Things I Wished Online Poker Sites Had

I consider this to be free advice for all of the online poker rooms out there. Maybe I know what I’m talking about, maybe I don’t. But these are some of the features I would add if I was the CEO of a poker room.

  1. I would make a tool called something like “Macros” that would allow me to perform automated functions.  For instance, let’s say I load up PokerStars and I want play a session of 9-handed 1/2 NL and I want to 8 table.  Why should I have to look for tables?  There should be an option in the menu to take me to 8 tables of 9-handed 1/2 with a minimum of 7 players already seated and buy me in for $200 at each table.  Imagine how much easier it would be to start a session…
  2. I know the poker sites don’t want to encourage “ending” a session, but… this would be great for users.  Let’s say you want to end a session.  There should be a way to “intelligently” end a session automatically.  By that I mean, if you’re on 8 tables, you can click “end my session” somewhere and it would automatically uncheck “auto post blind” on every table and it would automatically sit you out as soon as the blind is about to hit.  That way you don’t get the “Post BB” or “Sit Out” option, which only serves to slow down the table.
  3. Segregated cash.  This one is a little more complicated, but let’s say I wanted to send someone $500 to play $20/180man tournaments, but I didn’t want any possibility of them tilting the $ off and I also wanted an easy way to keep track of their progress.  So if there was a feature called “Send Stake” or something where I could limit the play of this specific $ to those tournaments AND I could see the progress.  So I could see the list of tournaments they’ve played along with their results and the current balance of the stake.  I’m sure the poker sites know this, but staking is a huge rake generator in the online MTT scene and this sort of cool feature would be really sick.  I could see staking in SNGs and MTTs increase dramatically as a result of this sort of feature.
  4. Integrated custom leaderboards.  This one is really obvious, but a cool integrated competition leaderboard that is auto-tracked would be awesome.  I don’t even think I need to explain this one any more because this is a super-obv idea that really should have happened by now.
  5. Game Suggestions.  This is something that a company like Google would have done years ago if they had a poker site.  But… if you ALWAYS play the same games (say, 9 handed $15 turbo SNGs), then there should be a tab called “Suggestions” that figures out what you’ve played recently and shows you registering games that meet your typical game type.  I know the algorithm to figure something like this out isn’t easy, but if a high stakes MTTer had a Suggestions tab available, they wouldn’t even need to look around for games, they could just leave that tab open and be assured that they wouldn’t miss another tourney.  I know that on PokerStars they can just leave the “Tourney -> Regular -> High” tab open, but what if they also like 75/150 LO8 along with SNGs from $200 to $1000?  So they have to remember to click around when all they really care about is games with open seats?  Seems silly.
  6. RSA security chip option, or something similar.  Online players have been clamoring for the option to have a three factor authentication system for a long time.  I don’t understand why poker sites wouldn’t set something up that would make players feel more secure.  I know that PokerStars has played around with a “Secure ID” system, but it’s a joke from what I saw.  It’s just like a second password, not like an RSA chip which changes every 30 seconds or whatever.  I understand that sites would want to charge a little for this option — that won’t be a problem for anyone with enough money to care about their account security.
  7. Email notifications and RSS feeds.  Wouldn’t it be great if you could set an option to get an email anytime there was a certain game running or something is happening?  This doesn’t apply as much to PokerStars or Full Tilt, but let’s say you could get an email anytime there is an overlay in a tournament with only 5 minutes left to go before tourney start.  That would help cut out some overlays for the sites that have them.  But on something like Stars, let’s say you want to play 75/150 LO8, but it just doesn’t run often.  This information could be delivered to you in an email or feed.  This idea could also just be extended to things like notifications for tournaments you’ve won a seat in and you’re registered in.  For instance, an email notification that goes out if you’re registered in a tournament and you’re not logged into the client as of 5 minutes before start-time.  If you’re like me and you sit by your gmail all day and you have your gmail tied to your iPhone, this could be a cool feature.

I guess that’s it for now.  I have more ideas too, but no reason to give everything up all at once.  What do you want to see happen?

PS – Send this to your favorite poker room manager or post about it on your blog, we might be able to get some of this implemented if enough people express interest in some of the ideas.

12 thoughts on “Things I Wished Online Poker Sites Had

  1. Tom

    Hey Nat,

    I often read your blog and it is a pleasant read. I don’t think you know who I am, but I think we know some mutual friends (Empire2000) and I just started talking to Mikeymer who i think has gone down to Costa Rica to see you there? Not 100% sure about that.
    This latest post of yours is quite interesting, and i think that if you were in a position to work with online poker websites these ideas would show them how creative you are in thinking about the business aspect of it and you could sell them your services.

    Personally I feel when I have these thoughts on things I wouldn’t write it for everyone to see, but that is just me and my personal preference. But then again if you aren’t in a position to benefit from your own ideas then there is no harm in mentioning them for the world to read b/c you can’t do anything about it yourself to benefit from it.

    I’d respond to each suggestion, but I’m going out right now swimming.

    If you’d like to chat about these ideas about poker and things in general I’d love to chat.

    Keep writing the blog it is a fun read.

