PartyPoker is taking a major stand on the age-old debate about whether players should be using tracking software when they play online poker or not. These changes don’t just stop with tracking software as other “health of the game” changes were also announced that will see one of the poker giants in the industry redefine how it does business. Did they cross the line though when going after one group of players, and accidently disadvantage another group?
When Full Tilt Poker announced that they were making changes to how they did wait listed seating arrangements and adjusted the stakes that they offered a few months ago the outcry from the mass grinders on the site was fairly loud. They felt that they were being unfairly targeted and not allowed to profit as much as before. If they had hoped that their leaving Full Tilt Poker would cause other sites to not make similar changes they failed quite badly in that endeavor. Party Poker is not only taking some of the same steps as Full Tilt Poker, but they are going even further to level the playing field among players. The best question though is, did they go too far?
PartyPoker has seen what getting rid of HUDs, for the most part, has done for sites such as Ignition, BetOnline, and TigerGaming and thus has decided to take it one step further. Not only will you not get your hands in real time, but you are also not going to be able to download your hands from the site at all. They are hoping that this will hurt people trying to study specific opponents after the game for exploits. This will also make any long term tracking impossible. The mea culpa they are giving players is the ability to see hands through the client after they are already finished, but without the ability to download them, minimal study is realistic, and it is not completely obvious what kind of interface is going to be used, so it could be pretty difficult to navigate around to see all of your hands.
While this may sound like a great thing for recreational players, it is potentially going to hurt some mid-level players who aren’t super serious, but also want to really work on improving their games. Without the ability to download your hands, it is going to be impossible to really do session reviews post hoc. Even anonymous poker sites generally let you get your hand histories after the games are over, which allows you to review your play and attempt to get better. Most sites are fine with players attempting to get better through natural study, but want to discourage mass-tablers who have an unfair advantage, they feel. This is a very drastic change and might be a situation of cutting off the nose to spite the face. Time will tell how players in the middle levels feel about this kind of change.
These next two changes go hand and hand and are kind of interesting when taken together. While the first change of global waiting lists are nothing new, the ability to not see the name of your opponents until after the hand starts provides another layer of anonymity to the game. The reason this is an interesting choice, especially when considering what they are trying to mirror is that at a live casino you can look at the other table and if you notice something you are given the choice of whether you want the seat or will be removed from the game. This new style of not being able to see the screen names of those you are going against until you are dealt into your first hand forces players to playing game when they might not otherwise want to.
The argument that the site uses to justify this is that players will be encouraged to play more hands as they ae already sitting at the table with a seat and have a hand in front of them. They believe it will make it harder to table select. This argument seems flawed though as players can just get up after 1 hand or one orbit if they don’t like the lineup at the table. This might actually make it less enjoyable for players as there are going to be more breaks between hands to allow new players to post blinds. It doesn’t protect weaker players more, because the global waitlists already make it luck if you get sent to their table in the first place. The only thing that can really happen here is that players will get annoyed with players leaving so often. Time will tell how this will work out though.
While the changes such as HUD and rakeback removal at Party Poker have a definite strategy, which is to curb mass table grinders, it appears they may not have struck a good balance of recreational and serious player. Even sites that are seen as very recreational friendly make it easier for middle of the road players to improve themselves and know what they are getting themselves into. It is possible though that this model will do exactly what they want it too and games will flourish on the site. If these aggressive moves work, don’t be surprised to see even more sites follow this trend. What do you think of the changes? Is PartyPoker shooting themselves in the foot? Tell us on Twitter and Facebook!