Poker strategy sites are numerous, and offer tips about Texas hold ’em, Omaha and other typical games. However, as online poker platforms like PokerStars continue to offer new variants, finding a winning strategy can be a challenge. Perhaps that difficulty is why the worldwide leader has announced that it is partnering with an alternative game strategy site OP-Poker.
As a result of the deal, OP-Poker founders James Mackenzie and Nick Walsh will become PokerStars’ official ambassadors and strategists for these types of games. Their roles will include streaming on Twitch and offering advice on games like PokerStars Fusion, Unfold Hold’em, and 6+ Hold’em.
The move seems like a win for both companies. OP-Poker will gain far more visibility, and PokerStars will harness a major resource to assist its development of new games.
What is OP-Poker?
Like most online poker strategy sites, OP-Poker features videos, charts, strategy guides and links to its Twitch stream. However, unlike other sites, OP-Poker has made its explicit goal to offer help for the less-common poker variants available.
So, these new games like Short Deck Hold’em and Fusion receive plenty of attention. The site even includes tips and advice for less strategy-dependent variants like Power Up games and Spin and Go.
Key to its new partnership with PokerStars, OP-Poker gears itself toward players of all skill levels. Walsh and Mackenzie believe these games offer players a chance at profits. So many are playing Hold’em, Omaha, and other variants.
“OP-Poker specializes in creating (strategic) content for new and unexplored formats,” Walsh said in an interview. “As poker players (ourselves), we try to find the games which offer us the greatest opportunity for profit. When a new game type or format is released it is, by its very definition, a new opportunity to tackle a set of challenges which have previously been unexplored.
“All it takes is to be better than those you are playing – players who are also new to the game. We specialize in building a solid foundation of strategies for these new games as quickly as possible.”
OP-Poker was founded by poker players for poker players
Mackenzie and Walsh founded OP-Poker in October 2017.
Mackenzie had wanted to start a poker-related stream and felt the release of PokerStars Power Up offered an opportunity to create unique content for Twitch and YouTube. Community and Content Manager Eva Reberc soon joined to help grow the “alternative” poker community.
“During our first 12 months, our primary focus was on Power Up. And in this time, we began to foster a strong relationship with members of the development team directly at PokerStars,” Walsh said. “In August 2018, we became the official community and ambassadors of the format.”
So far, players have received the site well. Many are looking to add something new to their poker repertoire.
“The reception to our alternative stream/YouTube content has been overwhelmingly positive,” Walsh said. “We believe that, although some of the alternative formats PokerStars have been creating are not always going to have mainstream appeal, these alternative game types offer players an opportunity to challenge and hone their poker fundamentals which will improve one’s game holistically.”
Walsh and Mackenzie know their subjects well. Both have completed a $30 to $1,000 Power Up Bankroll Challenge.
Walsh went even further, going from $1,000 to $2,000. The two spend hours playing and discussing the math and successful strategy behind new games released.
“So far, every time a new game has been released, we’ve had to take a different approach to evaluate each game,” Walsh said. “The hardest game to dissect was Power Up as there were so many new mechanics created specifically for this format. Having previously studied and strategized such a complex game, the other alternative formats have been a walk in the park to develop their base fundamentals.”
Getting in the game
So, why would anyone want to play these games? The guys at OP-Poker offer a few reasons:
- They’re new and fresh.
- They offer players an opportunity to holistically improve their poker skills by challenging their fundamentals in unexpected ways.
- Players can get a “first-mover advantage” on the opposition.
- It’s possible that one of these variants could become the next big game. The first players to master them stand to gain the most.
Now, realistically, the likelihood of these games surpassing more traditional games is small. However, it’s possible some may build a significant audience. And, it’s impossible to know what will be the next big thing in poker.
“Poker is always evolving,” Walsh said. “Game types have always come and gone in popularity. I think that many players have forgotten that.”