    Best Wishes
    Tom

  2. Nat Post author

    Hey Tom,

    Thanks for the nice words… I know I could hold out and never say ideas that could be massively profitable, but I guess I’d rather have the ideas implemented than hold onto them forever. Like I said, I have a lot more ideas, most of which revolve around making it easier and more fun to play online poker. I definitely didn’t give away everything in this post. Hopefully some big poker sites will notice this and they’ll implement some of the ideas.

    -Nat

    PS – Unfortunately I couldn’t meet up with Mike when he flew in, but I might be able to on his way out. And yes, I know Roman going way back…

    PPS – If an online poker site wanted to hire me as a consultant, they know where to find me.

  3. Tom

    Yeah, sounds like u got things figured pretty well. I mainly said the stuff I did b/c I love inventing and innovation and I know all too well how frustrating it is to have great ideas and no way of implementing it b/c i am not in that position in that field, or have the finances etc. I’m hoping to obtain patents for some of my ideas in the next few years, but we’ll see where things go there is always a stumbling block. I really love the whole process of seeing something and being like “ok, how can this item function better.” I think about many things in this manner, but never have really with online poker websites mainly b/c I knew there was no way I was going to open up my own poker website b/c the money involved to start is way into the millions so things like you wrote haven’t crossed my mind even though I’ve played for years.
    You’d be surprised how unoriginal some people are who are in so called powerful positions in companies and how little they know about their customers. I’m not saying Pokerstars/ Fulltilt and company don’t have good ideas for the future, but I do feel that for one company to dominate in a google sort of manner they need to innovate the industry to swamp the competition, and right at this moment I don’t think any of the companies have come up with that.
    When FullTilt came out I thought this was a great idea with the red pros and play with the pros slogan from a business standpoint, and that they could succeed b/c of the pros behind them even though they were relatively late entering the market. The investors put so much money behind the project, and it has paid off for them I think, but I’m not sure what will happen in the future with the big two.
    I’m really intrigued to see who and if there will be a google of online poker, and I think currently no one to me is showing the type of innovation needed to destroy the competition. I think an online poker site has to make themselves head and shoulders better than the competition and when people discuss the sites I don’t think any site dominates at all in the overall experience. Any thoughts?

    Alright, I’m done now…

    Tom

  4. Nat Post author

    Yea I don’t think there’s anyone being really innovative. PokerStars adds features, but they do it pretty slowly and it’s rarely anything that I would consider “ground breaking” or whatever. It’s mainly things that people have asked for over the last few years (ie, auto rebuy). Full Tilt isn’t really very good at adding features IMO, but the rest of the industry, for the most part, has god-awful software that is kind of embarrassing to even use/look at (not every other site, just most of them).

    I do think there’s room for an innovating site, but the problem is, it’s definitely key to have tons of liquidity and traffic. Any random site won’t get traffic no matter how good their software is if they don’t have the players. But if a site like CakePoker or the MergeNetwork wanted to take the next step in terms of capturing US players, they should get some very serious product development people in place and they should probably completely re-write their software to make it on a level that can compare with PokerStars.

  5. tedtodd

    Awesome ideas. There are so many features that sites should offer. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I especially like your ideas about security for highstakes. That justs seems so obvious, yet they haven’t implemented it. I imagine that any poker site could greatly increase highstakes play by offering something like this.

    Great post.

  6. Jeff

    “poker site could greatly increase highstakes play by offering something like this.”

    The RSA security chip would also be well received by high stakes players. Those chips are cheap and a package in the mail along with an explanation of “we value your security and want to take extra steps in making sure your bankroll is protected” would (I think) go a long ways. Very good ideas here Nat.

  7. sprstoner

    def great ideas, most important is security imo.

    stars did tell me they have a secure token option coming out soon, im not sure if it was true or how long soon is. but we need something better.

    i would also really love to see synchronized breaks by both sites for us MTTers. i cant see the down side beside the work it would take to get it started.

  8. Isaac

    Here comes another great feature: Standarize blinds.
    Example: I play NL $400 and NL $600, but i want all the games to look like NL 100, so that the big blind is always 1 (or whatever i choose). With tables at different stakes I lose fractions of second everytime i switch tables, especially in the preflop raise, or in the pot size postflop. Also I tend to loosen up in lower buyin games, and standarizing would help me a lot.
    What do you think?

  9. PFX

    Great suggestions.

    I think the largest sites should create a section of cash game tables that have sign-up lists in 5 or 6 table increments, so that once 45 or 54 people have signed up for say 1/2 NL, then those players are randomly distributed to 5 or 6 new tables the way they would be in an MTT. Then as players leave and spots open, the wait list applies to all tables in that group, again with random seating placement.

    I think these tables would be attractive to a certain segment of the poker population. The random seating would downplay the impact of data-mining programs and make collusion more difficult as players couldn’t choose to sit with specific others. It would also encourage the opening of new instantly full tables instead of having 3-5 players waiting on each already full table because they don’t like to play shorthanded while they wait for traditional style new tables to fill.

  10. Nat Post author

    That’s a great idea — I’d actually never thought of that last one. Thanks!

    Re: standardizing blinds. That’s a good idea also. I used to have a script that did that for me on Party, but I don’t think any site has officially implemented it.

  11. lilmishap

    I know there are tracker programs available but as a noob and a technophobe these are not to be tried!. I would like the poker rooms to have a simple ‘track improvements in your game over time thing’ (yes i believe that was the technical name!) not just tournament results.

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