PokerStars players can now display their stack sizes in relation to the amount of big blinds they have, as well as how many chips they have.

This means that instead of showing actual stack sizes, you can instead display all stacks at the table in how many big blinds each stack contains. For example, if blinds are 600/1,200 and you have 18,240 in your stack, you can display it as 15.2 big blinds.

The feature is opt-in, and players can toggle between the two settings in-game.

Chris Straghalis, Director of Poker Product at PokerStars, sat down with us to explain why this new feature is being introduced, and why it can help players approach the game on a more theoretical, strategic level.

EVOLUTION

“Poker evolves over time. When we look at where poker was before the online days, it’s fair to say that now there’s a lot more study, analytics, and thinking about concepts of the game than ever before,” Straghalis says. “The overall meta-game of poker is looked at very differently today.

“Poker is a game of incomplete information, and that’s what makes it an amazingly beautiful game. It’s that incomplete information which keeps us coming back for more. It’s what separates poker from chess.”

Are there better ways at looking at the information which is presented though?

“It’s something PokerStars did a lot of in the early days,” Straghalis—who has worked at PokerStars for 15 years—reminisces. “If you look at the settings menu today, there will be settings that might make you question why they exist in 2019. But they were things players asked for back then.”

In 2019, a lot of players are asking to see their stacks in big blinds.

“The information in knowing your stack compared with what the current blind levels are is of such critical importance that forcing people to make a mental calculation seems somewhat redundant when we can make the calculation for them, dynamically and on the fly.

“There is third-party software which lets people do this, so there’s clearly a demand and a need for it. It makes sense that you could take it to the next step, and instead of just showing the stacks in terms of big blinds, we can show every bet you make in big blinds too. So, if the blinds are 500/1,000, instead of opening to 2,100, you would open to 2.1 big blinds.”

EDUCATION

While stack sizes in big blinds can be hugely valuable to tournament players at different stages of a tournament, the feature is also being implemented in cash games, in which players are predominantly deeper stacked.

Straghalis continues: “If you look at educational poker content, a lot of it talks in terms of how many blinds you have, how big the pot is in big blinds, how important blind to pot ratios are etc. If you think of your stack in terms of big blinds, it causes you to approach the game very differently, and we can align our software with how people approach poker.

“We’re not telling people how to play, it’s more about giving people information visualised in different ways and putting you in the driver’s seat. We want to give people choices on how they play the game, and help new players adapt to poker quicker.”

By clicking on your chip stack you can toggle between seeing the number of chips you have and the number of big blinds

You can also turn the BB option on and off by clicking on your balance

To turn the feature on, players must opt-in in via the Table Display section in the PokerStars client settings. From then on, you will be able to toggle back and forth between showing stacks in big blinds and stacks in chips.

For tournament players, this ability could become particularly useful in the deep stages, and when approaching a bubble. Let’s say you’re 15th of 20 players remaining and 19 get paid, knowing just how close you are to the players in 19th and 20th in exact chips rather than big blinds could impact how you play.

“We made the feature opt-in because we know there will be some players who will hate it,” Straghalis admits. “Poker is a very polarising game. So if you never want to see stacks in big blinds, you won’t.

“A good example would be streamers. I think it’s really hard for an audience to watch stacks in big blinds on a stream, because some people aren’t used to seeing poker that way. If you turn on Lex Veldhuis’ stream and he’s playing six tables at once, it’s going to be hard to know which stage of the tournament he’s in if his stack is shown in big blinds, whereas if it shows he has 500,000 in chips, you know he’s making a deep run.”

KEY TAKEAWAYS: 

  • You can display your stack in big blinds rather than chips
  • The feature is opt-in
  • To turn it on, you must opt-in in the Setting menu of the PokerStars client
  • Players can toggle back and forth between big blinds and chips
  • The feature is available in both tournaments and cash games

 

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