I always imagined what the R&D center at major online poker companies looked like. Sort of a hybrid of a room full of tech geeks with a mad scientist in the corner sitting at a poker table and teaching androids how to play poker. Something like Westworld meets Silicon Valley, but you know... with lots of hoodies and a constantly shuffling of chips.
The whizzes at PokerStars HQ pulled the plug on Split Hold'em. Gotta assume they didn't get the numbers they expected. Players weren't into it because of so many split pots. After a while you start to realize... man, every pot is friggin' split! What's the point?
Split Hold'em sounded fun in theory. The second flop, turn and river was a great way to mix things up one in a while. But it was a gimmick that was a one-note result. Split Hold'em is more suited for a home game. It's the perfect dealer's choice game that you play a couple of times every hour. But it seems like a hard way to grind out a living. Poker is tough enough when you factor in (increasing) rake, but life's too short to grind out Split Hold'em!
New innovations go through countless hours of trial and error before a product is ready for a launch. It also takes a miracle worker to bring a concept to full fruition. Most innovations fail. That's the point of testing out new things in the tech world. You keep searching until you find something that works. In the meantime, if you get close, you keep tinkering and tweaking it until it finally works.
Poker players are fickle. They crave new things but slow to adapt. However, when they finally find something they like... they got bonkers, nuts, insane, crazy for it. Like rabid-addiction. Open Face Chinese was a good example of how the game took the entire community by storm.
Since then, there's been a race to monetize and capitalize the next big craze. Whether it's a fad (remember when we all learned Baudgi?) or side-gambling staple (OFC), there have been lots of misses and very few hits. Rush Poker or Zoom Poker was an instant hit for under degens... but once you start playing that, you can never go back to "basic" online poker. Zoom/Rush is like crack cocaine on steroids and meth and molly and smack and dipped in liquid cocaine and dusted with more cocaine and served on a bacon-wrapped cocaine leaf.
In the meantime, degens and geeks will continue to collaborate to find the next "perfect" poker format. Will there ever be a day when Texas Hold'em becomes an "old man's game" like Seven-card Stud? There was a moment when I was convinced that PLO is going to take over the world and Hollywood would remake Rounders and force Koppleman/Levien to rewrite the script to include four-card PLO.
PLO is fun as hell. Too much fun. But if you thought the average NL hold'em player was careless when it came to bankroll management, you can only imagine how crazy it got with PLO. It's akin to giving a junkie forty acres of poppy fields.
Alas, PLO didn't exactly take over the world. The fast-paced balls-to-the-wall game busted hundreds of pros who took a shot at the big time, but crashed and burned. Meanwhile a small group -- the best of the best -- exponentially boosted their bankrolls. If anything, PLO was a detriment to the ecosystem, which divided and conquered a group of neo-liquid pros. High-stakes PLO action forged or created a super-class of poker pros (scarf-clad ballers who only date models, fly private jets, and have a private sushi chefs and own guru as part of their entourage), while many top-tiered hold'em players lost their fortunes gamboooling it up.
I missed Beat the Clock. The techies at PokerStars HQ killed my favorite game (even though I was playing on play money, it was fun and highly-addictive). Please bring that back from the dead storage locker on Level 21. They killed Beat the Clock for Power Up Poker, which was ushered in with tons of hoopla and then fizzled out like a last gasp fart.
How about Quadruple Flop Crazy Pineapple? We'll call it QUAFLO CRAP. How about a degen version where you can run the river twice or 8 rivers?!? And if you don't have enough cards, who cares... use the muck! RNG the discards back in. Let's even ramp up the heart-thumping excitement by making it a hyper-turbo SNG.
I heard whispers that Split Hold'em got canned to usher in two new games called Showtime and Spin&Goal. Showtime looks looks fancy, but it's no BEAT THE CLOCK! And I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess that Spin&Goal is some sort of tie in with the FIFA World Cup and potential integration of the Bet Stars vertical.
Anyway, you just read an obituary for a game that you probably didn't even knew was alive. RIP Split Hold'em.