The Pokerstars 7 client is now officially available in Beta, and it offers a radical new look for online poker’s biggest card room. The good news is that the smooth, natural gameplay feel of the underlying poker software has remained the best in the business. The bad news, if there is any, is that the new client looks quite a bit different from what players have come to expect.
The new look is obvious from the moment you open the client. While the initial network status start screen remains the same, everything else about your Pokerstars lobby experience has changed in the new client. Recognizing that this is a big change, one of the features of the new client is to return to the look and feel of Pokerstars 6, the client that most users know and love. As Lee Jones, Pokerstars Head of Communications, told Pokernews, “we have added a feature to allow players to switch over ‘tabs mode’ from ‘filters mode’ and make the client to look much more like PokerStars 6.”
Initially, the basic layout of the new lobby section looks somewhat similar. The main pane shows a list of games available based on the high-level tab filters: “Cash Games,” “Zoom,” “Sit & Go,” “Tournaments,” “Online Events,” and “Live Events.” The right side of that pane still shows information on the specific tournament currently selected, but the format is now much cleaner and easier to read. The bottom of the client has a section for Pokerstars information and advertising, and access to the Cashier, as well as account information and timezone settings, are available in the top right of the client. The top left shows a handy easy-access menu that allows access to a “Quick Seat” option for cash games, as well as options for “Favorites” which will be discussed later on. Finally, the far right of the client gives access to various settings functions for customizing your table appearance and game play experience.
Once users get used to the new look of the client, however, it seems unlikely many will want to stick with the old ‘tabbed’ approach. The new ‘filter’ approach lets you use advanced filters at the top of the lobby to select what sort of games you want to display. Initially, when you start the new client, the filters show as drop-down menus at the top of the listing pane. A small arrow button under the menus allows you to expand those menus into lists.
By selecting various options on these menus, the games/tables displayed to you in the games pane changes. Initially, it can be tricky to find specific games, as some kinds of games only appear with certain combinations of filters. As an example, if you play PokerSchoolOnline Premier League games, you can find them listed by selecting a Buy-In of Freeroll and a Type of Private, assuming the Game and Speed filters also match. However, if you also have Satellite and Regular filters checked, that game no longer shows in the list.
Once players find their favourite games, a new feature called “Favorites,” accessed from the menu on the top left of the client, provides a way to find them again much more quickly. Both the tournament lobbies and game tables (cash, S&G, and tournament) have a star button in the top left corner which lets players identify this particular tournament, sit & go, or cash game level as a “Favorite” that will appear on a handy list when the menu item is clicked in the main lobby.
Once players find the games they are looking for, and get used to the new look, there are several modifications that make gameplay more enjoyable, giving you better access to information. One interesting new feature is the chip graph, located on a tab on the new tournament lobby. This graph shows the growth of the player’s stack over time through the tournament, as compared to chip average, and any other stack.
The new Mercury table theme also provides new and easier access to your instant hand history. An extra tab labelled “Hands” on the chat window of an open tournament table shows a list of recently played hands with buttons to see them in the Pokerstars replayer, the traditional text “Instant Hand History,” Boom, or various social media options. This feature provides a much quicker and easier way to access recent hands.
Options to customize the playing experience have moved from the old-style menus in Pokerstars 6 to a system of tabs on the right-hand side of the main lobby in the new Beta client. Among these tabs you will find access to Settings like Lobby and Table Appearance, Gameplay, and Layout, among others. As well, Tools lets a player access History and Stats, Leaderboards, Find a Player, and other familiar options from the old Tools menu. The right-hand tab bar is also where you’ll find access to PokerSchoolOnline functions, as well your Home Games.
Overall, the new client is a significant improvement. While initially players may find the new lobby layout confusing, once you get used to the new style it truly is an easier way to find the games you want to play. With the gameplay as crisp as ever, the new additions like the chip graph show a real attention to improving the player experience while building on the things which already make Pokerstars the most popular online card room in the world. With Pokerstars 7, the best just gets better.
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