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PokerStars to outlaw playing aids: games to get more profitable

Daniel Smyth 15 Jun 2015
  • PokerStars considers banning third-party software.
  • Community being asked to give its reaction.
  • Easier games for players in the future. 
PokerStars to tackle third-party poker aids.

Online poker could become a much easier proposition, on PokerStars at least, if a new set of rules designed to outlaw automated decision-making software are put into place.

Over the last few years online poker has become a lot tougher to beat, especially on sites such as PokerStars, mainly due to the advent of highly sophisticated tracking software. 

While it was once the case that programmes such as PokerTracker and Hold Manager were able to store hands and provide players with an array of stats, third-party software now gives players a lot more help. 

From analysing ranges and providing the best move to actually playing the hands for players (known as bots), these products have made players markedly more skilled and, therefore, tougher to beat. In fact, despite the undeniable amount of value these products offer, they have given some players a bigger advantage than they may otherwise have had and that's something PokerStars is keen to tackle.

PokerStars' Proposals

Posting a possible solution to the issue on 2+2 late last week, the proposed policy would see players banned from using third-party software that allows them to gain an advantage at the table through automated decision-making software. Although not a complete sweep of the poker software world, the policy would outlaw the use of programmes such as FlopZilla, HEM2's LeakBuster and PT4's Leak Tracker. 

According to the wording of the new rules, data mining games, sharing hole cards, automated play and any software that provides "commentary or advice" would be banned. Essentially, if the new policy is brought into effect, it would mean the very basics in tracking software would be allowed. 

"1. Any tool or reference material that offers commentary or advice that goes beyond a basic level, such as stack-size-based starting hand tables, decision trees or heads-up displays that dynamically change based on player action or card values. 

2. Any tool or service that computes advanced equity calculations, such as range vs range simulators, ICM or Nash Equilibrium-based programs."

However, before this new policy is enacted, PokerStars has sought the opinions of the community. Although the site won't be swayed by popular opinion, it is open to hearing logical arguments for and against the plans. 

A quick survey of the responses seems to show that many people are keen to see the game being taken back to a more pure form. Naturally, the question of policing the issue has arisen, but many are still happy for PokerStars to move proactively on the issue and outlaw the use of third-party software.

Positive Moves by PokerStars

If these policies are implemented, what would it do for online poker players? Although it wouldn't guarantee the overall standard of games would decrease, the likelihood is that the learning curve of players would steepen and the playing field would, therefore, level out. Over the last few years a number of recreational players have been put off playing online simply because they've found the competition too tough.

However, if PokerStars can lead an industry charge against third-party software users, then it may cause something of a revolution and attract more players to the felt. Indeed, with recent signings such as Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo being used as lures for casual players, PokerStars will be hoping to make its games as attractive as possible and the banning of automated decision-making software is the first step in making this happen.

If you're not yet a PokerStars player and you want to take advantage of the new, less competitive, climate at the site, then follow our sign-up and create your first account today by clicking here.

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PokerStars to outlaw playing aids: games to get more profitable

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