PokerStars used to be best known for its multi-table tournament schedule and while players certainly still flock to Stars for tournaments, the poker room has also become known for its cycling of novelty cash games. Just a week after ending the two-year run of Power Up, PokerStars announced on Wednesday the launch of not one, but two new cash games: Deep Water and PokerStars Tempest.
The two games are very similar, siblings so-to-speak. In fact, they have more in common than they do differences.
Both games a Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em. That’s about it as far as the “normal” portion of the games goes. Both Deep Water and Tempest use three blinds instead of two. As usual, there are the small and big blinds, but there is also an added “giant” blind, which is double the big blind.
Thus, blinds in a game, borrowing from PokerStars’ blog post for a moment, could be $0.25/$0.50/$1.00.
Each player also pays an ante every hand. That ante increases after every hand in which there was no showdown. In the blinds example above, the ante would start at $0.10 and go up by a dime whenever there is no showdown.
The differences between the two games largely revolve around stack sizes. In Deep Water, as the name might imply, is a deep stacked game. Players can buy-in to a Deep Water game for 50-150 giant blinds. Thus, in the example given above, a $0.25/$0.50/$1.00 game would have buy-ins of $50 to $150.
“Deep Water is a great opportunity to develop a new way of thinking about NLHE and the combination of three blinds, escalating antes and deep buy-in is sure to shake things up!” said Severin Rasset, the Managing Director at The Stars Group, in a blog post.
Tempest, on the other hand, is an extremely short-stacked game. Buy-ins can only be 5-10 giant blinds, so a $5-$10 buy-in if we keep with the example we have been using.
It is also – wait for it – an “all-in or fold” game. As that sounds, players can only make the decision to shove their chips all-in or fold. And of course, that decision would come pre-flop. The game sounds like it will be nuts, hence the name Tempest, but to keep it from getting too out of hand, there is an all-in cap equal to the maximum buy-in.
So we have one new game in Deep Water that allows players the “depth” to make moves and play some poker while dealing with a new twist and another that is just pure gambling.
PokerStars has tended to make changes in recent years to appeal to recreational players. Those changes lean toward faster games requiring less strategy. Tempest certainly fits that mold. The poker room acknowledged in its announcement that players don’t always like this and that’s why two new games were introduced.
“Of course, with their twists and turns, not every new game is right for everyone and one common piece of feedback we receive after a launch goes something like, ‘I just want to play No Limit Hold’em’,” wrote Rasset. “We want players to be excited every time they open PokerStars, and are committed to providing something for everyone. That’s why we’re thrilled to unveil not one but two new NLHE variants.”