May 08, 2011

Epic fail by PokerStars: SNG Changes

PokerStars made some big changes to SNGs over the last couple of days, announced here. By changes I mean they have ballsed them up completely. For a site that is usually so good at making improvements for it's players, this is just an epic fail.

A few months ago it was inferred that PokerStars would be reducing the rake in SNGs, and I made this post giving my suggestions for what I thought they should do and why. Yet instead of reducing the rake, they have hiked it up for the mid-stakes games, and reductions at the higher levels are very slight. One of the worst things is they are trying to pass it off as an improvement, which is, at best, stretching the truth and is, at worst, complete BS.

PokerStars has wasted an opportunity to really improve things for the long term good of the game, and perhaps make revolutionary changes that would have made them the most appealing site to play SNGs on. However, instead they've decided to be greedy, and try and rape the $0-30 stakes players as much as possible. Whilst there has been some rake reduction in places, only the high stakes SNGs (and Heads Up SNGs, not shown here) have seen any real benefit, for the rest it basically just means players are being raped a little less than they already were.

Old Buy-in
Rake %*
New Buy-in
Rake %*

However, it doesn't stop here. Whilst I think the standardization of buy-ins to 1, 3 ,5, 10, 20 etc. is a reasonable move, they have made a huge cock-up by showing the buy-in+rake in a non-rounded form in the lobby. With the standardization of buy-ins, and the new columns they are bringing in shortly, it seemed as though were trying to "tidy up" the lobby. But it looks worse than ever now:
Cartoon #4516 - 'We find it helps our less motivated employees.'

What fish wants to play a $5.48 tournament, a $53.84 tournament or even more comically a $10127.50 tournament? Who thought it would be a good idea to present the tournaments in this way? A fish wants to play a bloody $5 tournament, a $50 tournament or if they have a lot of money to spare, a $10,000 tournament. Imagine if the WSOP Main Event was changed to a $10,000+743.27 buy-in ffs. It looks utterly ridiculous.

They've also altered the structures, and seemingly "fixed" something that wasn't broken. The change has affected MTT SNGs the worst, as now you are stuck playing a bunch of extra levels early on when the good players are folding most of the time, and left it so you are shortstacked in the late game, thereby reducing a good player's edge, and ultimately their win rate. As if the increased rake in the $5-20 MTT SNGs wasn't enough, they throw this spanner in the works. I get the feeling from other grinders this could be the worst change of them all, the turbos are apparently complete crapshoots now (I haven't played just yet). Maybe they needn't have bothered with introducing a hyper-turbo SNG trial on this basis! But of course hyper-turbos have less rake...

There's still more! They're now providing 45-second timebanks in turbo games (up from 15-seconds). That's 1/4 of a level. If four players use their timebank in one hand, then the blind's will increase by the next one. That's ridiculous. Imagine the stalling that could occur in a bubble situation. I generally only end up timebanking when I get a backlog of tables due to multiple difficult decisions arising, and TableNinja's "auto-click timebank" comes into effect.  I'm sure the fish are going to love me time-banking for 45-seconds holding seven-deuce offsuit UTG at 10/20.

The timing of the changes was also rather absurd. They decided to do it randomly in the middle of the day. God knows what people who were playing at the time must have thought, and I wonder if anybody mis-registered for tournaments because of it. There was a server reset just two days before they brought the changes in on Friday 6th May. Surely this would have been a better time?

PokerStars has annoyed a lot of it's regs with this move, which just seems so counter-productive. I'm one of the biggest pro-PokerStars people I can imagine you'll meet, and here I am writing this blog berating nearly everything they've done to SNGs, on what is becoming known in SNG-circles as Black Friday II.

After all the optimism and ideas that had come about from their suggestion they would be reviewing SNGs and lowering rake, it is more than disappointing to see what they have done. It's like Pepsi telling you they have improved their formula, and you finding that urine has been added to the ingredients list. One 2+2er echoed my thoughts exactly:
I feel like a kid who's come down on christmas morning to find santa bending his mum over, and then opens his present to find a big steaming pile of reindeer s**t.
PokerStars need to admit that they've scored a huge own goal here and sort it out ASAP. From my knowledge of the lobby, less games seem to be running than I would expect at each buy-in level, so I hope the reduced traffic is a huge wake-up call and will force them into action.

I'm going to take another shot at a possible fix for the SNG buy-ins, and hope that someone from PokerStars reads it. The last time I had a go at this I may have been too ambitious for what they would be willing to do (although I still think my suggestions here are more the way forward), so I've tried to be more realistic with these suggestions:

Old Buy-inRake %*"My" Buy-inRake %*+/-*

Whilst I'm not suggesting this table is perfect, it would help ease tension with the regs who are currently 'up in arms', and mean they have keep their word and reduced rake. It would make the lowest stakes games a more reasonable prospect, it would make the mid-stakes games actually beatable, and it would solve the problem of the lobby looking a complete mess, as buy-ins would be a round number.

I would get rid of the extended time-banks, and change them back to what they were before. I would also temporarily change the structures back to what they were before, and do some significant research on how altering the structures would affect each type of SNG. I wouldn't be opposed to them implementing some changes if they have a neutral or positive affect on the games, but clearly not enough thought was put into this. Although standardization of structures seems a reasonable idea on the surface, one 2+2er made the analogy that not every car would want the same engine, and a "Ferrari" 18-man SNG, might need a different structure to a "Morris Minor" Fifty50 SNG.

