PokerStars Makes All Heads-Up Games Zoom Poker

Date: 2016-02-12
Author: Jason Glatzer

The next time you want to play someone "heads-up for rolls," you will likely need to challenge them on another site besides PokerStars.  This is because the world's largest real money online poker room has recently announced that starting February 12, it is removing all of its standalone heads-up ring-game tables and instead offering them in Zoom Poker only.

It is well-known that many heads-up regulars refuse to play against each other, waiting for softer "victims" instead.  In addition, table-finding software and seating scripts have added to the potential issue PokerStars is attempting to remedy in order to improve the poker ecosystem.

"These changes are part of PokerStars' ongoing strategic plan to improve the poker ecosystem and enhance the player experience," PokerStars Vice President of Corporate Communications Eric Hollreiser commented. "In this case, we aim to reduce the widespread predatory behavior at heads-up games. We expect these changes to incentivize more players to be focused on playing poker and less focused on selecting opponents. Ultimately, we believe this will raise the competitive bar and help increase a fun and fair playing experience for everyone."

On the other hand, many players think this is outrageous and look at it as a money grab on the part of PokerStars to make sure as much of a weaker player's deposit winds up in their hands instead of the hands of players.  United Kingdom's Jamie 'buffyslayer1' Wilby was one player to comment, saying on PocketFives, "It's part of the war on regs. HU regs have high win rates and weaker players don't last long, so the deposit doesn't get raked."

It seems player reaction is almost unanimous that PokerStars has gone too far with trying to protect its players.  While most players are for measures to prohibit seating scripts, removing heads-up games has left a sore taste in just about everyone's mouth.

Other players look at it as table selection is part of the skill of the game.  New Jersey's Eli 'curiousgeorge77' Elart expanded on this when commenting, "Wow! I'm just a casual player and think this is terrible! Poker is a game of skill and memory. Table selecting is one of the best ways for a player to try capitalize on his game by playing opponents the player believes they can beat."

Elart may have a good point, since while heads-up regulars may have been avoiding each other, the same might be true for recreational players.  They too might have been avoiding some of the stronger players and now may not have the opportunity to do so.

Another reason people are up in arms about this change is that they feel poker is about game flow, and moving the games to Zoom takes this aspect of the game away.  TwoPlusTwo poster 'Monorail' commented, "I'd imagine that far more so than other forms of poker, HU requires an observation / adaptation to game flow, tendencies, and results from that session. Zoom will essentially destroy that since you'll be seated with a different opponent each hand."

Canada's Chris 'PocketSims' Simoneau summarized what most players are thinking the best: "This is just terrible. Why not have both?"

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