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PokerStars Ends Five-Max Cash Trial

Mia Gardner | 13 Aug 2019

PokerStars has effectively ended a test-phase involving five-max cash tables on its European site. The partially ringed site is home to the operator’s French, Spanish and Portuguese players and if often utilised as a guinea pig testing ground by the operator. The initial shift from six-max to five-max was implemented on July 24, but has now been changed back to normal. The changes were only applied to low-stakes games such as €2 and €5 No-Limit Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha cash games.

The European site is especially useful for testing new ideas and games because of the smaller player base. This makes any survey more effective for the evaluation of individual tastes and preferences. It also makes it easier to accumulate specific data. But perhaps most useful of all is the fact that if the effect of any given test were to be particularly negative from a player’s point of view, the effect on especially site-traffic will not be as substantial as what it would be on a site with a global player base.

No Announcement Yet

The operator has not yet indicated what the eventual outcome of the test-phase will be or whether six-max games are here to stay. It’s obvious that PokerStars will want to examine the results from all vantage points before making a decision either way.

The main issue to be examined is the pace of play. When the pace is off, it affects the players as well as revenue in general. PokerStars last year conducted a similar trial run on its Italian site. Last year’s trial sought to establish the effects that limiting players to a max-count of 6 simultaneous cash game tables played at any given time would have on overall play-pace.

The Perfect Testing Ground

The very purpose in establishing a partially ringed European site was to offer players in European countries the opportunity to be part of a much larger prize and player pool. Portugal, Spain and France were previously “ring-fenced” due to national online gambling laws. What this practically meant was that players from these three countries were only permitted to be seated at tables together with nationals from any of the three countries.

The result was anything but ideal, with players at the time limited by smaller tournament prizes and fewer games to play. The solution was the formation of a shared player liquidity model and needless to say, it worked a charm. The operator’s European site, though smaller than many others, is now the sixth-largest online Poker room in the world.

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