Last week, PartyPoker surprised the online poker community by removing its highest stakes real money cash games. Gone are all No-Limit and Pot-Limit tables at stakes above $5/$10 and all Fixed-Limit tables above $30/$60.
Some players received the following short message from PartyPoker via e-mail:
We have removed some of our super high stake games, this decision has been taken to make improvements to our poker ecology and in our players best interests.
We will still offer high stake games at NL1000 PLO1000 and FL 6000.
We believe this change will improve the action at our tables and is in the best interest of the poker room as a whole. The change will remain in place for the foreseeable future.
In attempting to analyze that vague statement, let’s take a look at an article Brandon Adams wrote for Bluff Magazine back in November 2006. In the piece, entitled “The Poker Economy,” Adams wrote that one problem with high stakes games for sites is that they are much less profitable than low stakes games. Because online poker rooms must pay fees to payment processors to get player deposits onto the site, high stakes games cost more since they require more money. At the highest levels, the proportion of rake to buy-in is much smaller than at low stakes, making the increased costs all the more painful.
Adams also wrote the following:
From the site’s perspective, there are two further disadvantages to offering bigger games. Bigger games make players a) more likely to bust, and b) less likely to recover from a bust. Once a player blows through his bankroll, he usually has to look for sources outside of poker to replenish it. If the stakes he plays for become big relative to the money he’s capable of obtaining from other sources, then it’s less likely that he’ll recover from a bustout.
Hence, the “improvements to our poker ecology.”
Continuing on that train of thought, Two Plus Two poster “Matt Probability” opined that the high stakes pros will take their business elsewhere, something that will be good for the rest of the players on PartyPoker. He said, “…this move is best for all the lower stakes grinders who will now have a chance to earn the easy money while the sharks move off of the site.”
Two Plus Two’er “Bigoldnit” played devil’s advocate, though, posting, “Or maybe the sharks move down in stakes and have to play more tables in order to make the same amount of money while some of the whales look for other sites that will allow them to gamble at the stakes they want…”
Poker pro Andrew “good2cu” Robl took a more cynical stance, saying, “Good for party. This way when people are stuck and trying to get even their only option will be casino/pit games.”
PartyPoker currently ranks as the third largest poker room or network on the internet, with a seven-day average cash game player count of 2,500, according to PokerScout.com. In its Weekly Online Poker Traffic Update, PokerScout said that the elimination of the high stakes cash games has yet to have a great effect on Party’s traffic, as those games did not attract many players. The high stakes games accounted for just 0.6 percent of Party’s overall cash game traffic. Its traffic count for the week dropped 0.8 percent. That is not to say all is well, though, as PartyPoker’s traffic is down 44 percent from the same time last year.