Tuesday, 6th December 2022 17:38
Home / Poker / How PokerStars’ waiting lists just changed

Whenever we create a new feature, the customer experience comes first. Our goal is to provide access to what you want when you want it and to ensure an enjoyable, safe and fair experience when you get there. We also know every player is different, so we ultimately aim for a balance that is acceptable to everyone.

Our latest feature, Active Waiting List, is all about making the game fairer and the experience better for most players. We created this new system for those who like to play cash games with us and it is primarily designed to combat predatory behaviour and level the playing field. It achieves this goal by making it more difficult for some players to seek out our less experienced or more recreational players. We expect Active Waiting List to have many other positive effects on our community too because it will reduce the time players spend waiting for a seat in a cash game and increase the number of games running, which benefits everyone.

How does it work? If you play cash games online or live, you’ll probably be familiar with the concept of a waiting list. If you play live poker, you may even be familiar with feeder tables or must-move games. The basic premise is that rather than waiting around for a seat in the main game to become available, waiting players form a secondary game. One by one they get their chance to move to the main game as seats at that table become available, all while filling the wait with some poker action.

This is similar to what we want to achieve with Active Waiting List. Players waiting to join a full game must now be actively playing on another table of the same type and stakes to be eligible for a seat.

There are a few adaptations necessary for the online environment. The most significant is the removal of the typical ‘first come first served’ policy for a waiting list. In a live poker room, you would be understandably annoyed if you’d been waiting 30 minutes for a game and another player walked right in and took your seat. But waiting lists in online cash games don’t function in quite the same way. The reality is that sometimes a waiting list of 10 or more players can spring up within a few seconds.

With that in mind, eligibility won’t depend on if you were the first to get on the waiting list. When a seat at your preferred table becomes available, a draw will take place between all players who are waiting to join that table while playing on other tables, and one player will be offered the seat. The draw is weighted to favour players who have been playing on their waiting table for longer, so there is still an incentive to be early on the list.

Instead of allowing players to join waiting lists and sit out, we’re also instead rewarding engagement. So, if you are sitting out on your waiting table when a seat at the table you’ve been waiting for becomes available, you will not be offered it unless no other waiting players are actively playing. This system has been designed to encourage engagement and action, while deterring players whose only objective is to join games with weaker opponents. Now, instead of passively sitting on a waiting list until the right seat becomes available, that player will need to play in order to remain on the waiting list.

Another feature of Active Waiting List is that players on any given waiting table can be waiting for different target tables, or even not waiting for another game at all. Waiting tables look like any other table in the PokerStars lobby and are free for any player to join. Your waiting table will be the same game type and stakes as your target table. If you leave your waiting table, you will be removed from the waiting list for your target table.

We understand that people who use waiting lists to hunt weaker players will not be happy with this change, but our intention is to make the online poker lobby a fairer place and to ensure the game’s ongoing health. We are confident that this will be a positive step forward for the online poker environment and will be listening to feedback and analysing how this is received as we look ahead to additional features and updates.

We hope you enjoy this new addition and, as always, have fun and please play responsibly.

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