Showtime Hold’em: New Hold’em Variation at PokerStars

Showtime Hold'em
Showtime Hold’em: The latest innovation to hit the felt at PokerStars, introducing a new variation of the game, where players’ cards are exposed once they decide to fold.

Online poker giant PokerStars seems determined to come up with a new variation of the most popular poker game out there, Texas Hold’em. Only a few weeks ago, the room introduced Split Hold’em as an experiment. Now, Split Hold’em is gone and instead, we have Showtime Hold’em.

Showtime Hold’em in a Nutshell

The general trend with these inventions seems to be sticking with the general rules of Hold’em we all know and love, with some tweaks to make the game more exciting and potentially reignite the flame for it.

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Showtime Hold’em follows the same pattern. It is, essentially, good, old Texas Hold’em with one essential difference. Once a player folds his or her hand, their cards are exposed for everyone to see. So, those still involved with the action receive additional information that can potentially help them make their decisions.

More Information = More Emphasis on Skill?

With the earlier version, most people argued that it was a ploy to generate more rake for PokerStars while not doing much for the game. Split Hold’em featured two simultaneous board runouts (flop, turn, and river) awarding a half of the pot to the winner of each runout.

These concerns certainly had a good reasoning behind them although the game variation did introduce some interesting considerations. However, to properly play the game, players would probably have to come up with a new set of starting hands.

Showtime Hold'em
Folded cards remain visible throughout the hand, which can greatly help with the decision making process in certain situations.

When it comes to Showtime Hold’em, no such adjustments are necessary. It is the same game in every way but players are given those extra bits of information along the way. As such, it is a variation more focused on skill and knowledge as the information is available to everyone but not everyone is able to use it to the same degree.

Knowledge IS Power

This is actually the slogan of the new Hold’em variation and it is easy to see how good players will be able to turn this extra information to their advantage. For example, if you’re on a straight draw and you see one of your outs folded, you can quickly apply the math to figure out your odds and equity in the hand.

If one player folds a flush draw along the way and the second opponent continues even after you bet big, they’re less likely to be on the same draw (if you perceive them as a good player). With fewer outs, they should be folding easily.

Of course, these are just a few examples. Those folded cards being turned face up will certainly add to the skill element of the game as it will provide insightful players with the information about their opponents’ tendencies as well (how far they’re willing to chase, what kind of bets can force them off their draws, etc.).

Will it catch on?

I like the idea of Showtime Hold’em and the fact a good player can now turn their knowledge into more winnings. The issue, however, is in the fact that good players are already pretty much dominating PokerStars tables, especially at all reasonable levels.

Showtime Hold'em
It seems that games at higher levels aren’t particularly active, so you’ll find most action at lower stakes

So, while the game focuses on skill over luck, I’m not sure it will be particularly appealing to recreational players, at least not much more than regular Hold’em. In fact, due to good players being able to make better decisions, they’ll likely lose quicker.

If we are to have some kind of Hold’em of the future, it needs to be something that excites the recreational players and brings them to tables. I don’t see Showtime Hold’em doing that although it is definitely a game in which your poker knowledge becomes even more important.

What do you think about Showtime Hold’em? Have you had a chance to play it? Do you like it? Do you think this game variation will take off or will it be another decomissioned experiment by Stars.

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