The idea of catering to recreational players is nothing new in the online poker world. Bodog started this trend last year when they unveiled their “Recreational Player Model,” which prevents grinders from using data mining software on opponents. Months later, the Everleaf Gaming network took things a step further by preventing players who made over €750 a week from facing losing players.
As if this wasn’t going far enough, it was recently discovered that Party Poker have been segregating their players based on win rate – without officially telling anybody. So winning players have been unable to see losing players in the lobby, meaning they can only play against other regs and winners.
This latest move has really set the online poker community off with many pros voicing their complaints. A big thread recently opened up at TwoPlusTwo where various members have argued both sides of player segregation.
Two of the main arguments against player segregation are that it specifically targets winning players and seeks to create a break-even environment. The latter is key because players who compete against those with similar win rates will generally trade money back and forth while paying lots of rake in the process. The end result is that online poker sites are the only true winners from this scenario.
The big arguments for segregating grinders are that more recreational players will be encouraged to stick around after depositing, and bumhunters won’t be able to target weaker opponents all of the time.
As you can see, there are good points both for and against player segregation. But in my opinion, there may be no real winner after segregation has taken its course. Going further, it seems as if Party Poker and Everleaf are merely grasping at straws as online poker slowly loses more players each month.
It’s hard to say what the solution to a declining worldwide online poker player pool is – short of another Chris Moneymaker-type or federal legalization in the United States. So for the time being, it looks like we’ll have to let online poker segregation run its course and see what happens.