888 Network Removes Heads Up Cash Game Tables

888888 removed heads up cash game tables from its lobby, according to reports from players.  The move came without any announcement from 888.  Two Plus Two user MadeInPolanD posted an email from 888 support explaining the reasoning behind the move.

A view of the 888 lobby shows just a handful of active heads up cash game tables.  New heads up cash tables are not generating and there are no heads up cash game tables with one seat open.  Heads up games are still available in tournament formats.

Update 8/26: An 888 representative confirmed the move with 4Flush this morning:

I can confirm that as from 25/08/2013 a change has been implemented and all Heads up Cash games have been removed.

Fixed limit heads up cash tables, which were removed after no limit tables on Sunday, were available overnight according to Pokerfuse.  4Flush also confirmed that fixed limit heads up cash game tables were once again live this morning.

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This is the latest move by an online poker room or network to address its issues with some heads up players.  Heads up cash game tables have long been a problem for online poker rooms.  Players referred to as “bumhunters” often populate these tables.

A bumhunter will sit at a table and wait for a weak opponent.  This type of player may leave the table or sit out if a player joins and the bumhunter feels they do not have an advantage over the newly seated player.  This has caused a scenario where many heads up cash game tables are available with one player sitting at each of them.  In this scenario, the regular players do not want to play each other, only weak or unknown players.

What do other networks do to combat issues at heads up tables?

Some online poker networks have taken creative actions towards heads up players that abuse the system.  The iPoker Network added a feature that may be used by operators to punish players that violate heads up table rules.  Microgaming (MPN) moved all of its heads up cash games to the fast-fold Blaze Poker format.  The Bodog Poker Network made all tables anonymous so that bumhunters could not stalk weak players at any table.  PokerStars introduced a program called King of the Hill that forces players that are the first to sit at any cash game table to accept action or get booted.

Heads up cash games have always required special supervision.  Weak players tend to go bust faster at these tables and their losses are not equally distributed throughout the players or the rake.  Chip dumping is also a concern at heads up cash games.  For these reasons, expect there to be more innovation on the heads up online poker front.

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