New PokerStars Feature Gives Users Option to View “Stacks in Big Blinds”

  • Players can now see their chip stacks in big blinds rather than chips
  • Feature is optional and can be toggled in software settings
  • PokerStars have made it available for cash games and tournaments
poker chips and cards on a laptop keyboard
With “Stacks in Big Blinds”, PokerStars players can now have their chip stacks displayed as a number of big blinds instead of chip counts. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Counting stacks as big blinds

PokerStars announced on Wednesday that a new “Stacks in Big Blinds” feature has been added to the software client. This gives players the option to have the chip stacks displayed in terms of big blinds instead of chips.

The update is effective immediately on the PokerStars.com client. Meanwhile, the play-money PokerStars.net client does not appear to have the new feature at the time of this writing.

When activated, the chip stacks of every player at the table are shown as big blinds.

The feature, which is optional, can be turned on in the “Table Display” section of the software settings. When activated, the chip stacks of every player at the table are shown as big blinds. For example, at a $1/$2 table, a $40-chip stack would read as “20 BB”. Fractional big blinds are counted for bets as well.

Big blind tracking integral to poker

Serious cash game players often track their win rates in terms of big blinds per hour and/or big blinds per hundred hands. They keep records of how much money they make, of course, but big blinds can be a better indicator of success. $20 per hundred hands means something different when it is the result of a 2 bb/100 win rate versus 10 bb/100.

Stacks are counted as big blinds more often in tournaments. World Series of Poker broadcasts on ESPN show the standings with chips in one column and big blinds in another. Online live poker tournament coverage frequently does the same thing. PokerStars has made “Stacks in Big Blinds” available in both cash games and tournaments.

Chris Straghalis, the director of Poker Product at PokerStars, told the PokerStars blog:

If you think of your stack in terms of big blinds, it causes you to approach the game very differently.”

He added that, at PokerStars, “we can align our software with how people approach poker.”

Opt-in or opt-out

PokerStars players can swap back and forth between displaying stacks as big blinds or as chips at any time.

“We made the feature opt-in because we know there will be some players who will hate it,” Straghalis said. “Poker is a very polarising game. So if you never want to see stacks in big blinds, you won’t.”

He used the example of poker streamers as the types of players who might not like stacks counted in terms of big blinds. Viewers, he maintained, might not be familiar with counting big blinds. It could be hard to follow a streamer who is playing in a tournament when you are looking for chip counts and can’t find them.

Giving players a helping hand

PokerStars is proud of its history of adding features that players want, but it almost sounds like Straghalis feels this feature was long overdue.

He noted that it can be unnecessarily taxing to have to make chip-to-big blind calculations in the middle of hand. So, PokerStars might as well give players the tools to do the math automatically.

Straghalis commented that “there is third-party software which lets people do this, so there’s clearly a demand and a need for it.”