The move by The Stars Group, the owners of the #1 online poker site in the industry (PokerStars), to limit the number of cash game tables that players can play simultaneously has brought an avalanche of reactions. The reactions have been about 50/50, surprisingly, with some admitting that the new move will improve their game skills (poker podcaster Joey Ingram). One of those who is welcoming the change is online poker legend Phil ‘OMGClayAiken’ Galfond, who sounded off on the subject in a lengthy Twitter diatribe.
Galfond Feels Caps “Important to…Online Poker Ecosystem”
In a multi-Tweet statement Galfond, who is one of the legends of online poker with over $8 million in career earnings, states that he has always been in favor of a “table cap,” or a limit on the number of tables a player can play on. “I think they (table caps) are important for the online poker ecosystem and they improve the playing experience for many….they (also) speed up the game.” As he continues, Galfond expanded on his thought, especially in connection with PokerStars and The Stars Group’s commitment to the online game.
“I’ve feared for awhile now that PokerStars, pessimistic about the future of online poker as we know it, have been moving players towards other revenue streams while milking everything they can from what they perceive as the remaining years of true online poker,” Galfond writes. “(The table cap) flies in the face of my fear. Instead of trying to maximize rake collected before eliminating traditional online poker, they’re actually taking a step to preserve it and taking a big pay cut while doing so.”
Galfond also notes that the reduction in the table cap (from 24 to 4) will probably push the multi-table grinder towards the Zoom tables, which aren’t affected by the cap move. Looking at it from what PokerStars makes as far as the rake, Galfond says “With a cap on regular tables but not Zoom tables, tough multitablers…will now have to add, or perhaps exclusively play, Zoom tables. This…drives up game toughness and rake efficiency and drives down win rates and beatability of the games.”
What Will Be the Effect of The Cap?
PokerStars is making a bold move in putting this cap on its product. In essence, they are telling players that they can’t play 20 tables, reducing the rake that could come in from those table. With the cap now in place, PokerStars has sacrificed their spot at the top of the online poker industry. According to PokerScout, PokerStars has fallen to the #2 spot in the overall industry behind the IDN Poker Network, a powerhouse in the Asian online poker world.
Some players have bemoaned that the days of the “grinder” online may be finished with the move by PokerStars. In reality, however, that ended back on “Black Friday,” when the international poker world was rocked by the removal of the States of America from PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker. While there were some players who were able to work in the new system, the power of the “online poker pro” to basically mint money disappeared when U. S. players were knocked out of the game.
PokerStars is also potentially looking at the long game with the table cap move. The online “grinders” (those that were left) were well-known for poaching the new players by aggressively playing them, disillusioning the online “greenhorns” from continuing to play online poker. With the introduction of the table cap, the “grinders” now have to be choosy with what tables they are sitting at and, in many cases, a school of “grinders” can’t stake out seats on two dozen tables and await newcomer “fish” (another argument PokerStars used for introducing the cap – that too many multi-table grinders were packing multiple tables).
Whether the change in the table cap at PokerStars will cause a mass exodus is unknown. But The Stars Group seems to be willing to take the initial hit to continue to offer its online poker product to as big a group of players as possible. And many powerful people in the online poker industry, including Galfond, approve of the move.