids, it was nearly impossible to play in any big tournaments.

Thus, the point of Bubble Rush tournaments. Yes, those who play well into the money will still be online for a while, but not nearly as long as they might have been. At the same time, strategy will have to change for most people, as there is a significant difference between playing a tournament with regular blind levels and hyper-turbo blind levels.

Bubble Rush tournaments have buy-ins ranging from $0.55 to $109.

To give an example of what the blind structure looks like, let’s take a look at the $22 buy-in, $10,000 guaranteed prize pool Bubble Rush tournaments that are currently listed in the PokerStars lobby. As already discussed, it is a hyper-turbo blind structure, with levels clocking in at a swift three minutes each. That’s Spin & Go territory. When the tournament hits the money, though, the software slams on the brakes and the blind levels slow to twelve minutes each. They get even slower as the field gets smaller. With 27 players remaining, blind levels move to fifteen minutes and when the nine-handed final table is reached, blind levels will increase to twenty minutes a piece.

Blind level structures vary depending on the buy-in and guaranteed prize pool. For instance, in a $2.20 buy-in Bubble Rush tourney with a $2,000 guarantee that contested earlier today, blind level duration increased to twelve minutes when the field reached the money and to fifteen minutes when the final table was reached. In an $11 tournament with a $10,000 guarantee, the blind levels switched to fifteen minutes with eighteen players remaining with no additional change when there were only nine players remaining.

With the launch of Bubble Rush tournaments, PokerStars is giving players a shot to try an extra one for free via Bubble Rush Challenges. As is the case with challenges, players must login to their PokerStars accounts and opt-in. Once the challenge is activated, players who make the money in a Bubble Rush tournament will receive a ticket into $7,500 Bubble Rush Freeroll (up to four re-entries allowed), which will be held at 2:05pm ET the following day. Players can actually win as many as five tickets per day to the next day’s freeroll (and thus use those extra tickets for their re-entries). Satellites do not count for the challenges.

Bubble Rush tournaments are not necessarily new to PokerStars in the fall of 2014, the site introduced Bubble Dash tournaments during the MicroMillions tournaments series, but never really promoted them outside of that, content to only run a couple a day at very low price points. Full Tilt, PokerStars’ former sister site, launched Escalator tournaments in early 2013, but they never really caught on.

Featured image credit: Robert House via Flickr

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