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Ignition's Quick Seat: Smart Innovation or Failed Dud?

PaiWangLuo NetworkOn April 19 of this year, Ignition Poker players who logged in to play a cash game session received a big surprise. With no preannouncement, the site – and the rest of the PaiWangLuo Network – implemented a Quick Seat feature that did away with the traditional ring game lobby. People now choose the game, stakes, and table size they want to play, and the software will place them at a matching table. It's no longer possible to select the table or seat that you wish to occupy. For a detailed description of how Quick Seat works, check out our reporting on the feature after it was first released.

The addition of Quick Seat to the poker software has proven quite controversial especially among dedicated poker enthusiasts who find that it makes poker more difficult for them. They're particularly peeved by the fact that it's not an optional upgrade but rather a complete replacement for the previous lobby system. Unfortunately for them, Ignition likely doesn't care much at all about inconveniencing serious grinders.

Ignition Poker Quick Seat

Ignition's Quick Seat Interface

About Ignition Poker's Aims

Quick Seat is billed as a way to make it easier for inexperienced and occasional poker players to get into the game. This is the demographic that Ignition Poker and its sister company, Bodog, have decided to focus on. Their attitude makes a lot of sense when we consider that poker is a distant third behind sportsbook and casino in terms of revenue figures for the PaiWangLuo Network, of which Ignition is a member, as a whole. The organization loses a ton when its sports and casino customers throw their money into the hands of skilled pokerists who then proceed to withdraw it from the system.

The much-lauded and -derided “recreational player model” at Ignition/Bovada/Bodog has been in operation for several years now and is designed to cater to newcomers and casual players by protecting them from being preyed upon by those who are more savvy and proficient. Some of the aspects of this recreational player model are anonymized gameplay and the four-table-per-player limit on cash games open at the same time. It's no secret that the mindset behind these decisions is one that is uninterested in the feelings or preferences of poker pros.

Quick Seat Issues

Even taking into account this philosophy at Ignition/PaiWangLuo, there are still reasons to decry the introduction of Quick Seat to the poker room. It promotes a lot of shorthanded play because people who select a type of poker that doesn't have a game running will be seated at a new table. Then when someone else joins in, the game will start heads-up and, hopefully, fill up eventually. A few forum dwellers at appreciate this ability to play one-on-one or three-handed against fish, but this is the exact opposite of what Ignition wishes to accomplish. At the same time, recreational players who are uncomfortable with short tables may just get frustrated and log out of the poker software. Making this situation worse is the fact that many players have reported being sat at empty tables even when there are games running with open seats.

One of the most frowned-upon practices in online poker is "ratholing": winning a sizeable sum and then leaving the table, only to rejoin it minutes later with a smaller stack. Most sites have rules prohibiting anyone from reentering a table with fewer chips until a certain amount of time has passed. Ignition's Quick Seat allows people to engage in ratholing by simply exiting a table and Quick Seating themselves multiple times until they regain the seat they had just left.

Another problem is the fact that less popular games, like Limit Holdem and Limit Omaha/8, now hardly ever start. This is confirmed by the experiences of several posters at TwoPlusTwo. User “bicyclekick” stated that he used to pay thousands in rake per month but now can seldom find a game at the $30/$60 and $20/$40 stakes he frequents. Even at lower blind levels, LHE fans have trouble getting action.

It isn't the case that these players are now switching over to the "dark side" of no limit or pot limit poker. “BigBadBabar,” a moderator in the Micro-Small Stakes Limit section of TwoPlusTwo, recommended that readers go to Americas Cardroom for limit tables, a sentiment echoed by many. So not only is Ignition displeasing this contingent of its customer base, but it's also possibly cutting its revenue by a small yet noticeable amount by driving players into the arms of its competitors.

It's not all doom and gloom for Ignition Poker however. As Redditor “s_cott075” points out, Quick Seat makes it harder to collude because potential cheaters will have more difficulty joining the same tables as their partners. And anecdotal reports suggest that tables of Ignition's main game, 6-max No Limit Hold'em, are filling up quickly even during non-peak hours: maybe even more quickly than before Quick Seat hit the scene.

Quick Seat Recommendations

So can Quick Seat be improved to remove most of its weaknesses? We at Professional Rakeback think so. After keeping an eye on the conversations taking place all across the internet and thinking deeply about the matter, we've feel that the implementation of 4 suggestions will be enough to remedy most of the faults of Quick Seat:

Group of People1. Show the Number of People Playing

If Ignition Poker started to display the number of people active on tables of a given type, then observers could choose to enter those specific games rather than semi-randomly clicking on whatever they feel like. This would reduce the incidence of people sitting by themselves at tables or having to play shorthanded when they don't want to. We already know that Ignition isn't fundamentally opposed to showing the number of participants in a given format of game because it already displays this information in its fast-fold Zone Poker lobbies.

Up and Down Arrows2. Allow the Selection of Ranges of Stakes

Many people are just interested in getting into the action and aren't especially picky about playing at a particular level of blinds. For instance, a $50nl player might be willing to try $100nl or $25nl if there's nothing going at his preferred level. By permitting someone to request a seat between a range of blind levels, Ignition will be able to cater to these flexible players and accommodate their wishes. Limit players in the United States have grown used to jumping into whatever games are running, and so Ignition could keep them happy and boost the total rake they collect at the same time.

List on Clipboard3. Set up Lists of Interest

Ignition often considers itself the closest thing to live poker on the internet, and this is true to some extent. However, in live poker, nobody has to start a new table or take a seat at a short table unless they want to. Whenever someone Quick Seats into an empty game, Ignition could give him or her the choice of sitting down immediately or joining a list of interest. Then when four or five people are on the list, they could all be transported to a new table and thus avoid the annoyance of shorthanded play.

Not allowed4. Take a Tough Stance Against Ratholing

Tracking stakes on a per-table basis and restricting people from rejoining with a lower number of chips undoubtedly poses some programming challenges given the major changes that have taken place at Ignition. This is no excuse though because the company should have considered the risk of ratholing before instituting Quick Seat. Even if it's too difficult to implement per-table anti-ratholing rules, it should be trivial to keep players from entering a game of the same format and stakes with less then the amount they had recently left a similar table with.

Ignition Poker Divider

The Quick Seat mechanism at Ignition Poker has both its supporters and detractors. We believe that with a little fine-tuning, the site could accomplish its goals without alienating the very players it seeks to court. If you don't have an ignition account yet but would like to see Quick Seat for yourself, then read our review to learn how to join the site. If you're put off by the entire idea of Quick Seat and are looking for a new poker home, then Americas Cardroom might be right for you. Be sure to check out our list of U.S.-friendly poker operators for more options on where to play.