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Are On Demand Tournaments A Game-changer?

The US-friendly Winning Poker Network is set to roll out a new update that could change the way players register for online poker tournaments as we know it. The new format, dubbed “On Demand” tournaments, begin when a specific number of players registers (much like a Sit & Go tournament) but will also feature a late-registration period allowing more players to enter (like a multi-table tournament). The question is: Will this be just another little-used format, or will “On Demand” tournaments be a real game-changer for online poker?

On Demand-style tournaments are already available at Full Tilt Poker, where they have received some pretty positive feedback so far, and along with the Winning Poker Network, the iPoker Network also has plans to add the structure to their tournament lobby.

In a press release issued this week, Americas Cardroom spokesperson Michael Harris stated:

On Demand Tournaments are designed for every player who wants to experience the heated competition of a large-scale multi-table tournament without having to wait for a scheduled start time. We know they’re going to be hugely popular.”

Black Chip Poker spokesman Robert Gray had this to say about “On Demand” tournaments:

We’re constantly striving to improve the performance of the poker client to make the best playing experience possible. This latest release adds another tournament option along with features that will make multi-tabling and multi-tasking easier for our players.”

The Winning Poker Network is comprised of a number of US-friendly online poker rooms, with the flagship sites on the network being Americas Cardroom and Black Chip Poker. “On Demand” tournaments will be part of a larger software overhaul that will also include the addition of preferred seating and a highlighting option in the lobby that allows players to identify tournaments thy are registered for.

A New Era or Just Another Structure to Choose From

It’s hard to innovate. It’s even harder to innovate when the product you are looking to alter is as long-lived and simplistic (from a game-play point of view) as poker is. Even with the rise of Internet poker, where the game is no longer constrained by physical space or location boundaries there has been very little in the way of real innovation in poker.

Sure, there have been structural changes, such as late registrations, multi-entries, turbos, and so on, but the only thing that really comes to mind when I think “game-changer” is Full Tilt Poker’s Rush Poker. To me, “On Demand” tournaments fall somewhere in the middle: While on its surface it’s merely a structural change, “On Demand” tournaments are altogether different from what we are used to seeing.

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