When I first heard about the new home game feature at Poker Stars I was thinking of something totally different than what I saw. I think the new feature will lure in some offline smaller stakes players but it got me thinking about some items that would probably draw more people from the Friday night kitchen table quarter ante games.
My old home games back in Atlanta that I played in for about 15 years involved perversions of Omaha8. We must have come up with 30 or more variations. When I picture a home poker game most people play in I picture a smoky kitchen with an old, rickety poker table with a bunch of people trying to take each others $20 at games like Criss Cross, Guts, Follow the Queen and Five Card Draw Deuces Wild. Maybe this is because I am a bit older than most people in the online poker industry. Maybe nowadays people really do only play Texas Hold’em and a few other games but there must be people like me out there.
I’ve always wondered why poker rooms never tried to expand their offering to games people that first learned to play at home would know. Action Poker had a popular Guts game but when they stopped taking U.S. players it fizzled. Outside of that I can’t think of any other online poker room with typical home games. I think players would think it is fun to play these type of games and it would probably help with some of the datamining and player tracking issues. Do you really think Poker Tracker is going to come up with a software to track No Peak Baseball? It might also bring back some players burned out on playing the same old games.
Most home games have some sort of addition to mainstream games to make them fun and different. Some play Texas Hold’em High/Low 8 or better, some play Five Card Draw Jacks or Better Trips to Win, some play Omaha High/Low with an exchange or a fifth hole card and some create dozens of variations to keep the game fun and innovating. I think this is where so many online poker rooms fail. They try to improve on their existing offers without being innovative with new offerings.
I have a feeling that if a poker room with the type of traffic Poker Stars or Full Tilt Poker has came up with popular home games that it could be a new way to bring in players. This would seem especially true for players that grew up playing those games. I know coming up with the software for new games isn’t easy but I think some innovation and investment could bring in a new type of player, one that may never find their way to online poker otherwise.