PokerStars new “active wait” system might end bumhunting

Jon Pill
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Posted on: September 30, 2020 4:36 pm EDT

PokerStars has launched a new system for their waiting lists.

Their press release states that they “created this new system for those who like to play cash games with [PokerStars] and it is primarily designed to combat predatory behavior and level the playing field.”

The system in its broadest strokes is simple: in order to join the waitlist for one table, you must now join and actively play at another table of the same kind, i.e. same stakes, same poker variant, and the same maximum number of players.

There are a few wrinkles in the details. For example, the players do not get offered the seat on a first-come-first-served basis. Instead, their blurb says that “when a seat at your preferred table becomes available, a draw will take place between all players who are waiting to join that table while playing on other tables, and one player will be offered the seat.”

The draw weights a player’s chances by how long they’ve been active at their “waiting table.” That gives players an incentive to join promptly.

Sitting out at the wait table will also bump you out of the draw altogether. So players have to put in hands while they wait or risk missing out.

Bad Pros

Some folks view bumhunting — the act of only playing when a known fish is in the game — as a standard part of playing the game. It makes sense to play only when you have an edge, and your edge is the biggest when playing against weak players.

Other folks view the habit of bumhunting as parasitic. In their view, it scares the big donors away or kills the fun for them. Either way, it means less play and fewer donations from the fish.

Recently, the harsher view of bumhunting has again come into vogue. RunItOnce bans external heads up displays. GGPoker flat out bans bumhunting players, and Daniel Negreanu praised increased rake for driving out the sharks in some games. Admittedly, all those actions have been somewhat controversial.

Beating the competition

GGPoker’s apparently arbitrary banning of players during the WSOP fanned back to flame the long-standing debate about bumhunters and “fixing poker”

But GGPoker’s solution to it was hamfisted in the extreme. They eroded customer confidence with their arbitrary seizures of funds and equally arbitrary flip-flopping.

In GGPoker’s defense, they’re relatively new to the game. They only launched in 2014. And now the big guns are showing them how to take on unwanted player behavior. PokerStars has been around since 2001. It’s old enough to vote. And with that age comes experience.

The PokerStars team came up with an elegant solution in their “active wait” lists. With a simple software adjustment, PokerStars has turned bumhunting into an enormous pain in the proverbial.

If the system does work the way they claim it will, it’ll even increase the number of rakes hands being played on their site. And it will still allow enough room for table selection that most of the pros won’t try to smash the furniture.

The games get bigger, with more recs, more fun, more profit. Everyone wins. Even the bumhunters — in a roundabout way.