PokerStars to Introduce Anonymous Tables, Flash Spin & Gos
PokerStars has announced some of the latest bells and whistles to be given a try as the online poker giant continues its search for the next traffic-generating rage. The two latest developments coming players’ way are an option to play on anonymous-player tables, along with the rollout of “Flash”-styled Spin n’ Go tables.
The planned tryout for the anonymous Stars tables does not yet have a live date, but news of the upcoming development was given to PokerFuse by Severin Rasset, PokerStars’ Director of Poker Innovation and Operations. “We are always working on new features and products and we have a lot coming up that we plan to test and gain player feedback on,” said Rasset. “This includes testing adding some anonymous tables in upcoming months, which we will monitor very closely as the overall player experience and health of our poker ecosystem is top priority for us.” The option to play anonymously will likely be one of several filters available on the main page of the PokerStars client once started up, with anonymous tables available only by selecting that option or toggling that flag.
PokerStars has sampled several variations related to players’ identities in the wake of maturing online poker revenues. This latest development, whether it remains available or not, will at the very least give Stars a wealth of first-hand knowledge as to the extent that casual and “recreational” players would rather avoid tables where HUDs (heads-up displays) and other automated player aids are in common use.
While one writer working for the Bodog/Bovada brand family has hailed Stars’ experimentation as a monumental victory for the anonymous-player model, a more cynical take is that Stars, still the giant of the industry, still has the market strength to diversify as needed. If adding anonymous tables stabilizes or increases revenue, then it’s a good adaption. However, by itself it may be really just allowing online players to choose whichever they believe to be the lesser of two evils. HUDs themselves are just the foundation upon which other, more noxious practices are built, ranging from datamining to scripts and solvers. Anonymous tables curtail most of that, but they instead open the door to increased collusion and botting, which are harder for players to identify and track in such an environment.
Any of these problems can be counteracted with sufficient resources, but that resource need is expensive enough that most operators, amid a maturing and merging global market, have been loathe to undertake the needed investments. No operator to date has appeared to arrive at an optimal solution that fully protects online players from various forms of cheating or advantage play.
So we’ll see how it goes. PokerStars adding these tables is probably a good move, and many of their players will like it. That’s enough to give it a test.
The addition of the Flash-paced Spin & Gos is more immediate, having already gone into effect this week. These hyper-paced three-handed SNGs are an action junkie’s dream, even though they’re likely to be very high variance and not for the most serious grnders, given that players start with just 300 chips each.
As the Stars Blog announcement acknowledged, “Now, we should start by saying that Spin and Go Flash isn’t for everyone. If you like spending hours over a tournament while making the most of your time bank, then the super speedy structure – even quicker than regular Spin & Go’s – might not be for you. But if you like your poker in small packages, and super quick, and all done within those few spare minutes you find during the day, then Spin & Go Flash is for you.”