Last week, partypoker, one of the leading online poker rooms, launched a major software update with the goal of making the poker environment more hospitable for casual players. Significant changes included banning heads-up displays (HUDs) and the elimination of downloadable hand histories. Recently, partypoker partner Rob Yong posted an article on the partypoker blog to explain some of the changes.

Well, there really wasn’t that much explaining. Rather, it was essentially a recap.

On HUDs:

“We banned the use of “HUDs” (Heads-up Displays) and also stopped your opponents from downloading your hand histories into databases and software to analyse your play or to sell or swap your hand histories with other players to gain an advantage against you.”

On new screen names:

“We also asked you to select a new partypoker alias upon log-in so that the databases that hold your hand histories and the software that analyses your play is of no further use against you.”

So yeah, there isn’t anything new there. He did address the complaint that without hand histories, it is much harder for players to evaluate their own play, as they will not have the data to load into poker tracking software like Hold’em Manager or Poker Tracker. Yong said that, to that end, they will work to improve the “MyGame” portion of the software client, which provides the player with states and a report card on their personal game.

Rob Yong also said that there are “50 more improvements in progress to make partypoker fairer.”

One of these “improvements” will be a heavily increased minimum buy-in for all cash games. By the end of this month, all cash games, even FastForward, will have a minimum buy-in of 100 big blinds. Currently, players can buy-in extremely short, as low as just ten big blinds.

The reason for this is likely to protect recreational players from playing at higher stakes than they can afford. With a minimum buy-in of just a few big blinds, it is easy for players to “take a shot” at high stakes, a shot they will probably lose. By making the minimum buy-in 100 big blinds, players who should not be playing higher stakes will stay where they are more comfortable until they improve, saving their wallets in the process. And as their bankroll lasts, it’s better for partypoker.

The high minimum also prevents short-stacking and ratholing. Most people buy-in for more than the minimum (as it stands now), but some buy-in extremely short, go all-in quickly, and if they double-up, they leave. They then come back later with a short stack again, rinse, repeat. They are not fun people to play against.

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