What is Tempest on Pokerstars and is it worth playing?


A new format in the lobby always attracts increased attention. Marketers lure players to the novelty with promotions and news. The ads work and amateurs fill the tables. The flow of weak players attracts professionals and they also pay attention to a fresh format. But only not always the new discipline is profitable. Is it possible to make money at Tempest tables on PokerStars?

What does the game in Tempest look like?

Tempest resembles a remodeled version of Push or Fold or All in or Fold tables. Players have only two options on the preflop: all-in or fold. The seniority of the combinations fully corresponds to the rules of No Limit Texas Hold'em. But the order of bets in the exclusive PokerStars format is very different from what we are used to.

In Tempest, three players make mandatory bets on the preflop. In addition to the familiar small and big blind, a "giant blind" is added. Its size is defined as x2 of the big blind. This bet is made by the player to the left of the BB position. The PS innovators did not stop there and added an ante to the game.

The rules of the game encourage you to play on the stack as often as possible

The size of the obligatory bet for all players is shown on the right side of the game table. The value of the ante is dynamic and varies depending on previous events:

  • if the last hand ended in a showdown, the ante is rolled back to the minimum amount;
  • if everyone threw cards in the last hand, the ante goes up. This can be repeated until the maximum ante for the limit (buy-in) is reached.

Tempest borrowed elements of CAP tables from PokerStars. In one hand a player can bet no more than 10 giant blinds. Let's say that at the Tempest table of the first limit the player has accumulated a stack of $5. In one hand he cannot bet more than $1.

How to find Tempest in the PokerStars lobby?

Finding the new format shouldn't be too difficult. Here's how to get to the table:

1. Log into the PokerStars client;

2. Select the tab "Tempest".

3. Select the appropriate buy-in.

4. Press the green button "Play Now".

It is interesting that Pokerstars referred the format to tournaments, that's why they offer to choose buy-in rather than limit. There are 10 Tempest limits available: the minimum buy-in is $1 and the maximum is $1,000. The whole game is played at short tables for six players. The discipline does not provide Full Ring.

Tempest is not in great demand on Pokerstars: tables with buy-ins of $200, $500 and $1,000 are empty. At the $100 buy-in table, at the time of writing this article, HU was playing. There was no play at the $10 table either. Even a cursory examination revealed that half of the levels were unclaimed.

Is it realistic to play Tempest with profit?

Experienced poker players have already drawn a clear picture from the description of the rules, but for beginners let's outline:

It is impossible to win at a distance in Tempest

Plusing in a game with no postflop is an unrealistic task. Skilled players simply have nowhere to show their level and outplay their opponents.

The arcade discipline is aimed solely at grinding players' stacks into rake. The commission per pot here is even higher than at NL Holdem tables. The numbers are formally identical - about 5%, but Tempest's rake cap is twice as high. Let's compare NL100 in cash and $100 buy-in tables. The rake in the former is 4.5% and the new format is 5%. The pot rake cap for two players in cash is $0.5, in Tempest it is $1.

The total stock of money at the table is indicated in parentheses

PokerStars' Tempest is good for fun. After a tough work week or month, it's fun to come in and shovel a little stack on the minimum stakes. As a core discipline, however, there's hardly a less appropriate format on PS.

PokerStars' Chronicle of Experiments (Failures)

Inventing a new popular format is every poker room's dream. Ideally, it will attract newcomers to poker and lure players from other rooms. From the inception of online poker until today, two event formats can be distinguished:

  • Fast Poker under the "Rush" label at Full Tilt Poker. It was introduced in 2010, while other rooms copied Rush 2 years later. That's when "Zoom" appeared on PokerStars, "Snap" on 888Poker, "Fast Forward" on partypoker. Read more about fast poker in "What are the best rooms for playing fast poker".
  • Spin&Go with the name "Expresso" on Winamax. It appeared in the French poker room in the summer of 2013. PokerStars made a counterpart a year later, in the fall of 2014.

