PokerStars Officially Implements Seating Script Ban
It had been in the works for a long time. PokerStars has been one of the primary sites to tackle seating scripts at its tables, and it has now banned all of them.
The full ban was supposed to take effect on March 1, as of a January announcement, but it took more time than anticipated. PokerStars had to change its Third Party Tools & Services policy and come up with an exhaustive list of scripts to be banned, as well as a list of permitted ones. There was also time given for some of the scripts to adjust their software to be given permission rather than a spot on the prohibited script list.
As reported by Pokerfuse, the final policy went into effect on April 11, 2019.
What are Seating Scripts?
Throughout the decades of online poker availability, players have tried to find edges in the game. One of those edges was through the creation of software programs that would find optimal seating in cash games, and they became popular during the poker boom.
Professional players could use the programs to search online poker lobbies for players who displayed low or weak statistics, activity that could be exploited by better players. The software offered those players the chance to select seats at “soft” tables and target weaker or newer players. And it helped them avoid going up against strong players.
As the boom subsided and poker sites relied more heavily on attracting new and recreational players, they took aim at those scripts. They began to tweak their policies to discourage the use of those programs, and over time, bans have been put in place.
This is a great step forward. Bots, HUDs, and seating scripts took the fun out of the game for me. Always felt defeated before sitting in. Looking forward to playing online again soon in PA.
— Flick Strong (@flickstrong) January 30, 2019
Some always viewed those programs as a form of cheating, but even more players began to realize how quickly it would deprive recreational players of their small bankrolls and force them off the site without the desire to return. The longevity of many online poker sites depended upon creating a fairer playing environment, and players knew it.
Clear Third-Party Policy
The new policy is detailed on the PokerStars website and discusses the reasons for the changes. “The policy we have developed over the years follows thorough discussions internally and with poker experts, including our team of professionals,” it reads. “It is designed to be an appropriate compromise between allowing the use of tools and services that might enhance the playing and learning experience for the user, while prohibiting tools and services that give the user an unfair advantage.”
Various names of third-party software affected by the policy are then listed into three categories: always permitted, never permitted, and those prohibited while software is “open.”
The complete lists and terms are listed on PokerStars.
These programs are generally focused on game information, such as pot odds and hand strength. They build data based on the player’s own actions and do not track other players. Some of those programs, including any caveats and restrictions, are:
–Advanced Poker Training
–Hold’em Manager 2
These programs are often referred to as bots, as they serve as decision-makers with many auto-actions built in. Some collect data from unsuspecting players and from games in which the user isn’t even in action, all to target specific players and give unfair advantages to others. Some of the most well-known of those are:
–Advanced Poker Calculator
–Poker Table Ratings
Prohibited While PokerStars is Running
Some programs collect data from tables to determine and recommend optimal play. They serve as reference material and general resources, and they do not focus on collecting data on any particular players. Those programs permitted to run when PokerStars is not include:
–Hold’em Manager 1
–ALL IN Expert
–PokerStrategy ICM Trainer
Changes to Continue
As players react, some positively and some negatively, PokerStars knows that it will need to continue to monitor programs and change the policy and lists as time goes on. The last set of changes prompted such a reaction that PokerStars had to reconsider. This means that the latest policy incorporated as many of those as possible.
Beginning April 11, @PokerStars has now banned all types of seating scripts for ring games.
— Anuj Arora (@anuj2212) April 15, 2019
As a PokerStars representative told Poker Industry PRO, “In response to player feedback, we have made changes that prohibit players using seating scripts, effective immediately and for ring games only.”
The site is also considering a more extensive use of its Seat Me policy, which has been in effect in the European market since 2017 in some closed countries. The PokerStars-run program allows players to choose stakes in cash games but not a specific table, which reduces the chance that recreational players will be monitored and targeted.
Seat Me could eventually replace some of the seating script bans, but PokerStars has yet to determine if it will expand Seat Me to more markets.
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