Unibet introduces anti-ratholing measures in cash games

Haley Hintze
Published by:
Posted on: September 21, 2021 2:59 pm EDT

Europe’s Unibet Poker has announced new measures in its ongoing effort to combat the online-poker practice of “ratholing.” Ratholing is a controversial tactic where players sit out from cash-game tables after winning a large pot, then attempt to return to the same seat with a smaller stack. In an update on the Unibet Community Forum, Unibet’s Senior Poker Product Manager, Stubbe Buchwald, detailed how the site will combat the practice, which has historically been frowned upon by players. Unibet announced the changes as part of its Version 3.11 client update.

“We’ve put quite a lot of thought into this,” Buchwald wrote. “[We] won’t be preventing the behavior completely, due to ecology concerns. If a losing player wants to take a bit of money off the table occasionally, to limit his risk, we’re absolutely fine with that, and so should other players be, if the alternative is that he/she doesn’t play or leaves the table completely.”

However, what Unibet describes as “rathole mitigation” is designed to prevent chronic abusers from manipulating their stacks constantly to avoid having larger stacks in play. Old-time poker players in live games referred to this as “going south” with the money. It was viewed as a ploy to prevent the losing players in previous pots from having a fair chance to win back all their chips.

Unibet’s mixed solution to the problem will be to impose increasingly heightened requirements on the chips forced to be returned to the table following a ratholer’s repeated sit-outs. The site will add a “ratholing counter” to each player and table to track the sit-outs, and after the fourth such sit-out, the ratholing player will be forced to return with a 100-big-blind stack.

According to Unibet, the ratholing counter specifically tracks how many times a player has left a cash game table with 100 big blinds or more — meaning after a good win — and then returned within 30 minutes, to the exact same table. The counter resets every day at 00:00 UTC and counts across all stakes and formats.

It’s the repeated and chronic ratholing that Unibet is targeting. The site also released a table showing how the measures become more severe as the sit-outs accumulate:

Sat on the exact same table within last 30min

Left table with stack in Big Blinds

Ratholing counter value

Min buy-in

Max buy-in

NO

50 Big Blinds

100 Big Blinds

YES

<= 50 Big Blinds

50 Big Blinds

100 Big Blinds

YES

50 Big Blinds < X < 100 Big Blinds

last stack at that table

100 Big Blinds

YES

>= 100 Big Blinds

0-4 (inclusive)

100 Big Blinds

last stack at that table

YES

>= 100 Big Blinds

5 or higher

last stack at that table

last stack at that table

An admitted Unibet ratholer was the first to comment on the changes. “I must say that I’m a rat,” wrote poster ByMIlo. “After all, I can’t be happy with this update even though it’s a fair one.”

Table and featured image source: UnibetCommunity.com