Our Search For The Best - Introducing All Stars
Who are the best cash game players in the world? In the coming weeks, PokerStars will be launching an exciting initiative that may finally help us to answer this question.
I have always liked cash games. They are usually played with deep stacks, players have the ability to play for the exact duration that they are willing to commit to, and mistakes or bad beats can be fixed over time. They require discipline and focus, with only a handful of people required to start a game.
It was so enjoyable for me to read about the big swings in the nosebleeds and to follow the legendary battles between Patrik Antonius and Phil Ivey... not to mention watching Daniel Negreanu laughing while playing for hundreds of thousands of dollars on High Stakes Poker.
Since these epic games, the situation has changed quite a lot. From speaking with players, reading forums and player emails, and hearing what players say to our staff at live events, it is clear that the games at mid and high stakes are getting tougher. Mistakes are smaller and edges are getting thinner.
It is not totally a surprise though. With a lot of professionals studying the game, it is the same trend that we see in any sport. If we take football as an example, a 70's team would get destroyed by a team of 2017's professionals. The game matures, people get better, they train harder and they take it to the next level. In poker, most of the winning players from a few years ago may find it tough to play against the current best players.
This diagnosis led to a simple idea: what about giving our best players the opportunity to compete in a rake-free environment, with the focus being on the skill difference between players, in order to acknowledge who the best online cash game players are?
From this idea, we came up with the concept of "All Stars", a cash game competition with the following criteria:
• One month of competition
• Two stakes: NL200 (Masters) and NL2000 (All Stars) in NL Hold'em
• 0 rake
• $100,000 of leaderboard prizes
Qualification to these tables will be determined by winnings at the NLHE cash game tables in the previous 12 months.
• Masters level: From NL100 to NL400 - at least $10,000 in winnings
• All Stars level: From NL500 and up - at least $25,000 in winnings
There will be no other way to get access to this competition; only the best of the best fighting for the top spot and the prizes. We will ask players to agree to share their hand histories with us in order for us to select content to highlight the excitement of the competition. We want to showcase these games and remind all poker players that cash games are exciting and aspirational.
Of course, all these invited players will maintain full access to all games available on PokerStars, and it will stay that way.
In the coming weeks, eligible players will receive an email announcing their selection and all the details as we are planning to run this event during April-May. The future of PokerStars All Stars depends 100 percent on the attendance. If Season 1 is a success and we gather good feedback, we are already committed to looking into a Season 2, and will consider additions such as expanding into new games and formats, and further invitations to players.
I hope that our players will engage with this format and give it a shot, and we will take all feedback into consideration. I will be railing these games closely and hope that we are on the right track to creating the next generation of epic cash game action!
Severin Rasset is Director of Poker Innovation and Operations for PokerStars.