For some time now, a quiet war has been raging between two sets of serious poker players. Thousands of forum posts have been dedicated to the subject, containing everything from systematic analysis to vitriolic rants. The divide is between those players who like to buy into online cash games for the standard amount of chips and those who like to enter with only the minimum. The regular players, who make up the majority, have been complaining that these shortstackers ruin the action and make it very difficult to play a strategic poker game.
After liaising with the poker community and conducting internal analysis, Full Tilt Poker has come down firmly on the side of the standard players. Buy-in limits have been altered for almost all their ring game tables, making it impossible for shortstack players to get involved in the ordinary games. The most popular tables for games at all limits are the regular ring games. Formerly, the minimum buy-in was 20 big blinds (BB), an amount favored by the shortstacking collective. That limit has now been raised to 35BB, with the maximum buy-in set at 100BB. As a result of this adjustment, the Deep Stack cash games have also seen an alteration. The minimum buy-in on these tables is now 75BB, increased from 50BB, with the maximum at 200BB.
Some agitated posters on online forums argue that there will be a mass exodus of shortstack players, but these users still have a place on Full Tilt. New Shallow tables have been introduced, specifically designed to cater to players who like to buy in with few chips. The minimum buy-in is the same as the former minimum on regular tables, 20BB. The maximum also very low, at 40BB, meaning that everyone at the table will be considered short by conventional standards. This move forces all the shortstack players to play together and removes them from the regular games.
The move has been welcomed by most users, many of whom had been campaigning long and hard to ban the shortstackers from their games. Full Tilt is one of the first sites to implement such harsh restrictions on short stack play and it still remains to be see how this will impact player traffic across the different types of tables. Posters on forums like 2+2 have revealed a wide range of opinions, with some for and some against the changes. While many are very happy with the decision, some dissidents argue that there’s more action and money to be won on the shallow tables. This fact will prompt many of the grinders to move away from the regular and deepstack areas. Others have expressed general concern about having to adapt their play to a game with no short stacks and a section of the shortstacking community say that they will simple give up on ring games completely and move to Sit & Gos.
An interesting debate has also broken out about whether or not shortstack players are good or bad. Experienced players posting on 2+2 have railed against the new limits, arguing that shortstack play is an inherently bad strategy and that it makes no sense to force out poor players. Plenty have countered these claims, either contesting the idea that shortstackers are losing players or pointing out that the users who feed the games at mid to high stakes are rarely buying in for the minimum. There has also been concern that many of these shortstack players will simply migrate PokerStars, where buying-in for low amounts is still possible. However, posts by staffer PS SteveD seem to indicate that PokerStars may be considering placing similar limitations on short stack players.
A day or two since the change, the makeup of Full Tilt Poker’s ring games seems largely unaffected. The regular tables are still far and away the most popular, with a similar number of shallow and deepstack tables running. Full Tilt Poker IS a massive network, with players from all across the world. Although the online forum posters and serious grinders might make a lot of noise, there are thousands upon thousands of casual players on whom these changes will have little to no impact. The adjusted limits will certainly lead to an interesting change in dynamic for serious players to consider, but the vast majority of Full Tilt’s clientele will remain unaffected.