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PokerStars Player Meeting Report, October 2013

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  • PokerStars Player Meeting Report, October 2013

    I’d like to offer my thanks to the six players who joined us on the Isle of Man in late October for our semiannual player meetings. The input we received will be valuable as we work to improve the site in the coming months.

    I have requested of the player representatives that they leave the posting of PokerStars opinions to me, instead including in their trip reports their own opinions. Below are our (PokerStars) thoughts regarding the topics discussed.

    VIP Program
    We are not making any changes to the VIP Program in January 2014. There are some types of changes that can be implemented at any point in the year without negatively impacting players, so there is some possibility that there may be changes of this sort later in 2014.

    I do not expect that there will be any increases in value offered to Supernova+ players in the foreseeable future.

    VIP Store
    We remain committed to providing a wide variety of high quality merchandise in the VIP store. We have recently started working with new suppliers that will allow us to improve variety.

    Electronics and books are areas in which we are currently working to improve variety. We are also considering changing t-shirt designs more frequently.

    Items branded with VIP statuses have proven popular thus far. We will continue to offer them.

    Ring Gam3 Rake
    We are aware of the many posts on the forum here that claim PLO rake is too high and/or that PLO games are unbeatable. We have been discussing this issue with players at these meetings for over a year now. We have reviewed PLO rake and win-rates in comparison to other games in at least three different ways, creating new ways to analyze this information in between player meetings. Each analysis leads to the same conclusion: PLO rake is not too high and the games are beatable for a healthy profit.

    I have no doubt that some players will not be convinced by this statement and that PLO rake will be a topic that comes up in the future. As long as player representatives want to discuss this topic at our meetings, we will continue to share our analysis and listen to player thoughts.

    Our analysis does suggest that rake might be out of balance in a few other game types. In some cases rake might be lowered, and in other cases raised. We will review in more detail and consider making changes early in 2014.

    We aim primarily for our promotions to engage recreational players, though there are exceptions such as Happy Hours and Battle of the Planets that tend to reward regulars more. Improved milestone hand experience and the introduction of Golden SNG are two examples of promotions improvements in 2013. We also introduced the prize drawing reward mechanism during our August VIP promotion, visualized in the client through 4-max shootout flipaments.

    We plan to add a few more promotions types to our bag of tricks in 2014. Expect them to debut later in the year. I cannot offer any details in public due to our desire to keep such information out of the hands of competitors.

    Player representatives had the opportunity to play on PokerStars 7 and provide feedback. We look forward to the full release of PokerStars 7 software in 2014.

    Each year it becomes more and more a mobile world. We are continuing to work to improve our already successful phone and tablet applications.

    Our anti-ratholing functionality is developed and tested. We plan to start rolling it out this month for at least one stakes. I acknowledge that this is significantly later than our originally planned deployment date. I hope it proves worth the wait.

    We plan to work to improve our ability to prevent datamining of our site, as in the long run this is likely to be the most effective method of preventing the sharing of hand histories in violation of our terms of service and the inappropriate public display of results based on datamined hands.

    We recognize that many players do want us to automate dealmaking in tournaments. As an item frequently requested in player meetings, this will get additional priority yet again.

    We are not going to spread open-face Chinese in the foreseeable future. Programmers have already developed very sophisticated bots that perform at a very high level in this game of perfect information, making it a poor choice to add to our selection of games despite its clear popularity.

    Ring Game Seating
    Ring game seating is easily the largest player behavior problem we are currently facing. Unfortunately there is no easy solution.

    Many players would like us to ban the use of seating scripts. There are three common complaints about such scripts. The first is that they result in an ‘unfair’ ability for some players to reliably get seats against desirable opponents. The second is that the use of such scripts makes transparent to desirable opponents that they are being hunted, so much so that these opponents become discouraged or dissatisfied and play less or not at all. The third is that some consider the purchase of scripting software a necessity to be successful at certain game types, resulting in an unnecessary and substantial drain on the poker economy as regulars feel forced to pay (sometimes quite a lot of) money to script authors.

    We agree that the current situation is problematic. We do not agree that taking action against seating scripts is a good solution for two reasons.

    First, enforcement is likely to either be ineffective or have negative side effects. The strictest measures that would have the best chance of greatly reducing the use of seating scripts would also result in stopping the use of popular software programs such as Table Ninja that do not break our current rules. Enforcement measures designed to continue to allow use of software such as Table Ninja would not be able to detect certain kinds of scripts, especially custom made scripts with small distributions. The end result would be that those with specialty scripts who were willing to break the rules would have a low probability of getting caught. We will continue to review possibilities for enforcement to see if we can identify better options, but we do not have high hopes at the moment.

    Second, seating scripts are only a symptom of the overall problem. In a world without seating scripts, players might be able to ‘fairly’ compete in their development and execution of sophisticated bumhunting strategies. However, the experience of the targeted desirable opponents would not be much different. The reality is that for certain mid and high stakes games, in our current environment there are simply going to be players who focus almost exclusively on getting the best seats. Getting rid of scripts won’t change that.

