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· Published 29.09.2021 · last updated 07.04.2022

Unibet Poker has recently released its Version 3.11 client update which introduced some new changes. One of them was a novel anti-ratholing system. For those who are not aware of ratholing, it is a tactic where a player leaves the cash-game table after winning a large pot and then returns to the table with a smaller stack. This way, the player guarantees that their winnings won’t be lost. In this article, we will look closer at the Unibet Poker update and discuss the status of ratholing in online poker. Read on for more details. 

Unibet Poker Update

Given that Unibet Poker is known for its appeal towards casual and recreational players, it is no wonder that its management wants to maintain a favorable poker ecosystem for that kind of player. In the Unibet Version 3.11 client update announcement on the Unibet Community Forum, Unibet’s Senior Poker Product Manager, Stubbe Buchwald, said the following regarding the new anti-ratholing measures:

“We’ve put quite a lot of thought into this. [We] won’t be preventing the behavior completely, due to ecology concerns. If a losing player wants to take a bit of money off the table occasionally, to limit his risk, we’re absolutely fine with that, and so should other players be, if the alternative is that he/she doesn’t play or leaves the table completely.”

From this statement, we can clearly see that this change has required a balanced approach. Meaning that ratholing will not be prevented completely in order to maintain poker ecology, however, it will be discouraged in larger amounts. Unibet has also described that their anti-ratholing measures are specifically targeted at people who routinely manipulate their stacks and avoid having larger stacks during cash games. Needless to say that such behavior is strongly disliked by the majority of the poker community. The main reason for that being the fact that it limits the number of chips other players can get from a “rat” (especially if you are trying to get your chips back). But we will go more into detail later on in the article.

As a result, Unibet has introduced a mixed solution to this problem. In a nutshell, it will make ratholing players join the same table with an increased amount of chips. If they don’t buy in with the required amount, they will be unable to join the table. The Unibet Poker client will feature a “ratholing counter” assigned to each player at the cash table. This counter will track how many times a player sit-outs and after the fourth sit-out, the ratholing player will be required to come back to the tale with a 100BB stack. As stated by the Unibet Poker in the announcement, this novel ratholing counter will track how many times a certain player leaves the cash table with 100BB or more. In other words, how many times the participant leaves after a big win and comes back to the exact same table within 30 minutes. The counter then resets each day at 00:00 UTC. Moreover, it works in all stakes and formats. 

As mentioned previously, Unibet Poker specifically wants to target repeated ratholing (instead of restricting it completely) in order to preserve the poker ecosystem. Together with an announcement, the poker room has also released a table that summarizes this system in a more coherent format:

Sat on the exact same table within the last 30 min Left table with stack in Big Blinds Ratholing counter value Min buy-in Max buy-in
No 50 Big Blinds 100 Big Blinds
Yes < = 50 Big Blinds 50 Big Blinds 100 Big Blinds
Yes 50 Big Blinds < X < 100 Big Blinds Last stack at that table 100 Big Blinds
Yes > = 100 Big Blinds 0-4 (inclusive) 100 Big Blinds Last stack at that table
Yes > = 100 Big Blinds 5 or higher Last stack at that table Last stack at that table

Status of Ratholing in Online Poker

As mentioned before ratholing is an act of leaving the table after a large win only to come back to the same table with a smaller stack. The main problem with ratholing is that it decreases the total amount of money on the table. This is mainly why ratholing is also considered to be a bad poker etiquette. Let’s look at an example. You are at a cash table and an opponent wins $100 off you. Right after that, they pocket the $100, therefore removing money from the game. Not only did this person decrease the total amount of money at the table, but they have also deprived you of the chance to win your money back. 

Of course, any player has a right to leave the cash table at any moment. These are the rules. However, if this tactic is abused, it discourages other players from the game and hurts the poker ecosystem. That is why more and more poker rooms are banning ratholing. It is their responsibility to restrict any practice that harms their business and customers. For example, PokerStars has made similar restrictions back in 2017 with their “Buy-in Obligations”. Other instances of predatory behavior are also banned on various networks. For example, iPoker and Winning Poker Network have made it difficult to bumhunt with new restrictions on table-select. 

Unibet’s approach to this problem is truly innovative. The fact is that before most poker rooms would prevent ratholing manually. Meaning that such activity would usually be reported by players to the poker room administration. However, Unibet’s management has decided to take a new and more creative approach. They have developed a balanced system that restricts ratholing in an adequate manner without harming the poker ecosystem. Not only that, but this update may add more value to the poker room. Due to these restrictions, there may be fewer players with small stacks at the tables while the number of players with 100+ BB stacks will increase. As a result, it can make the games more profitable and exciting. However, only time will tell how these new anti-ratholing measures will play out in reality. 

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