Closing a Few Loopholes

Edit: After listening to player feedback, we have slightly changes our plans relating to hand histories. These changes will now be rolled out from 11-13 April. The blog below has been updated to reflect our new plans.

There’s a few things happening on the MPN that I want to make you aware of.

Update: Fees on Rebuys

First things first – full disclosure. Back in November I announced that we would be trialling fees on rebuys and add-ons. Well, that trial has now completed.

As a poker player, I hoped that this experiment would fail, that players would vote with their feet and that the trial would show we’d make less money from charging these fees in the long term. However, that has not been the case. In fact, the data and analysis we have to date shows that there would be a sustainable increase in revenue from charging these fees.

As a software and services provider, our objective is to make as much money for our customers (poker rooms) – in the long term – as possible. That means developing brilliant software, running great promotions, and creating thrilling experiences. It also means optimising the rake and fee structure, to deliver as much revenue to our customers as possible in the long term.

In many cases in the past, optimising rake and fees has meant reducing the cost to players – like for example on 21st October 2015 when we drastically reduced cash game rake, or the 29th February 2016 when we reduced fees on most SNGs, or the 14th December 2016 when we reduced effective rake on Fish Party SNGs, or January 2017 when we reduced fees on Super Turbo MTTs. In all of these cases we have earned more money for our customers by reducing the cost.

In this case, we’re increasing fees. I know that many players will not like this and will find it difficult to accept, so all I can do is be transparent about what we are doing and why. The changes will take effect on 14th March.

Changes to Hand Histories

We have a difficult relationship with tracking software. Personally, I think it’s really important for players to be able to track and analyse their own gameplay, and tracking software is an excellent way to improve if used properly. It’s also a great way to be a responsible gambler, because you can’t hide from your results.

But I also think tracking software has changed the game in a way that makes it less fun. It allows you to gather huge amounts of data on your opponents, without requiring any significant attention or observation on your part. It allows you to exploit the weakest opponents exclusively, if you wish.

We have wanted to limit the ability of tracking software to gather data on opposing players for a long time, and it’s why we introduced features like Anonymous Tables and regular Alias Changes. We are making two more small changes in this area, which have implications for users of tracking software.

  • In cash games, we will only save a full hand history to your computer if you contributed to the pot. If you don’t contribute to the pot, we will save a reduced version of the hand history with only basic information such as your balance, hole cards, and the fact that you folded. This reduced hand history will not include your opponents’ hands or actions. The implication of this is that you will not be able to track hands in which you did not actively participate, nor will you be able to gather data on your opponents by passive observation.
  • We will not save hand histories for Anonymous Tables at all. These tables are intended to be a tracking software free zone, and we will take active measures to stop the use of HUDs and tracking software at Anonymous Tables, should any software provider attempt to bypass the restriction.

The net effect of this is that you can still use tracking software to track your own gameplay, and you can still use a HUD at the tables. However your tracking software will gather much less information about your opponents in general.

These changes will be rolled out from 11-13 April.

Grimming, Table Blocking, and Blind Posting

We are also closing some loopholes with regards to cash games.

  • We’ll no longer deal cards to determine the blind positions. The animation will be removed and we’ll simply randomly assign the button and blinds to the seated players. It will not be possible to sit out after the button and blinds have been assigned – hence, it will no longer be possible to ‘grim’ your opponents.
  • We’re requiring all players to automatically post blinds in cash games. This means that when you are sitting waiting for an opponent, and an opponent sits down, your blinds will automatically be posted.
  • Players will not be allowed to sit out from a table unless they have contributed to a pot first. If you try to sit out before you’ve contributed to the pot, you’ll simply be removed from the table, freeing up the seat for somebody else.

The implication of this is that it will no longer be possible to easily block Heads Up tables, nor will it be possible to refuse action from somebody who sits down with you at a Heads Up table. You will be expected to play anybody that sits down with you for at least one hand.

These changes are part of the same release as the hand history changes and will also take effect from 11-13 April.

And Finally… Fish Party on the Move!

Our next big release is tournaments for the mobile client. This will include Fish Party, SNGs and Scheduled Tournaments – it’s a big release that we’re very excited about!

The feature will be tested for a short public beta period with Betsafe on April 13th, rolling out to our remaining mobile poker rooms between April 18th – 21st.

Fish Party has been on a roll lately – in the last couple of weeks, two progressive jackpots have hit, paying out over €300,000. On top of that, if you want to earn entry into a big freeroll just by playing the game, we have Fish Party Flash running until March 19th, where you can do just that. Enjoy!

 

TL;DR

 

  • Fees will be charged on rebuy tournaments – 14 March
  • We’ll no longer store hand histories at Anonymous Tables, or if you didn’t contribute to the pot – by 13 April
  • We’re stopping grimming and table blocking in cash games, and requiring all cash game players to auto post blinds – by 13 April
  • Fish Party, SNGs and MTTs are coming to mobile by 21 April

Alex Scott (@AlexScott72o) is Head of Product (Network Games) at Microgaming, which operates the MPN and Indian Poker Network, and provides poker services to Adjarabet.

Any opinions contained in this blog are the personal views of the author only, and not of any other person or organisation.