On the 11/4/07 show, the hosts reported that PokerStars was going to begin requiring all players who final table their Sunday Million tournament to allow their hole cards to be revealed for subsequent replays on the site. The agreement sounds similar to the one players who participate in televised tourneys (e.g., WSOP and WPT events) must make. The replays can be found in the PokerStars “lobby” by clicking on the “Tourneys” tab, then “Special.”
PokerStars has been showing such final table replays of big buy-in tournaments in the past, although they never required players to agree to allow their hole cards to be shown. In the past, PokerStars would email all final table players requesting their hole cards be revealed. Usually some would consent and others would not, meaning the replays often showed us some players’ cards, but not all.
After reporting the news, co-host Mike Johnson asked what I thought was a very good question regarding the new policy:
“How much of this decision, do you think, had to do with just making it more interesting for people to watch, so more people would come to their site and watch [the Sunday Million tourney], and how much of it had to do with also wanting to expose everybody’s hole cards because of some of the recent controversies there have been with multi-accounting, chip dumping, and some of the online scandals like the Absolute Poker case . . . and wanting to have a transparency there where [they] say, ‘Listen, our books are open, if you want to watch everything that happens when it gets down to the big money, you can see everybody’s hole cards, we got nothing to hide’?”
His partner, Adam Schwartz, replied he thought it was probably more for the entertainment value than for security purposes, although he admitted that making the hole cards public would lessen the likelihood of final table collusion and/or other untoward funny business.
I emailed PokerStars support to ask about the policy change. I also threw in a question about why the decision was made to require final tablists to allow their hole cards to be shown. The support person who wrote me back said nothing about security. In response to the question of why, he simply said “We believe having every player’s hole cards revealed will make these replays even more enjoyable and popular.”
Probably good form not to mention the recent troubles at other poker sites. But one has to think Mike Johnson is on to something regarding the desire for (at least some) transparency. Whatever the reason for the change, the question remains: Is the new policy fair to players who make the Sunday Million final tables?
After a bit of searching (and help from another poster), I found some discussion of the issue in a thread over in the “MTT Community” section of 2+2. Posters appear somewhat divided over the matter. A couple even indicated they would not be playing in the Sunday Million because of the policy.
Probably the most interesting part of the thread comes when Shane “Shaniac” Schleger weighs in to say he thinks “it’s kind of wrong to tack on this requirement without giving anything in return to the players.” He recognizes -- as the PokerStars support person’s response to me implies -- that “it’s a great marketing attraction for the site” to show the hole cards, “so it’d be nice if they gave us something in return.” Later, Shaniac adds that “the amount of information you wind up agreeing to reveal at an edited tv final table is absolutely trivial compared to the info you give up by being forced to show every move you make in an online FT.”
For most us, the prospect of making the final table of the Sunday Million is quite dim, and so the issue probably will seem mostly moot to the great majority of players. I know I’ll be watching some of those replays. (Whether or not I’m smart enough to pick up anything in the way of endgame strategy is another story.)
It does seem like having such a policy in place over at Absolute Poker might have made it less possible for Potripper to have pulled his stunt back in the 9/12/07 $100K Guarantee. Of course, if provisions to prevent that sort of “super user” account-style cheating are already in place -- as I assume they are over at the well-run, well-managed PokerStars (no matter what Mark Seif says) -- then there wouldn’t be a need for the extra measure.
My inclination is to take the PokerStars’ support person’s reply to me at face value. I do think the change has much more to do with marketing than with security. Regarding whether or not the new policy is fair to the players, I’m less certain. What do you think?
Once I make a Sunday Million final table and have to deal with this directly, I promise to get back to you on this one.
Labels: *the rumble