PartyPoker Bans More Bots and Implements More Changes

PartyPoker Bans More Bots and Implements More Changes

The year 2019 has been one of changes and promises for PartyPoker. As the site has increased player engagement and added numerous pros to its roster of ambassadors and Twitch poker streaming team, it has also implemented some changes to encourage a fairer playing environment for all.

One change that has been supported by the vast majority of players is a crackdown on bots, which are programs designed to play automatically or gather information on unsuspecting players in order to increase pros’ advantages. This has been an ongoing process and continues.

Another development that is fairly new is one that will require players in high-stakes cash games to use their real names instead of aliases or screen names.

This and other changes will be implemented going forward as PartyPoker updates its software in the weeks and months to come.

Bot Ban Continues

The Poker Fraud Team at PartyPoker had been working from December 2018 and through 2019 to detect bot-affiliated online poker accounts and ban them, which also involved refunding players who were victims of the bots.

Through March 2019, PartyPoker banned a total of 277 accounts and refunded nearly $735K in the process. And then in April, the site banned another 94 accounts and pushed more than $150K back into the hands of legitimate players.

The latest news came from PartyPoker in June and reported that another 42 accounts were closed in May. That number included 33 accounts playing on the dot-com site (five of them reported by players) and nine (three reported by players) on the EU site open to players in France and Spain.

From those closures, account balances seized totaled $46,805 from dot-com accounts and €3,598 from dot-eu accounts. Those funds were redistributed back to any players victimized by those bots.

PartyPoker will continue the monthly reporting to the public and encourages players to report any suspicious activity to reports@partypoker.com.

HUD Ban Ensues

Earlier in 2019, PartyPoker reported that HUD programs were going to be banned, but the process for doing so involved some notifications and offers to help the program operators play by the rules.

The terms and conditions of PartyPoker play consider most poker programs to be as deceptive as bots, and the advantage that they give to some players creates an unbalanced and dishonest playing environment. The site intended to ban the HUDs and warn players against using them, eventually threatening to suspend those players if they ignored those warnings.

Due to ongoing conversations with many program developers, the HUD ban that was supposed to begin during the first week of May was postponed several times.

But on June 17, at the time of the latest software update, the ban did go into effect. PartyPoker required all players logging in to their accounts after the update was completed to change their usernames. That change was put into place to keep HUD programs from using their previous screennames to track their play and devise strategies to compete against those players.

In addition, the new update does not allow players to download hand histories, something that HUD programs did to incorporate the data. And all player notes have been deleted with the update process, something that players were warned would happen.

To counter that, several new features launched with the new software update. One is the new hand history replayer, which allows players to review recent hands on a mini-dashboard. This feature displays hands from a current cash game table, Fast Forward pool, or tournament, complete with hole cards, board cards, and pot sizes. Opponents’ names and rake are also available on the mini-dashboard only, and none of it is downloadable.

Another new feature is the Hand History Office, which players can find from the main online poker lobby. It allows players to navigate between hands and display data points on hands played within three months prior to that date. This can be used for cash game and tournament hands. Filters also allow searching by date range, pot size, and hole cards. Opponents’ names, however, will be anonymized.

As for third-party software, the only programs allowed at this time are partycaption and StackAndTile. All others will violate the terms and conditions of PartyPoker.

PartyPoker Managing Director Tom Waters and player liaison and ambassador Patrick Leonard noted that these changes are a part of creating a safe, improved, and fairer place for online poker. Waters noted, “We want our players to have a fresh start.”

Changes for High Rollers

One change that is planned but hasn’t been widely discussed is one that will affect players in high-stakes cash games, heads-up online poker games, and online satellites to live tournaments. Pokerfuse revealed that this change was discussed on a podcast and will be likely be implemented in July.

Rob Yong of PartyPoker explained that the overall objective is to simply make the games as “ethical and straight and trustworthy” as they would be in a live poker room.

The goal of the alias removal in certain games is to bring in more recreational players, and this rollout will start with high-stakes cash games first, then address other games moving forward.

Fixed Buy-Ins on the Way

Another change on its way will pertain to cash games and mimic something that is being done at other online poker sites, most notably the new Run It Once online poker site owned by Phil Galfond. All cash games, including Fast Forward games, will require a fixed buy-in of 100 big blinds. PartyPoker announced this via tweet.

Pokerfuse revealed information beyond the tweet, noting that the move is set to be implemented by the end of June. PartyPoker representative Colette Stewart noted on the site’s Discord channel that the first of numerous changes to come will be the 100xBB requirement.

Generally, poker sites are concluding that this fixed buy-in creates a more equal playing field and reduces the advantage that professional players might have over recreational or weaker players with lower bankrolls. It is intended to prevent practices of profiting from a cash game, leaving, then buying back in with a shorter stack.

Changes to Continue Throughout 2019

According to Yong, dozens of changes will take place over the coming six to nine months, thus continuing into 2020. He also noted that players will be notified before changes are officially implemented. And players are welcome to address any concerns with player representatives.

About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

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