    It’s better for poker, and for PokerStars, if the primary focus of successful players is on play at the tables, not lobby gamesmanship. While table selection has long been an important skill utilized by successful players, we’ve gotten to the point where sophisticated bumhunting is damaging the overall poker playing environment enough that the importance of solving the problem might outweigh the desire to preserve the long valued skill of table selection.

    We do not plan any immediate action on this issue, but only because we do not currently have a good solution. We do appreciate the high importance of this topic; addressing seating issues is the top priority for our ring games manager in the coming year.

    Ring & SNG Offering
    We have a fairly comprehensive offering of ring games and Sit & Go tournaments. For ring games, the main outstanding requests we have from players are for heads-up tables at additional game types. We plan to make changes to our HU ring game tables in 2014 to improve the lobby situation, after which we will consider offering new types of HU tables. We plan to launch HU Zoom in the next month as an alternative to traditional HU cash tables.

    Sit & Go offerings are always a challenge. Liquidity is critically important for Sit & Go tournaments. While a player might correctly point out that if we were to offer their favorite new tournament type it would get plenty of players, the same argument could be made for a large number of variants. It’s critically important that we not offer so much variety that players are spread out too thin, resulting in long waits for tournaments to start.

    We were able to quickly accommodate one request made during the meetings for two new 180-player SNG, a $0.50 Turbo and a $1.00 regular speed.

    PR & Forum Presence
    Taken all together, PokerStars staff members spend quite a substantial amount of time reading forums and making posts. While certain individual staff members may not post every day or even every week, PokerStars is still quite active. For example, I post far less frequently than I used to, but I work closely with Nick, Baard, Chris, Caleb, and Gareth, who collectively post quite a lot.

    We participate here for a few reasons. The primary reason is to better understand you, our customers, and listen to your feedback and suggestions. Additionally, in the unusual case that PokerStars has made a customer-facing decision that is not in line with our policies and principles, the forums provide an additional way for the community to draw attention to the issue. We are also able to directly answer customer questions on a wide variety of topics. Finally, the forums are a good way for us to explain why we have taken certain actions, as an explanation made in a single post will be viewed by many readers.

    We are not here to engage in debates beyond the point at which the discussion is no longer constructive and new ideas are not being exchanged. We also do not aim to please all forum participants with every decision, which is good because that would be impossible as two forum members often each desire exactly the opposite decision as one another. In some cases we even knowingly make decisions that we know are displeasing to the majority of posters here! After all, certain types of players are not well represented on these forums, but they must be considered when making decisions.

    We make a lot of decisions as a company, and we make a lot of posts too. It is unlikely that many, if any, of you will agree with absolutely everything that we post and every decision that we make. This does not mean that we are not listening. I can assure you that the input provided on these forums and in the player meetings is extremely important to our company and that we listen very carefully. Coming to a different conclusion is a very different thing than not listening.

    One area of potential improvement is finding a way for our forum posts to be more easily found by players. A FAQ, for example, would allow information posted here by our staff to be more visible to players. Information posted can often be buried deep in lengthy threads that many forum users do not care to read in their entirety.

    Other Topics
    The meetings on Game Integrity, Live Events, and Scheduled Tournaments were led by other PokerStars staff members. I will work with those staff members to ensure you get some statement from us regarding those meetings. I can say with regard to live events that we are currently taking a very close look at the EPT London hotel situation and expect to take action and make a formal statement in the near future.

    Looking Forward

    We are excited about the improvements that we will be delivering to you in the coming year, starting with PokerStars 7. We will continue to listen to player suggestions and feedback and build the input into our plans and prioritization.

    The focus of many of our efforts over the coming year will be on pleasing recreational players. This includes retaining existing players and making the first few experiences on the site more pleasing for new players.

    We plan to hold the next player meetings in April 2014.

    Thanks again to the player representatives for the time and effort they volunteered for the purpose of improving our site. It was a pleasure to meet and interact with all of you.

    PokerStars Representative

  • #2
    Very Informative, thanks for posting Steveumbup:
    "A weak player may be a nit but a nit is not necessarily a weak player"


    • #3
      No doubt over at 2+2 the wailing will continue.


      • #4
        Thanks "Mr D" for all the info and taking the time to share it with us.
        Much appreciated.
        Bracelet Winner


        • #5
          Thanks for the info, I still believe that anonymous tables are a way to please both customers, those that want to escape the stalker/hunter and those that still want to use their huds etc. There would be tables and tournaments for each. More and more I see sites bringing in those types of tables where only the cards are visible and you play with knowledge alone, no mechanics and no stats on anyone. Time and time again I see the normal top place finishers out first. Or not cashing.
          2012 Double Bracelet Winner

          Bracelet Winner


          • #6
            Hi Steve, Thanks for the posting, Great insight into what goes on behind the scenes. umbup: Would never have known about "sophisticated bumhunting"! Now now, settle down and stop sniggering at the back of the PSO class.


            • #7
              Wow HU zoom cash will be a nice addition. Looking forward to all the improvements umbup:



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