Side bets could soon be allowed at the world’s largest poker site. PokerStars is currently testing the new feature on its .UK and .EU clients, allowing players to bet on the flop and upcoming cards.
How It Works  
Players make side bets not against each other, but against the house. The money involved in betting also does not come from their stacks at the table, but instead taken from their account balances, to avoid any sort of impact on their actual play. Thus, making side bets does not require any special skill whatsoever, and is generally a new way for players to gamble.
PokerStars has not issued any official statement yet with regards to the side bets but there is a dedicated webpage currently present on the site, with details about the new feature.
There is limited information on the side bets available and the odds on offer. From what we know as of now, players are given two options – betting on the flop (all one suit or not), and betting on hole cards (whether or not they will get a pocket pair). The first side bet has an estimated 97.12% return-to-player (RTP) rate, while the second one involves a 97.29% RTP. Given these, PokerStars (the house) has an edge of between 2.71% and 2.88%.
This compares to the 2.70% house edge in single-zero European roulette, and 1.06% in baccarat.
While side betting is not entirely new to live poker and other casino games, it is a first in online poker. Players taking part in live tournaments often bet on upcoming cards while they wait for playable hands. This latest move by PokerStars comes as no surprise as the online operator has not kept its focus solely on poker over recent years, turning their attention towards sports betting and casino.
PokerStars is not the only site considering this move, as its main competitor partypoker might also be planning to launch a roulette or blackjack table during cash game sessions. The same can be said about other sites, such as the iPoker Network and the GG Network.
As the new feature is still being tested on a limited market, it has not yet gained much feedback as of now. However, recent discussions on TwoPlusTwo forum point to certain players not liking the new feature.
One member even urged players to “hide side bets” and prevent it from auto-opening as they join a table. Some players also raised concerns over software issues arising from the addition of the new side bets feature. One such player reported experiencing crashing twice using the updated version, with the side bet tabs being quite distracting.
Side Bets Might Not Sit Well With Players
Casual players who join poker sessions simply for fun and are into gambling might find this new feature interesting. But for those who play poker for a living, side bets would just consume their bankroll much faster, compared to when they only play cash games or tournaments. Bets often take place in micro and low stakes games which already charge a certain rake. Paying up to 2.88% extra in making side bets could come across as additional burden for serious grinders.
It’s still too early to tell whether the new feature would eventually be declined by a lot of PokerStars players, but based on the above factors, it could be possible.
The latest side bets feature is just one of a roster of new offerings released by Poker Stars in recent months. Last year, the online poker operator also launched “All-In Cash Out”, providing insurance for cash game players when they go all-in.
It gives players the options to withdraw their equity when they go all-in before the river during the hand. PokerStars in return will get 1% of your equity for facilitating the option. The player who chooses not to use the insurance will proceed with the hand and win the pot.
PokerStars is expected to roll out the side bets feature across a wider s once the trial becomes successful. Do check out the site for the latest updates on this new feature.

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