PokerStars: SSS comeback, videochat tables & training features


This month, PokerStars introduced three new features at once: the possibility to join high-stakes cash game tables with just 10BB; video chat in the Home Games (available only for those who play via web browser); and Lex Veldhuis video tips for Spin & Go players. We will analyze all of them in this article.


Short stacks at high-stakes

After holding a series of tournaments in honor of their 20th anniversary, PokerStars almost simultaneously began testing three new features, but two of them are by no means new to the online poker industry. The most recent of them take us more than ten years ago - to the days of the short stack strategy, which is long forgotten by many players.

Currently, the minimum buy-in amount at $5/$10 - $25/$50 Hold 'em and Omaha stakes is just 10BB.

10BB purchase at PokerStars

There's a notice within the poker client that it is just a test, and the new tables are marked "Short" in the lobby. Only one such table was active at the time of writing, and the game didn't last long. Only 2 out of 4 players have joined with 10BB stacks: "rudder1ess" from the UK, who has been using SSS since those old times, and Daniel "garnerus" Gomez, an MTT player from Spain.

It is hard to imagine that turning some high roller cash games into push/fold "fun" would help PokerStars eliminate the lagging behind the GGNetwork in high-stakes cash game traffic, which has formed in recent years. We hope this "innovation" will not be tested at lower stakes.

Video chat for Home Games

Videochat tables at PokerStars Home Games

PokerStars considered the possibility of visual contact between the players as another way to succeed without the need to "reinvent the wheel."

The "Video Chat" feature has been added to the Home Games in the web browser version of the poker client (.com/.eu pools only).

It is planned to implement it to the desktop version of the software at the beginning of 2022. This feature may sound familiar to some of our readers. More than 11 years ago, 888Poker and a couple of smaller poker rooms, which had vanished long ago, already tried something similar, but without much success.

For example, GGPoker software only supports recording small videos via a webcam (SnapCam), but it is available for all tables. An attempt to test this feature on Home Games is quite logical for PokerStars, but it is unlikely to be extended to other games.

Tips from Lex

But the third novelty from PokerStars is really unique. It became possible thanks to the Aurora engine and the interactive center The Rail, which is currently available only for the .com pool players.

Level Up With Lex is the first attempt at using artificial intelligence within a poker client for interactive learning.

It consists of short videos featuring virtual Lex Veldhuis, in which he gives advice on how to play hands drawn from a player's recent hand history. It can be assumed that the AI ​​selects only the hands where players have made serious mistakes, so it would not overwhelm them with many videos.

Currently, Level Up works only for Spin & Go's and, of course, only in English. The developers promise to expand it to other poker variants in the future.

What's PokerStars doing?

Like all other poker rooms, they try to attract players' attention and somehow stand out from the competition. The testings of the novelties above will be completed next year. Even if some of them wouldn't remain permanently, one thing is clear:

After returning classic rakeback, PokerStars will intend the majority of new features for beginners and casual players to give them more fun and excitement.

Such an approach has long been trending and shouldn't come as a surprise to regular players. It became more innovative and creative due to the severe competition for the top spot in the online poker industry. What innovations would the competitors come up with - we should find out very soon.

What do you think about the chances of PokerStars' December 2021 novelties becoming trending?

Read also - How to disable the Aurora engine on PokerStars?

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