New player-assistance software being used by a smattering of players to beat high stakes heads-up sit and gos has been criticized this week, with calls for PokerStars to ban the program.
The spotlight has fallen, in particular, on three players: “skier_5,” who apparently built the controversial software, as well as “allingirl777” and “freechdogg,” each of whom have identical pre-flop, flop and even turn stats over a large sample of hands.
While the precise functioning of the software is unclear, forum posters on TwoPlusTwo have hypothesized that it offers players game theory optimal moves, but leaves the actual button-clicking to the player.
This is distinct from poker tracking software, which feeds players statistics on opponents but ultimately relies on the user to interpret the information provided, and make the best decision based on a skillful reading of the game.
PokerStars has said that it will not ban the software because, following a thorough investigation, it is satisfied that it complies with its terms and conditions.
PokerStars’ T&Cs state that while it “prohibit[s] external player assistance programs,” that “give an unfair advantage to the player,” this advantage is defined as “any instance in which a User accesses or compiles information on other players beyond that which the User has personally observed through the User’s own game play.”
Because skier_5’s software is not strictly a bot, as it leaves the ultimate decision up to the player, and because it compiles no information on opponents, it is, apparently, acceptable.
But, according to posters on TwoPlusTwo this week, PokerStars needs to rethink its policy in order to preserve the integrity of the game.
“Been playing these guys at $200 hypers, it feels like Black Friday all over again.” complained a player posting under the name of “fighting coward.”
“Competing versus players using this software is incredibly difficult. ’Stars needs to draw the line somewhere on how much computer assistance is allowed, and this clearly has crossed it.”
“Since it’s out in the open now, there’s only one way this is going to go moving forward if Stars doesn’t do anything, which is that high stakes will basically be a competition to who has the best script/software for in-game help,” warned a poster called Torg0th.
“The line is pretty thin between what should be permitted or not, so I understand that Stars is in a pretty tough spot.
I’m the first guy to admit that I rely on poker softwares [sic] a lot with my play but I think at this point the best solution to salvage what is left of online poker might be to actually ban all in-game softwares.”
Skier_5 made a brief appearance on the online poker forum to defend his program, claiming that “there is no automated decision software,” but refused to elaborate on how the program actually worked. In the minds of many posters, his evasiveness spoke volumes.