partypoker Implements “Phase One” of Rec-Friendly Software Changes
Earlier this month, partypoker announced a few significant changes to its software designed to “level the playing field” and protect casual players. Yesterday, “Phase One” of those changes was put into effect.
The two changes now in place have to do with the mechanics of joining cash games:
1. Players wishing to wait for a cash game will join a room-wide waiting list and be randomly seated when a seat that matches their preference becomes available.
2. Players joining a cash game will see the names of their opponents only once their first hand is dealt.
Previously, as has been the case with almost every online poker throughout history, the cash game lobby would a list of tables sorted by stakes, game type, or what-have-you. Players looking for a game could see all sorts of details about a table: who was seated, how much money each player had in front of them, how many hands the table is averaging per hour, the percent of players who see the flop, and average pot size. They could then choose whichever table they wanted and sit down if there was an open seat or get themselves on a waiting list for the specific table if the table was full.
No more. Now players simply get themselves on a single waiting list for the type of game they want and the partypoker client software will seat them at an open table. Many partypoker players will likely be upset with the new system, as it eliminates any ability to table select. I know when I used to play at partypoker (I’m in the U.S., so alas, I can’t anymore), I would try to find tables with a high average number of players to the flop and a relatively high average pot, especially if I was grinding for a bonus.
But there is a reason for this move by partypoker. As seasoned players have become more savvy over the years and new third-party software tools have been developed, sharks have intentionally targeted players who they know are week through tools that can allow them to instantly identify which weak players are currently playing and where. On top of that, seating scripts can then automatically seat the user with their prey so that they can begin syphoning off their chips. Eliminating the ability see any table details or seat select in general, it foils anyone who wants to use such third-party software. They have to just sit wherever the software takes them.
The second change listed above serves a similar purpose. Even if someone was able to get around the room-wide waiting list, they still would not be able to see who is at the table until they are actually dealt cards. Again, no more stalking opponents.
Mike Sexton, who has served as both World Poker Tour commentator and partypoker Ambassador for ages, approves of the changes. On the partypoker blog, he said:
As a professional poker player, I understand players who seek out games with weaker players, but they must realize that those being ‘stalked’ will most likely quit playing if the same user names continually show up at their table when they opt to play. Losing these players is not good for the everyday player or the site. Personally, I think it’s great that recreational players are being protected from the using third party software. Hats off to partypoker for implementing this.
Golan Shaked, partypoker’s Director of Games, is also (obviously) proud of the initiative, saying, “Since we announced our plans to restrict the use of third party tools on our software we have been delighted by the response of the poker community. Today we are pleased to be introducing the first of those changes which will level the playing field for all players.”
The poker room has one more change coming – termed “Phase 2” – that it says will go live next week. With this one, partypoker will adjust the way it administers hand histories. Rather than being saved on the player’s hard drive as a text file in perpetuity, the hands will only be able to be pulled up from within the client software and will only be available for twelve months. What this will do will be to make it impossible (or it at least much more difficult) for players to store data on their opponents, thus eliminating the ability to use HUDs for anything useful. It is also another roadblock for those trying to track down weaker opponents, since they won’t have information on who is weak and who is strong.