If you have ever found yourself playing online poker and lamented that you did not have enough opportunity to toss wagers around, PokerStars may have something right up your alley. The online poker room recently began testing a new side bet feature at its Hold’em tables in certain markets. So no need to open a new casino window – time to gamble more right at the poker table!
Shrouded in mystery
There is little to no information about the side bet implementation. PokerStars has not announced it on its blog, I have not received any sort of news release as a member of the poker media, and I have not had any luck finding a page explaining the rules on any of the PokerStars websites.
Poker Industry PRO was the first site to report on the software update, though poker players on forums like Two Plus Two have confirmed that it exists.
Side bets are available in select jurisdictions. Where exactly is not known for sure, but it looks like it may be the .EU and .UK sites. The feature is only available at Hold’em tables for now.
Side bets are for action junkies
For the uninitiated, a side bet is a bet placed on something that happens in the hand, but has nothing to do with the result of the hand itself. It is a wager made on an occurrence. In the case of PokerStars, there are reportedly two side bets that can be made. Players can bet on what their hole cards will be as well as the texture of the flop.
For example, one might put a couple bucks on whether or not there will be a rainbow flop. Or maybe a fiver on if the player will be dealt suited hole cards. I don’t know exactly what scenarios PokerStars has set forth, but that’s the basic idea. As you can see, while side bets rely on cards that are dealt in the hand, they exist independently from the hand as a whole.
As such, money for side bets is not taken from a player’s poker chip stack. Instead, the bets are made directly from a player’s PokerStars account. All bets are made against the house, not other players. Again, they have no effect on the hand in play or the session in general, as nobody at the table will see their stacks increase or decrease as the result of side bets.
Poker community gives side-eye
Players who have seen the side bets have not been too keen on them. Members of the poker community – generally serious amateurs or pros – don’t want to see another mechanism geared toward bleeding a player’s bankroll away from the tables. PokerStars likely sees side bets as a way to keep recreational players engaged, as side bets are instant action, but they will likely serve the purpose of removing currency from the poker economy.
Strong players want to win money from their opponents. If someone is losing money to the house via side bets, that money won’t be put on the tables and thus won’t have the chance to end up in other players’ hands.