Heads up poker has become a controversial issue in the past few years. The issue of bumhunting, which is when an experienced player refuses to play anyone besides a perceived fish, has forced poker rooms to take drastic action to fix heads up cash games. Without action, some poker room lobbies end up with dozens of heads up tables seated with one player.
Actions Taken by Poker Rooms to Combat Bumhunting
Some online poker sites have taken unusual actions to combat bumhunters. The Bodog Network, which consists of Bodog and US-facing Bovada, removed usernames from all tables. The iPoker Network created Heads Up Hogging Prevention that tracks players that abuse heads up tables. Microgaming moved heads up cash games into an 8-man Blaze format, which is its fast fold variant. 888 removed all No Limit Texas Hold’em cash games. PokerStars is may force its heads up players to stay at a table for a certain number of hands or pay a fine to the other player.
Heads Up Games Create Potential for Fraud
Heads up games create a situation where one player can easily give money to another player. This happens when one player intentionally loses money to his opponent. This is called chip dumping. This may come from a player trying to give a loan to a player. It can also be related to fraud. Whatever the reason, site security must investigate the situation. Experienced online poker security specialists command high salaries. The rake taken from a chip dumping session might just be a few dollars and this hardly covers the expense in investigating and resolving chip dumping.
May Explain High Rake
There is generally little motivation for a site to promote heads up cash games. Weak players lose quickly and may not generate enough rake to cover the processing fees associated with a deposit. Players that lose quickly are less inclined to return due to the low entertainment value. This is hardly a situation a poker room wants.
High Heads Up Rake Punishes Table Starters
While high rake may be needed for the costs and nuisance involved in heads up cash game tables it also affects 6-max and full ring tables. Players may not be inclined to start games due to the high rake taken from a heads up table. The max rake is usually $.50 when playing heads up. This can mean that each player is paying as much as $.25 per hand to sit at a table. Heads up games can deal 200 or more hands per hour so this adds up quickly. At one point the poker room becomes the only winner. This discourages players from starting new tables or staying seated when a game becomes shorthanded.
What Can Poker Rooms Do Differently?
One way to fix the issues created by heads up play is to reward players that start new tables. In its early days, Ultimate Bet once rewarded players for starting new tables. Players were given bonus VIP points for being one of the first players to start a game. To avoid abuse, a poker room could add rules to the points. For example, a minimum number of hands played in a session or the requirement that the player stays at a table until a certain number of seats are filled. Charging different rake on shorthanded play at 6 and 9 seat tables is another idea with the threat that heads up players that move their action there and leave when games fill will be dealt with accordingly.
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