On Thursday, PokerStars announced the official launch ofPokerStars 7, the new version of its poker client that it believes "represents the next evolutionary step for the world’s biggest online poker site."
The software, which is now available in beta version on its dot-com, dot-eu and dot-es clients, represents a major update of the current PokerStars 6 and can be tried on Windows PCs by clicking on a new "Try PokerStars 7" button located on the menu bar at the top of the current lobby. A Mac version is set for release later in the year.
On a conference call held on Thursday, Stefan Markov, Senior Manager of PokerStars' Product Management team, outlined the plans for the release of PokerStars' new client.
According to Markov, the release process is now set to pass through several different steps and reach its completion somewhere around the end of 2014.
"Right now we are in a phase when everybody plays on PokerStars 6, but they can opt-in to PokerStars 7," Markov said. "This is already happening for several of our licenses as the Spanish one, the dot-com one and the dot-eu one."
Markov added that the plan is to roll the new version out for other licenses as well, bringing the room's long awaited poker client to regulated markets like Italy and France.
"This is what we call the Beta phase, where people are still on PokerStars 6, but they can choose to opt-in to PokerStars 7 and eventually go back to PokerStars 6 if they want to."
Then, once the first step of the process is completed, it will be time for phase two, when PokerStars 7 will become the new room's default client for everyone.
"This is going to happen at a different time for different licenses,” Markov said. “Most likely we will start around the end of August or beginning of September, and we plan to complete the process by October."
During phase two, all players will be offered to use PokerStars 7 but will still have the possibility to switch to the old client and run their games through the familiar interface.
The deadlines of the last phase, however, are much less strict as the adoption rate of PokerStars 7 and the feedback from the users will determine when the sixth version of the room's client will be sent to the history books.PokerStars 7: What's New?
"Over the last few years, we have invested countless hours to research, design and develop this new iteration of our flagship software," said PokerStars Head of Poker Communications Lee Jones.
"We believe this release is friendlier for new players and more intuitive and powerful for our veterans."
PokerStars' new desktop software comes with clean graphics and a series of interesting new features that the room has developed over the years, following the suggestions that came from its users.
"We have a lot of cool features that we have added in," Jones said while introducing the new client's lobby. Jones described the new version as a clean screen where players seeking for their poker games will be able to navigate the room's offer using a variety of filters.
Lovers of the PokerStars 6 tabbed menu, however, will still be able to navigate the lobby the way they like because, as Jones pointed out, "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."
"We have also changed the favorites," Jones explained, "and that's something a lot of players have been asking for," he added. Jones explained how PokerStars players will now be able to "bookmark" their favorite games with a click and get quick access to them through a special favorites section right in the lobby.
Modifications of the software included also a cleaner tournament lobby, the possibility not only to detach but also to fully hide the chatbox from the tables, and to use the so-called "chip graph,” a handy feature that tracks a player's progress through a tournament and shows it in relation with other useful data as the 'average chip stack' and 'largest chip stack' graphs throughout the tournament.
Among the most interesting new features that PokerStars added to its client, there is also a brand new section entirely dedicated to live poker events, where everyone will get the chance to discover what goes on around the world and get a much simpler access to online qualifiers.
"This is a big change," Jones stated, explaining that once in the new section, players will see all the PokerStars sponsored live events happening around the world displayed on an easy to navigate map.
"We think this is by far the most intuitive way for people to see this information," Jones continued, adding how each and every event included in the map includes useful information about the tournaments as well as about all the online satellites available on the platform.
"We believe this release is friendlier for new players and more intuitive and powerful for our veterans," Jones said. "So now we’re inviting our players to test the beta version of the software and help us ensure that it meets the high standards that everyone expects of PokerStars.”
To learn more about the PokerStars 7 client you can either check the video below, or see it for yourself by heading to PokerStars and opting-in for the new software.
Below are the Top 30 starting hands in Pot-Limit Omaha.1AA-KKdouble-suited
An all important step in the sale of PokerStars to Amaya Gaming was completed on Monday when Amaya announced it has “received all required approvals from the gaming regulatory authorities that currently license Rational Group Ltd.” according to a press release issued by the company.
Amaya also announced they have received “conditional approval” to issue the common shares (stock) associated with the purchase to help finance the purchase of PokerStars.
These announcement come as no surprise, and are just two of several formalities that needs to be completed before the sale can become official. Of course there is also the not so small matter of finishing the $4.9 billion transaction.
Amaya addressed the remaining hurdles in the press release, stating:
“Completion of the Transaction remains subject to, among other customary conditions, the approval of certain aspects of the planned financing for the Proposed Transaction by Amaya’s shareholders, which are scheduled to consider the matter at the annual and special meeting of the Corporation’s shareholders (the “Shareholder Meeting”) on July 30, 2014. Assuming a favourable outcome at the Shareholder’s Meeting, Amaya and Oldford Group Ltd., the parent company of Rational Group, intend to move expeditiously towards completion of the Transaction.”
In the meantime, Amaya Gaming stock has been climbing, and while some are pointing to Monday’s announcement as a reason why, Chris Grove thinks something else might be behind the uptick in stock price. In his daily E-Mail Newsletter “OPR Quick Takes” [sign up for OPR Quick Takes here] Grove speculated that the stock increase could be a harbinger for PokerStars licensure in New Jersey.
“… given that the approvals were considered something of a formality. Is NJ approval somehow not baked into the price as well?”
Talk of a New Jersey license began immediately after the sale was announced, and Amaya and the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement have already begun talks regarding PokerStars suspended license application in the state.
PokerStars saw their license application suspended by the NJ DGE back in December of 2013, with the regulatory body citing concerns over key individuals still in place at the company. But with the sale to Amaya those individuals will no longer be in the picture and many feel PokerStars will be approved by the DGE soon after the finalization of the sale.
On a recent episode of Rich Muny’s Poker Advocacy Podcast, investigative poker journalistDiamond Flush felt it would be a matter of weeks from the finalization of the sale to PokerStars launching in New Jersey, as her sources in the state have stated that the application process for PokerStars was already about 85% completed when it was suspended in December.