PokerStars continued the platform’s pivot from conventional Texas Hold’em, as the world’s leading online poker room is set to launch a new variant known as Unfold Hold’em.
No official announcements have been released by the site itself, but the official PokerStars account did send the following tweet on July 23:
“The eagle-eyed among you have noticed something new.
We don’t comment on potential, unannounced future game features.
However, we reserve the right to reverse this statement – or Unfold it, if you will – in the near future.”
That cryptic tweet was issued on the same day that industry news outlet PokerFuse published an exclusive article revealing the discovery of image assets featuring a poker table emblazoned with “Unfold.”
On July 26, PokerFuse published a second report detailing captured screenshots containing the rules of Unfold Hold’em, along with the following description of the new game:
“Unfold Hold’em is similar to the globally popular game of Texas Hold’em, but with an additional side pot contested by players who fold pre-flop.
Available as a cash game format, Unfold Hold’em gives you another chance to win with every hand – even if you’re not dealt good cards!
Every poker player knows the frustration of folding cards which would have flopped the nuts. Now, with Unfold Hold’em, you’ll never feel this pain again.”
Per the unearthed rules page, which has since been deleted, PokerStars will offer Unfold Hold’em as a six-max cash game. The gameplay itself will follow standard Texas Hold’em rules, aside from one crucial addition – the ability to retrieve folded hands after the flop.
Before each Unfold Hold’em pot, players must put up an ante equal to 50 percent of the game’s small blind, or 25 percent of the big blind. Those antes are contributed to a separate Unfold pot, and from there, the preflop action follows the usual rules. Once the flop has been dealt, however, the game pauses to allow any player who folded preflop an opportunity to unfold their hand.
To resurrect a folded hand, players must pay a one-time wager equal to the combined total of the Unfold pot. These bets add to the Unfold pot, and from there, players participating in the Unfold round have no further action.
The rest of the hand is contested by main game players, and upon showdown, Unfold players use the five-card community board to determine a winner. On occasions when the main pot is won before the turn or river, the full board will be dealt to complete the Unfold hand.
If that dynamic sounds familiar, that’s because PokerStars previously experimented with an unfolding feature while beta testing its 2017 new release Power Up.
At the time, PokerStars director of poker product Chris Straghalis told Poker Strategy why the ability failed to make Power Up’s final cut:
“One of the game designers created a power called ‘Zombie’ which, when played, would bring a player who had folded back into the game.
Their cards would be live again, overcoming that familiar complaint we all have about folding a hand like 92o and having the flop come 992. The problem was that in practice it was a power that almost always said ‘I win’ because you would only use it when you had the nuts (or near nuts).
That doesn’t mean we have given up on the power, but it will have to change before we ever let it see the light of day.”
Those changes appear to have been implemented, with Unfold Hold’em set to become PokerStars’ fourth product launch in the last 12 months – following Split Hold’em, Showtime Hold’em, and Fusion Hold’em.