Party Poker Player Pool Unexpectedly Split Up

It wasn't so long ago that the Party Poker player pool expanded after the merger with bwin. Now it seems that the opposite is happening and players are being segregated according to ability

There have been some interesting developments over at Party Poker in the past few days as players have been reporting that they have been segregated according to past success. Regs in the cash games reported a drop in traffic and that the games had become tougher, and it didn’t take long for the winning players to realise that they didn’t have access to tables which were populated by lower volume and lower win rate recreational players. For example, a player who had been winning over a significant period of time on a Party Poker account would find that they only had access to the tougher player pool. However if they also had a bwin account (which merged with Party not so long ago) that had not been used much, then that account would have access to more tables including what would be considered some very juicy ones to a winning reg.

At first there was plenty of confusion as the move had not been communicated to players and some thought that perhaps it was a software bug, but a recent statement from Party confirms that players will deliberately be segregated:

We are continually looking for ways to balance our poker room ecology. As we have said before, we are testing various features to make poker a more fun and entertaining game for both new and inexperienced players. Our extensive research shows that new and inexperienced players enjoy the game more and continue playing for longer if in the early stages they play with players of a similar ability, this includes, but is not limited to our welcome lounges. These players are free to play on any table they chose.

Thanks
Party Poker”

So what are we to make of this? In theory the idea of looking after the recreational players so that they don’t go bust so quickly is a sound one. A common concern amongst inexperienced players is that they will be targeted by sharks who have access to specialist software that puts the more casual players at a disadvantage. New money being deposited into the system at the lower levels is vital to the long term health of any site so it is understandable that Party wants to look after the players who are doing just this.

However, it is not without its downsides. If a winning reg realises that he is always being seated at a table full of other winning regs, how is he going to react to that? It doesn’t take a genius to realise that playing games in which they have little or no edge is going to result in the money being passed back and forth with the continuous rake making it a –EV proposition. Nobody is going to volunteer to play such games, so either the regs (who contribute a large percentage of the site’s profit) will leave and find a new home to play, or they will find a way to get themselves access to the juicier player pool, making multi-accounting rife. It’s hard to imagine that Party Poker is going to be happy with either of those scenarios.

If anybody was thinking that there may be another option of manipulating an artificial win rate by for example spewing stacks off at the micros then playing solidly at higher stakes, that has already been thought of. Updated terms and conditions on the Party Poker website state that among what they list as unfair practices are “Players intentionally losing games on low stakes tables to keep their rank at a lower level than it would otherwise be.”

It will be interesting to see how this works out. It is certainly a risk, as for reasons previously mentioned it could easily result in a significant drop in overall traffic and therefore profit. If it does work out well though, it could be remembered as a pioneering move that other sites implement in future. For now we shall just have to wait and see what happens next.

If you fancy giving it a try at the new style games you can sign up for a new Party Poker account here

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