The quick and unceremonious demise of Unfold Poker.
They say if you blink while playing poker, you’ll miss out on
valuable information. A full table is often brimming with players of
various skill levels, many who unwittingly give up poker tells. The
twitch of an eye; the swipe of a sweaty brow; the slightest hint of a
smile when an opponent calls their bluff. To win at poker is to pay
attention to – and reap full advantage of – all these subtle
hints and more.
No matter how observant you think you are, odds are you may have completely missed a unique online poker variant that was introduced, ever so briefly, on the PokerStars platform during the summer of 2018. Its introduction came with far more fanfare than its swift and unceremonious demise. I’m talking about a little-known game they called…
Unfold Poker – A PokerStars Failure
There aren’t too many things the creators of PokerStars have
done wrong over the years. For the last fifteen years, it’s been
the world’s most trafficked online poker room. But in August 2018,
their games innovation crew made one abysmal mistake with the
production of the “Unfold” online poker format.
PokerStars launched the game in the first week of August with the
tag line “No Regrets!” That’s awful funny now, looking
back, as PokerStars was the only one regretting the decision to
launch it at all.
The concept sounded good on paper – sort of. Players would be
given the option – for a nominal fee, of course – to un-fold a
previously folded hand. I have no doubt that anyone reading this can
think of a time when they would have given anything to go back just a
few moments in time and reclaim what would have been a beautiful
hand, had they only not elected to fold it. Unfortunately, the format
was full of so many holes, it couldn’t hold a bowling ball, much
less a drop of water.
The Inherent Flaws of Unfold’em Hold’em
First of all, as more than one player was quick to point out, the
name was horrible. How do you conceptualize such a set of rules and not call it “Unfold’em Hold’em”? But I digress…
The real gripe came with the higher rake and additional cost of
According to the rules enforced at Unfold tables, players had to
post an Ante bet before every hand that went into the “Unfold Pot”.
Then, nay player that mucked their hand pre-flop would be given the
opportunity to Unfold it after the flop came down. For instance, if
someone tosses 10-3 offsuit, and the board flopped 10-3-2, the player
could virtually rewind, reclaim their cards, and stay active in the
hand. Doing so would cost them an additional equal to the size of the
Of course, allowing a player that folded to compete against
players who didn’t wouldn’t be very fair, now would it? Instead,
these unfolding players would only compete against other players who
folded pre-flop, then back-tracked after, with the winner among them
harvesting the Unfold Pot (minus rake, of course).
Needless to say, it wasn’t a hit. Quite the contrary, it was a
complete disaster. It only took 6 weeks for PokerStars to review the
earnings from their Unfold Poker tables and determine it was a
“flop”. After less than two months on the PokerStars menu,
it died a quick and unceremonious death.
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