Online poker rooms start to change their ways. A new U.S friendly poker room opens. The list of banned Belgium poker rooms grows. Poker Stars SCOOP events witness another epic run and Zoom Poker is officially launched. All this and more in this week’s poker news.
Merge to unveil new poker client
With the announcement of the Cake poker takeover by Lock Poker, many online sites have announced some major changes to their services. Lock themselves have announced a change in rake-back for Cake players. The current rate is 33% and will be changed to 36% at the end of May. This is one of the higher rake back percentages on the market and is sure to be a marketing plan to attract more players. This is however good for players at the Cake Poker room.
Current Merge network partner – Carbon Poker has released a new version of their poker client. The new version is called 6.0 and boasts some slick new features. New search tools allow you to more thoroughly and efficiently find tournaments and players. You could even find notes on a certain player using this tool. Other added features include a Game List Expander that will give fast access to game information. Register or join tables without opening the lobby using this new feature as well.
Overall the new software is geared towards filtering options and ease of use. This will make playing on Merge allot faster and easier. Carbon Poker is the flagship of the network and one of the few remaining American facing poker rooms. With Lock Poker jumping ship, it was inevitable to see some changes to help put the focus back on Merge. Lock Poker was the largest skin on the network containing almost 40% of the player traffic. I guess Merge hopes a new poker client will help attract new players and keep old ones.
The Belgian blacklist grows
Players who reside in Belgium now have fewer choices to play online poker. The country implemented a law last year making it illegal to play on any site not regulated by the Belgian government. Players caught playing on no-regulated could face fines up to 25,000 Euros. Sites already on the blacklist include top sites such as Titan Poker, 888 Poker and Everest Poker. The list grew to 30 this week with the banning of William Hill, Betsson, Expekt, Betclick and Stan James poker rooms.
France and Italy have similar laws in place that restrict players to government regulated sites but Belgium differs in one way. Unlike the French and Italian players who can only play against players in their country, Belgians can still play with the rest of the world. Sites operating under Belgian rule must be connected with a brick and mortar casino and use a .BE web address. Some sites like Party Poker and Ipoker believe these laws to be in violation of European Union Law and are unenforceable and will continue to offer their services to Belgians.
Shaun Deebs hat-trick
Last week we reported on Viktor Bloms amazing performance in the Poker Stars SCOOP events. His back to back to wins are quite impressive, but hes been outdone by poker pro Shaun Deeb. Deeb has now claimed his third SCOOP title this year and fourth overall by winning Event 26. The $2,100 buy in, seven card stud Hi/Lo saw Deeb take home more than $40,000 after besting 76 players. His tri-fecta all came in stud events crowning him stud king of the SCOOP series. His other wins include event 10 $2,100 Seven Card Stud for $41,600 and Event 19 $2,100 Triple Stud for $44,200. Deeb stands atop the SCOOP leader board with 470 points and looks to be a lock to take it down.
Fast poker taking over the internet?
A few months ago Poker Stars introduced their version of Rush Poker. Zoom Poker is a fast paced variant of poker. The game rules are the same with one major difference. Once you fold your hand you are whisked away to a new table and can continue playing without having to wait for the hand to play out at the last table. This equates to about 3 times the hands you can play versus normal games. Zoom poker was credited for almost half of the cash game hands played on Poker Stars since it opened to the public.
Zoom Poker rolled out a few months back but its official launch was this week. The first release only allowed certain games and limits and was considered to be in Beta testing. After more than 300 million hands, players can now play up to four tables at any stake ranging from $.01/$.02 up to $2.50/$5.00. They also allow up to 8 tables across multiple limits. More new features unveiled in the official launch include pressing the CTRL key to see the last hand play out if you folded .Perhaps the best upgrade to its launch is the ability to play on mobile devices. As of now Zoom poker can be played on any Android device. All the players and features available on the standard version are on the mobile application. Texas Hold ‘Em, Omaha, Omaha Hi/LO and Draw games are now available on Zoom Poker.
The popularity of this fast paced version of poker has prompted other sites to hop on the bandwagon. Terminal Poker is a site dedicated to this fast poker style and offers nothing but fast poker. You can play on any browsing system and on mobile devices.
Gaming software developers Microgaming have also release their version of fast poker. Blaze Poker was launched officially May 18th 2012. It claims to be the best of all fast poker versions claiming an average of 300 hands per hour expected. It’s the same as all other forms with one difference. The game will run directly off the MPN client allowing a more fluent integration among player pools. Here is the official statement from Microgaming and Head of Network Games, Lydia Melton:
The Microgaming Poker Network (MPN) is pleased to announce that Blaze Poker has made its debut.
The innovative features of Blaze Poker will allow poker players to join a ‘pool’ rather than a fixed table. When players fold a hand they are instantly presented with a new hand to play, ensuring no wait between hands.
A single Blaze Poker table is expected to average an impressive 300 hands per hour, which is the equivalent to four or five normal tables.
Blaze Poker is the ‘best of breed’ of fast poker variants. The transition from game to game is seamless, and from launch, players can play multiple times in the same player pool.
Lydia Melton, Head of Network Games at Microgaming, commented, “Although a few fast poker products have popped up on the market in recent months, from an operator perspective, Blaze Poker sets itself apart with its seamless integration. Blaze Poker will run directly in the MPN client software, creating a user experience that is second to none.”
New American facing poker room
Despite the current landscape of American online poker, a new site has given the middle finger and launched a poker room that serves American players. Poker Pros Network launched in early May and is comprised of seven skins. The PPN skins all offer their own unique style. One of the skins, PokerRoomUSA.com is a subscription site. Players pay a fee per month and no money is wagered at the tables. Prizes are awarded in lieu of money.
Other sites are geared towards specific niches. The NoTiltPoker skin caters towards the older players by offering satellites in live events such as the Seniors World Championship at this year’s WSOP. CheapSeatsPoker.com has only micro limit games maxing out at $.25/$.50. Their tournaments range from buy ins as low as $.05 and top off at $5. The most intriguing of all the skins would be PPNLiveDealers.com. As the name would imply, the site will be using live dealers including celebrities to deal the cards while playing. The site is scheduled to go live in the summer of 2012.
The PPN network has actually been around for a few years. They originally launched in 2010 under the Cake network. They closed up in August of this year to sort out their software. They now operate as a standalone network. It will be nice to see other networks thumbing their noses at America and start to offer games.