On the New Party Poker Software
THE WEEKLY SHUFFLE, 2006-03-05, by Ozone, TwoGun
Party Poker recently released a significant software update. Some new features are cosmetic improvements aimed to make the playing experience better for all players. Other features are more specific improvements that may actually favor certain types of players over others. This article will detail some of the new software changes at Party Poker and analyze what effect, if any, they will have on the quality of competition at Party Poker.
Party Poker significantly changed the structure of its single-table tournaments. Instead of levels going up every 10 hands, levels now increase every 10 minutes (or 5 minutes for the speed tournaments). Additionally, players now start with more chips, though the starting blinds are higher. Antes were also added to the later rounds of SNG tournaments.
Compared to Party Poker's old SNG system, the blinds increase slower for the regular SNGs and faster for the speed tournaments. Overall, solid play is now rewarded more at the regular single-table tournaments, while aggression is king at the speed tournaments.
While it is understandable that Party would change the single-table tournament structure to be based on time rather than hands, increasing the levels based on the number of hands was probably more advantageous. First, it prevents players from intentionally taking up a lot of time to make a decision in the hopes that the big blind may hit a certain player when the levels increase. Second, at lower limits, the amount of hands people play will vary wildly per SNG. Casual players, who frequent lower stakes games, sometimes make decisions fast, while others take forever to make their play. If a few slow pokes happen to sit at your table, you may end up getting fewer hands at the lower limits than under the old system.
Party made several changes to their multi-table tournament structure. On the whole, these changes tend to benefit players with a more aggressive tournament strategy. First, and most importantly, Party finally caught up with the rest of the industry by adding antes to the deeper levels of their blind structure. Previously, passive players were able to stay comfortable for longer as there were no antes chipping away at their stack. Now, with antes in the pot, aggressive players have better pot odds to call all-ins from short stacks and even more incentive to steal blinds.
Secondly, the tournaments are now structured so the stacks deeper at the beginning of the tournament. Most aggressive and confident tournament players agree that the deeper the stacks, the better. Deep stacks give aggressive players more room to maneuver and show off their abilities against weaker players. Party's old structure started players off with 67 big blinds. Now, players begin with 75 big blinds. While not a major change, it is also one that favors aggressive players.
Thirdly, there is a small psychological factor in play due to the larger starting stacks. The old structure started each player off with 1,000 chips. Now, the starting stack is 3,000 chips, which gives off the illusion that there is more room to gamble and make plays. This may result in a change of playing style for some players who previously would not have made certain plays for fear of dropping into a triple digit chip stack.
The new deal making feature added to Party Poker's multi-table tournaments is the most advanced in the industry. This new feature should go a long way in helping to further the popularity of Party Poker's MTTs due to the excitement most players receive from making a deal at the final table.
In the lower right hand corner of each final table, a small box gives participants the option to specify "yes" or "no" in regards to their interest in making a deal at the final table. Players are free to change their mind at any time by selecting the other option. The software anonymously indicates the number of players interested in each option. This anonymity feature is good because it allows players to refuse a deal without having to directly defend their decision against those fervent to chop the prize pool.
Once all players have indicated interest in making a deal, play is frozen and the automated deal window opens. This window indicates the remaining prize pool and shows what each participant would receive if a deal was made based on chip counts. There is also the opportunity to create a custom payout structure. A chat box is available for players to discuss specifics of the deal.
The tournament chip leader is, by default, responsible for submitting the particulars of the deal. Other participants then get the chance to vote whether or not to accept the deal. A deal is only made if every participant votes "agree" to the new payouts. If at any point a participant clicks "Exit" on this interface, the deal making process is halted and play resumes as normal. Party Poker's new deal making process is easy to use and sets the bar in the online poker world for how a final table deal should be orchestrated.
New Lobby Look
The new lobby is mainly a cosmetic change. The lobby now has a sleeker appearance, and it is easier to find a game quickly. Party Poker added filters that help players narrow games to their liking, such as open/full tables and tournaments that are full/registering/running. None of these filters significantly assist game selection from a strategic standpoint, so they probably do not favor one type of player over another. Party Poker also added a "hide blackjack" feature, which will certainly help some players not blow their bankroll when they go on tilt.
The most important update related to gameplay is that Party now allows players to modify the size of the table window. Additionally, players have the option to tile or cascade their tables. These new features allow players to more easily play multiple tables.
Previously, players that wished to play an exorbitant number of tables (generally 5 or more) needed to invest in an extra monitor to be able to play all the games at once. Furthermore, some may have found it difficult to scroll to so many tables so quickly. Now, it is much easier for players who multi-table to play a lot of games at Party Poker.
This change will probably make the games more difficult at Party Poker. Most players who play a lot of games at once are winning players. A losing player who attempted to play so many tables at once would lose so much money so quickly that he or she wouldn't be playing poker long. Making it easier for sharks to multi-table is one of several factors that leads to significantly tougher games. More details about why this is the case can be found in our Poker Ecosystems article.
The Weekly Shuffle is our Sunday column with our observations and commentary on the poker world. Have an idea for an article? Leave a suggestion on the feedback page.
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