In a bid to improve recreational player’s playing experience at the tables, PokerStars, the worldwide leader in online poker, today announced a drastic change to its cash game offerings, changing the maximum number of ring game tables a player can play simultaneously from 24 to 4.

The new multi-table limit policy came into effect on Tuesday, August 20 across all stakes but has only been applied to regular cash games including 6-max, full-ring, and heads-up. Other game formats such as Zoom, Sit & Gos, MTTs, and Spin & Go’s will retain the old table cap policy.

“We understand that this change will have a very real impact on many players, particularly those of you who rely on multi-tabling as professionals,” said Severin Rasset, Managing Director & Commercial Officer of Poker, in a PokerStarsBlog post published Tuesday morning.

“We haven’t taken this decision lightly, and we are confident this is the right thing to do for the future of the game,” he added.

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The move follows the company’s trial in Italy last summer when PokerStars limited the ring game multi-tabling to six tables. At the time, the company indicated that the Italian market would serve as a “major test” before further rolling out the new policy to other markets including the global dot-com market.

Ten months later, the company deployed similar restrictions to its Southern European network following the “positive impact” it had on the gaming experience of the majority of Italian players.

Now, three months later, the company has rolled out the new table cap policy across all PokerStars’ markets but with even further restrictions than the trial—lowering the maximum from six tables to four.

“When we trialed this change in Italy last year, we chose a six-table cap as a hypothetical optimum number,” Rasset explained in the blog post. “After careful review of the results over time, we now believe that a four-table cap is, in fact, the optimum number to achieve our goals.”

Smaller markets such as New Jersey and India have been untouched.

What is PokerStars trying to achieve by limiting multi-tabling?

The idea behind this new policy is to reduce the time players take to act at the tables and ultimately improve the playing experience for all players. As the company revealed last year, one of the most frequent complaints registered from players is “that the games are too slow due to opponents taking too long to act.”

The company did drastically reduce the time to act a player gets in February this year, but it seems that the room wants to improve the player’s experience further.

“By reducing the table cap from 24 to 4, we are reducing the number of multi-tabling players and increasing the number of more casual one-table players at each table,” Rasset explains. “This should lead to increased win rates on any individual table for the strongest players, while increasing the likelihood that single-table players will meet others like themselves. As a result, they’ll have more chance of experiencing winning sessions and continue to play in the longer term.”

Rasset did acknowledge that limiting multi-tabling to four tables will have an adverse effect on many players, especially those who play poker for a living. However, the company also believes that this will lead players to focus more on each table and create more action because players will be playing a wider range of hands and ultimately improve their win-rates.

As expected and predicted by Rasset, the move to limit ring game tables to four has not gone over well with some of the professional players. Many have complained that this move will lead to the downfall of full-ring tables and also force them to play more Zoom tables which have lower win rates. Some are complaining that restricting play to four tables is an extreme move and capping it at eight tables would have been much more reasonable.

However, PokerStars is not the only operator to impose multi-table restrictions on cash games. 888Poker caps play at six tables, Unibet set its cap at eight tables on low stakes and ten at higher stakes. Newly launched Run It Once Poker has a maximum table cap of six.