No official response from Party yet, but a number of players are reporting evidence that Party Poker is segregating their cash game lobby based on player win rate.
I first saw word of this on TwoPlusTwo. Excerpt:
After recent update players started complaining there is less traffic and no recreational players. Regulars started analyzing what they see in the lobby and came to the conclusion that players with different winrate (losers/breakeven/crushers) see different tables in the lobby.
There’s no firm sense of the mechanics involved in the alleged segregation.
The following video purports to show a player logging in to Party with two different accounts using Virtual Machine. According to the video, the cash game lobby displayed for each account is unique:
There are additional screen captures and similar bits of proof in the official Party Poker thread at TwoPlusTwo.
I contacted Party support via chat and was told there is no such policy. People I know who are affiliated with Party are confirming the policy in general terms.
But the Party thread on TwoPlusTwo contains a response from the official Party rep that appears to confirm the policy. Or something:
We are continually looking for ways to balance our poker room ecology. As we have said before, we are testing various features to make poker a more fun and entertaining game for both new and inexperienced players. Our extensive research shows that new and inexperienced players enjoy the game more and continue playing for longer if in the early stages they play with players of a similar ability, this includes, but is not limited to our welcome lounges. These players are free to play on any table they chose.
Users in the PokerStrategy thread have also reported receiving denials from Party support.
Lending logical credence to the rumors: Party is preparing for the launch of a Zynga-branded poker skin, and it makes sense that they’d want to offer a soft landing to that cohort.
Also, Party has made a number of changes to their poker room in the last year – cutting out high stakes, ending their partnership with PokerStrategy – that are philosophically aligned with a segregated lobby.
Early reactions have been mixed. Some samples from Twitter:
When regulars discriminate weaker players the community largely approves. Now that Partypoker discriminates regulars it’s not ok?
— Kim Lund(@InfiniteEdgeKim) February 28, 2013
PartyPoker accused of hiding the fish from the regs; gives incredibly vague response. I’m confused. forumserver.twoplustwo.com/28/internet-po…
— Terrence Chan (@tchanpoker) February 28, 2013