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Director of PokerStars’ Online Poker Experience on the latest special edition of the PokerFuse podcast Chris Straghalis he was interviewed about his work at PokerStars, discussing a range of topics from game integrity to the poker product itself.

Over the course of an hour, Straghalis explained everything about how PokerStars operates when it comes to game integrity issues, as well as what players can expect from future online tournaments.

From poker product management to poker operations, Straghalis was able to pull back the curtain and discuss the inner workings of PokerStars itself. Listen to the full episode by clicking here.

Chris Straghalis
Straghalis at the poker tables

The importance of game integrity

Pokerfuse Podcast hosts, Michael Gentile and: Nick Jones wanted to know more about how the Game Integrity side of Straghalis’ work worked.

“When I say I’m responsible for the integrity of the game, it’s not just the operational side of our game integrity. […] but also we have incredible tools in our backend that help us discover these things. We are always improving them. We’ve made huge improvements and expanded the range of things we can detect.

PokerStars logo

“We’re also very motivated to keep our games incredibly safe.”

“This is an arms race. You’re up against some very motivated people trying to build software that can help them make more money, but we’re also very motivated to keep our games incredibly safe. It’s more difficult, but we’re up for the challenge, and I’m confident in our ability to continue to proactively identify these things.”

What is Real Time Assistance (RTA)? Is it legal?

The discussion covered Real Time Help and how players can use it to cheat at the tables.

“Real-time assistance (RTA) is not necessarily new [PokerStars]Straghalis said. “It’s an acronym that’s become popular now. Basically, we don’t allow anything to help you make a decision. You are not allowed to use any software that helps you make a decision that is not entirely your own. You can’t use charts, you can’t use anything that advises you, you can’t even use random timer software that allows you to randomize how you make your betting decisions. […] all of those things are some level of real-time help.

“Even if you’re actually in control, if you’re getting outside influence in real time, while our client is open, that’s unacceptable.”

Solvers are allowed, Straghalis said, but only when your session is over and, perhaps most importantly, when the PokerStars client is closed. Otherwise, it will be disclosed and further action may be taken, which Stragalis says PokerStars is “very strong about”.


What is Ghosting? Multi-accounting? Agreement. Online poker cheating explained


Why do players love Spin & Gos?

One of the most exciting parts of Straghalis’ job was introducing new poker products like 6+ Hold’em or innovating on existing elements. It was such an element Spin & Go. These three-handed jackpot Sit & Go tournaments have become a staple of online poker rooms, and Straghalis says they’re a perfect fit for today’s online poker players.

“When you ask the players, and we’ve polled our players, to say: “Why do you love Spin & Go’s? What is the main reason they play?’ You might be surprised that it’s not the chance of a big jackpot that’s the main reason people play them.”

PokerStars Spin and Go Poker 2022 Guide

Instead, it’s the pace of play that makes them an attractive proposition, not just the big jackpots that may await them.

“When a beginner poker player plays poker, what is the biggest mistake they make? They are impatient. They play too many hands. There’s nothing wrong with playing a lot of hands in spin & go. You want people to play more. Hands: In fact, the right thing to do is to be more aggressive. I find it interesting that when people play them, they find that their preference for them changes from what might have drawn them to it in the first place.

“I know I’m only going to play for a short time because remember, time is precious. We know it’s a gift we get when people choose to play with us, but sometimes we don’t have everything we have. time in the world. It’s also, “I only have to play two players. I only have to beat two people and I can always play.”

WCOOP 2022

Being “adventurous” with a series of online tournaments

Whether it’s SCOOP or WCOOP, PokerStars: has a reputation for large online tournaments that simply ooze reputation. Straghalis says PokerStars may look less serious in the future.

“SCOOP and WCOOP, these are our serious tournaments. They have an amazing structure. I guess that’s what you want when you’re on top of the cream. You want the skill level and the big names to level up. up, because that’s what brings people to poker, the quest to become a champion is different, and it makes sense.

“Whereas our other tournaments like the MicroMillions or our upcoming series, which we haven’t given details on, but I’ll give you a little preview, our winter series is going to be a little bit more fun this year.

“What I will tell you is what we’re going to do a little more with our tournament series is take some of them and have a little more fun with them and do more adventurous things.”

A mix of live and online tournament experience

EPT Features Table

The recent announcement of the 2023 EPT schedule reinforced the strength of PokerStars’ live product, but Stragalis says linking it to the online product will help strengthen both at the same time.

“Nothing makes me want to play poker more than watching poker,” he said, referring to the EPT Live stream with commentators James Hartigan and Joe Stapleton. “We just had a mini EPT EPT London. This was the first time we tried this. Not the same as EPT onlinewhich we did last year but actually running alongside EPT London.

“[It was] A miniature version of the London series that matches our Twitch stream so players can participate while they watch and play a very similar event. By getting a package with the overall champion EPT Prague“.

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Will Schillibeer

Executive Editor EU

Will Shillibier is based in the United Kingdom. He graduated from the University of Kent in 2017 with a BA in German and then studied for an NCTJ Diploma in Sports Journalism at Sportsbeat in Manchester. He previously worked as a freelance journalist and video host for the World Poker Tour.



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