Why the French did not make the game exclusive we don't know

In both cases, PokerStars popularized the disciplines and most players tried them in the red-peak room. Not only did this make good money for the poker room, but it also led management to think, "New formats bring in more revenue." And if PS not only invented the discipline, but also got exclusive rights to it, the flow of money would be inexhaustible. Before "Rush" managed to borrow only because of the miscalculations of Full Tilt management, which did not patent its novelty properly.

It was just a matter of inventing a gold mine. PokerStars sincerely tried and this is what (not) came out:

  • Split Holdem. Launched in late May 2018, it was removed from the lobby in mid-July. The game dealt two boards and split the pot in half between the strongest combinations of each. In short, PS tried to add Hi/Low elements to no-limit Texas Holdem and they failed.
  • Showtime Holdem. Showtime Holdem in the Lobby appeared a few days earlier than Split and lasted two weeks longer. The key difference of this invention from the usual NL Holdem - all the cards dropped became visible to any of the players. The calculation was for the new dynamics of the game.
  • Unfold Holdem. Lived on PokerStars from early August to late September 2018. Allowed players to return to the game after fouls for an additional fee. "Unfolded" players claimed a separate ante pot and did not participate in the hand from the flop. The rest of the game at the table continued as usual.
  • Fusion. Appeared on Pokerstars in early November 2018 and lasted until January 2019. The game started under NL Holdem rules and mutated into PLO by the turn. Players were dealt 1 more card in their hand on the flop, becoming 4 cards on the turn.

The more complicated the rules, the less interest the players have

  • 6+ Holdem. Short deck poker was added on January 19, 2019 and...not removed! The game is still featured in the PS lobby and is moderately popular. The difference with NL Holdem comes down to "what happens if you remove 2, 3, 4, 5 from the deck?".
  • Deep Water Holdem. Repeated the fate of Fusion and was technically available for two years in the lobby. The longevity is easy to explain - introduced in late November 2019, removed in early January 2020. This time, no-limit Texas Hold'em was supplemented with ante on the preflop and an extra giant blind.
  • Tempest. Hailing from the PokerStars lobby as of November 20, 2019.
  • Swap Holdem. Launched in March 2020, shut down in May of the same year. Here, players were allowed to swap one or both cards of the starting hand. Allowed to swap hands on any of the streets.

Holdem with the exchange people also did not like

  • Fusion. Yes, they re-added the same game with the same result. It lasted even less time in the lobby than the first time.

From May 2020 to today, PS has not done another experiment. Not surprisingly, only 2 of the 9 formats have passed the test of time. If we discard 6+ Holdem, which was a copying of someone else's idea, the statistics is quite depressing: only Tempest has survived on PokerStars.

What free programs work on PokerStars?

Instead of experimenting with questionable disciplines, we recommend changing your approach to traditional NL Holdem. A good way to make sessions more fun is to use poker software. Some of the useful tools will not cost you a penny. We recommend StarsCaption and Hand2Note.

StarsCaption. An auxiliary program to play comfortably at multiple tables at PokerStars.

StarsCaption is regularly updated, so the software works almost always

Allows you to stay focused longer and less distracted by routine activities. Converts stacks to big blinds, displays built-in HUD, changes font sizes, saves betting profiles, blocks pop-ups, and automatically arranges tables across the screen. StarsCaption works for free and has no time limit on NL10 and tournaments with buy-ins up to $3.

Hand2Note. The program imports hand history and displays stats on opponents online.

VPIP, PFR, 3bet and other basic stats are available in the free version of Hand2note

Poker tracker helps not only in the game, but also in strategy analysis. H2N is the most innovative and advanced software for collecting statistics, but its main advantage is different: the tracker is available for free to anyone. Back in the fall of 2019, the developer made the basic version of the software free with no time limit. You can download the basic version of Hand2Note from the official website of the product. And if you ever want to switch to the paid version, specify H2N10NU in the "Promo code" field. It gives you a 10% discount on any of the subscriptions.

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