PokerStars has made it official – No more bum-hunting!
“Did you just say ‘bum-hunting’? That sounds gross…”
Yes, I did say bum-hunting, and no I’m not talking about dirty old men praying on the tight tooshies of young athletic 20-something ladies… or the other way around, for that matter.
Over the last many years, there has become an all too common practice at online poker sites known as ‘bum-hunting’. It is essentially an unethical and extremely annoying practice wherein advanced poker players sit at moderately priced tables in an effort to prey upon less experienced players who may stumble upon that table looking for a cash game.
Okay, so far it all sounds pretty regulation. There’s nothing wrong with waiting for an opponent at an empty table, right? For the most part, yes, but it’s the way these players do it. Let’s say a card shark takes a seat at an empty NL50 table. This is the type of player who would normally play NL 200 or 400, but he’s chosen a lower price because he knows he can get better action if the right unsuspecting victim takes a seat. Then another equally skilled player sits down to compete with him.
Instead of posting blinds and getting the cards moving, the lurker refuses to play with the new opponent and continues to sit-out. The new player is left wondering what’s up, trying to get some action going, but it’s never going to happen because the new guy isn’t what the lurker wants. He wants a novitiate that he can easily pilfer chips from. Thus the new guy is forced to leave and find another table, or sit and wait for yet another player to come along.
For the average player who just wants a good game, this gets incredibly annoying. I’ve scoured plenty of cash game tables at PokerStars, among other online poker rooms, and there always seems to be an excessive number of tables open with a single person lying in wait. Many of these are bum-hunters. But the only way to find out is to take a seat and see if they are willing to play or not.
Thanks to several years’ worth of complaints from players of all skill levels, PokerStars has finally enacted a solution to the problem. The online poker site barred bum-hunting in 2011, but all players could do was report other players who were doing it and hope something was done about it.
According to Steve Day of PokerStars, who posted on TwoPlusTwo under his moniker “PokerStars Steve”:
“We are able to configure the number of non-dealing tables of each table type. If action stops at a table, creating an additional non-dealing table of that type, we are able to configure an amount of time prior to one of the tables being closed.
“This is currently deployed at high stakes PLO and high and mid stakes NLHE and FLHE. We are limiting to 1 table of each type and closing 30 seconds after dealing stops.
“In the future we will reliably be closing the table that recently stopped dealing, but right now the table that has existed for the longest will be closed.
“We also plan to disable the ability for players to sit out at tables that are not dealing. Players sitting out when a table stops dealing will be removed from the table.”
This rule does not apply to heads-up tables, since the only way to get a heads-up game going is to sit and wait for an opponent, but all other cash game tables will be affected.
The reaction on the twoplustwo forums has been one of sheer gratitude from members of PokerStars. Even our dear friend, Tom “durrrr” Dwan, commented on the new rule via Twitter:
“@TomDwan seems like stars is taking some steps to improve the bumhunting situation. pretty happy about this; should be good for poker overall”
Not only will this new enforcement help to thwart less experienced online poker players from being preyed upon by sharks, it will alleviate the wait time of players who are genuinely looking for table action. Without so many tables being available all at once, players will easily find activity on the games, stakes and limits they are looking for.