Whilst my faith has been shaken in regards to PokerStars over the last month or so, it is still strong, and I have faith that they will make amends for this epic fail, and make more sensible changes. But still, for the greater good of the whole site, this needs to be reviewed immediately. It might even be better if they reverted to the old SNGs temporarily until they come up with a reasonable solution.

Please don't make us wait another 3 months though, and next time do it right.

Shortly after posting this, PokerStars SNG Manager Steve Day made this statement:
"PokerStars will directly address all questions/complaints posted here, including those referencing rake, by the end of Wednesday"

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16 Comments to "Epic fail by PokerStars: SNG Changes"

Unknown said...

Your stag do must have been awful if you were able to write all that the day after

Unknown said...

Lol nah I had a really good time thanks. Perhaps wasn't as hungover as I'd have expected today. I'm still pretty rough though, probs why I'm so grumpy in the post :)

Fenman77 said...

Good post. Play 180's myself and they have completely ruined what was a very good structure and buy-in levels (something between 12's and 36's would have been good turbo wise though, for higher buy-in players)For me, Pokerstars should go back to the old structure and just add a couple more buy-in levels at 180's. As you so rightly say epic fail.

Baruch said...

Lucky me I live in the U.S. and these changes don't affect me! :(


Unknown said...

lol Sherfy, sick brag/beat

Yeah sounds like 180s got hit pretty bad

Mark said...

Where in San Diego do you live? I live in Pacific Beach


Eyeball said...

I wrote to support immediately after opening the client. I think you should do the same and send them your post, dont just sit back and hope theyre reading it.
I have noticed that lot of players do so. I also think after reading some comments of Stars that they're rather surprised by the huge amount of negative criticism... So I still hope they react pretty soon.

Niedman said...

Hi I also have big problems with the changes and i have the feeling i cant beat the 45player Sngs anymore.You done a very good post Epitomised and i really like your Blog.
I complained already by Stars and i hope they react quick.I cant make a living like that,maybe i play for a while on Full tilt if they dont change that.
Cheers Niedman

alexandra said...

45 sec timebank in turbos sounds pretty sexy. no, wait, wtf!

Maveriks777 said...

Its hilarious for how many times and how long we asked pokerstars to make changes in sng rake and all we want now is to go back to what it was. They didnt come up with these changes in one day and I dont see them giving up on it any time soon no matter what we think. In order to make them see, all the regs who played 16s, should let 21.70 completely die, but still it probably wouldnt make too much of a difference, cause the rake% is calculated really well to be more profitable for the House.

Rupert said...

Unknown said...

With a 45 second time bank I guess we can go from 24 tables up to 35!

Unknown said...

@Frank @alexandra If you can't understand why extra timebank time is a bad thing, just see the posts in here

45 seconds + an extra 45 seconds on Final Tables meant ppl playing 1 or 2 hands per level.

It seems as if PokerStars has acted in some way against this, as 15 second timebanks have been restored to some games.

Anonymous said...

Hey man,

if you are contacting them, might as well make it a point to ask, what difference does it make to Pokerstars if the game is 25+2 or 30+2. I mean it costs them the same to run. If they want to make money just up OUR profits by increasing the buy in and keeping their rake the same ffs!


jcar9271 said...

Great post as usual James!

wtf is up with the timebank pokerstars? Gonna make it easier for the hellblood's to 40table all day whilst watching dodgey German porn and eating bratwurst.

Will be interesting to see how it all pans out.

See you at the tables.

Anonymous said...

Here we go,I know I am going to get slagged out but ill say it anyway.
Pokerstars is a Ponzi Sheme thats rigged,and as soon as anyone anywhere on the internet says something neg about them then they are jumped upon and told not to play there.
Thing is that like myself here are many many players that love to play Poker.These players are drawn to Pokerstars because they SEE winning players that take home 6 figure sums .Where is the DREAM of winning big on any of the other sites?There just arent any.
Here is my point(Sorry for taking so long)
The small guys are getting f....d over there is no doubt about it ,I am talking about the guy that pumps USD50 every couple of days(like me ok i know)he is the guy that makes everyonelse rich the fish the donk bla bla bla.
He wants a fair shake ......hes had anough and if he doesnt get the same play as the PS superstars then he WILL stop playing and then you are ALL f....d
He just wants
Truly random cards
Not losing to the big stack contantly(like the bigstack is a protected species)
Put on elimination mode after a mistake after midway in tourney
constant bad beats especially on the river

I honestly believe that Pokerstars is for the chosen few the rest are ALWAYS going to lose it doesnt really matter what cards they have or how they play them and in whatever position with whatever odds are offered against whichever type of player in whatever stage of the game with whatever stack size they have.It all doesnt matter either you accept it or dont play (or play better i can hear you say)Well really it doesnt matter cos I know that if Pokerstars is doing something wrong they will one day get caught and all the complainers whatever you want to call us will be vindicated and shown to be right that our hunch that something was not right was not some deranged donk illusion
After all the usual comments are why would Pokerstars f ...k up such a good thng when they make millions and millions.Well why did Full Tilt run a Ponzie Scheme when they had a multi million dollar business that was making s...t loads of money.Well the answer is GREED,Everone wanted thier 100 million dollars ........So Its impossible that the same could not be happening at Pokerstars?

Poker online is a scam and one day it will be proven
Thanks for your time and all the best