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The online poker world circa 2009 was rife with multi-tabling talent. Major sites constantly one-upped another in their attempts to innovate, giving birth to one of the most goodwill-creating ideas to ever become reality in our industry: Synchronized Tournament Breaks.

Early on a Tuesday morning in April of that year, Full Tilt Poker‘s representative to the PocketFives forums “ftpdoug” announced the now-defunct brand’s latest software update. Ironically, what would become one of the greatest innovations in the history of online poker wasn’t even listed as the first point in that 2009 PocketFives Thread.

Read More: Looking Back: 10 Years Ago in Online Poker

As Doug would point out in a subsequent reply, there were a certain amount of requests from forum members to implement such a feature. Once the FTP rep took the request to his Development Team, he was pleasantly surprised to discover that the concept would not prove too difficult to pull off.

However, no one was 100% sure how MTT players would react to going on a forced break near the top of every hour. Up until that point, online poker tournament pros had accepted mandatory restroom breaks and other distractions as an unfortunate (yet unavoidable) decrease in expectation. Much like Forrest Gump, when stone age multi-tablers had to go, they went. When they had to eat, they ate. When they had to sit out, they sat out. But otherwise, they were grinding.

Competing Poker Sites Play The Copycat Game

What made synchronized online poker tournament breaks so innovative is how quickly other sites followed suit with Full Tilt Poker‘s new feature. In just three short months, PokerStars would update its platform to offer the same :55 to :00 MTT breaks, and then a slew of other sites joined in on the fun.

Poker forum members (a large percentage of which were seasoned multi-tablers) praised each site’s actions as brand reps gleefully posted their company’s decision to adapt with the times. Walking away from a large number of online tournaments for a few minutes every hour no longer had any negative consequences, and Synchronized Tournament Breaks remain the norm to this date.

The Full Tilt Poker devs would move on to introduce “fast-fold” action to the community in January 2010 with Rush Poker — which would once again spread through the Service Provider sector like wildfire.

No More Collaboration?

It’s not often in any industry that a single innovation receives such a positive reception and is then able to stand the test of time. Synchronized tournament breaks are an example of what can come out of poker sites and their highest volume consumers working in collaboration.

The relationship between the world’s dominant online poker brand — PokerStars — and its high volume customers has become bitter recently, yet perhaps a time will come when interests align anew

In the meantime, there’s at least one thing online poker grinders can be thankful for these days. The rakeback-equivalent benefits may be too low, the rake may be too high, yet casually strolling back to a separate work area after a making a dignified flush is just right.

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David Huber

David Huber has been involved in the poker industry for more than a decade: initially as a professional online poker player and later as an editor, consultant, writer, and forum manager. Known as "dhubermex" online, David's poker-related work has been heavily published across numerous websites since 2004.

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