PokerStars Announces Sweeping Changes to Third-Party Software

July 12th, 2015 | by Jason Reynolds
PokerStars third-party software changes

PokerStars has announced it will take additional steps to prevent not only computerized bots from accessing its rooms, but also certain third-party software programs. (Image: fortunatop10.com)

PokerStars players will soon need to say goodbye to certain third-party software programs that provide data and advice, as the network has determined they give an unfair advantage.

After announcing the world’s largest online poker network was considering changes to its third-party terms and conditions last month, the brand confirmed this week that forthcoming modifications would occur.

Posting on the TwoPlusTwo forums, poker room manager Steve Day said, “We’ve decided to move forward in principle with the changes proposed in the OP [original post]. We still have some decisions to make regarding final wording … we will be in touch with some software developers regarding their existing applications to clarify which features might violate the upcoming rules so that they will have time to make the appropriate changes.”

Skier Avalanche

The need for comprehensive changes to its third-party stipulations is primarily the result of software developed by a player using the moniker “skier_5.”

“A developer recently shared new software with us for evaluation and we informed him that the software was allowable,” Day said in June.

However, following continued research, Day and PokerStars found that while permissible under the network’s current rules, the software “goes beyond the level of assistance we want to see software providing players,” resulting in strong considerations to alter company policies.

Three players using the skier_5 program including skier him or herself had nearly identical pre-flop, flop, and even turn statistical data according to analytics revealed by HUSNG. The original ruling that the skier_5 program was allowable was solely based on the fact the software isn’t necessarily a bot, as the ultimate decision is still left to the human player, but the network is now reconsidering that policy.

“In the past we had always allowed charts to be used for reference during play,” Day posted this week. “A primary reason was that a player could simply print out a chart and we would not be able to detect it.”

With the advancement of software technology that can now replicate a bot without being automated, action must be taken. “I want to make completely clear that we are headed firmly toward further restrictions on 3rd party software in the future,” Day affirmed.

Players Rejoice

While a few players expressed views that more regulation and oversight isn’t a good thing, the majority of poker players, at the very least those posting on TwoPlusTwo, seem to support the third-party changes to crack down on bot-esque software.

A sampling of player reactions included comments such as “Stars go further please. Ban ALL software including huds. Make poker pure again” … “In a competitive environment, where cheating is accessible to everybody and hard to detect, sooner or later there’ll be more cheaters than honest players” … “This is good news. For the health of the game I feel it’s imperative that third-party software is heavily restricted.”

The fact that PokerStars seems intent on creating a more fair online card room is an important development, especially for those who believe the casual Internet poker player is a valuable commodity moving forward. It’s also a crucial step in any American jurisdiction welcoming back PokerStars to a regulated environment.

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