partypoker Taking Steps to Foil Third-Party Software

Trending this week on Flushdraw: online poker rooms making changes to help protect the “little guy,” to make their sites more recreational-player friendly. The latest edict comes from partypoker, which has been in the news the last two months more for what family might adopt it than actual poker. In a blog post Thursday, the poker site announced that is “taking Poker for the People to the next level by ensuring a level playing field for every single player.”

The way partypoker plans to do this is three-fold:

•    Players will be able to view the last 12 months of their own hand histories within the Missions icon in the partypoker software, but hand histories will no longer be able to be downloaded and saved to their local devices
•    Players wishing to wait for a cash game will join the room-wide waiting list and be randomly seated when a seat that matches their preference becomes available
•    Players joining a cash game will see the names of their opponents only once their first hand is dealt

The objectives are pretty clear. To the first bullet point, by not allowing hand histories to be downloaded, partypoker is looking to stop datamining as well as stop players from using hand tracking software, along with their packaged Heads-Up Displays (HUDs). Such software relies on the ability to read text files containing hand histories, so without that, they may end up to be fairly useless. It may be possible for the software developers to devise a way for players to screen scrape their own hand histories and convert them into something that can then be input into the program, but the ability for sites and players to effectively datamine thousands of poker players would be severely hampered.

New partypoker logoIf the second change looks familiar, it is because it is very similar to what Full Tilt did in July. By not allowing players to select tables and seats anymore, partypoker is effectively killing the ability for sharks to hunt fish and is quashing seating scripts. The third bullet goes along with this – even if someone develops software that can somehow get around the absence of table selection, it would be useless because they wouldn’t know who was at the table, anyway.

In the blog entry, partypoker’s Director of Games, Golan Shaked, shed some light on the reasoning behind the changes:

As part of our Poker for the People campaign, the partypoker team is committed to providing all poker players, regardless of experience or skill levels, with trusted poker products that are fair, ethical and fun. We will continue working with the wider poker community on developing a mutually beneficial, trusting relationship.

Tony Dunst, who serves as partypoker Ambassador and World Poker Tour commentator, had this to say:

These changes at partypoker are designed to create a more hospitable environment for recreational players. Unfortunately, many of the tools and tactics that professionals use to maximize their edge have made the games too difficult for new players to survive. Without them, grinders will merely pass money back and forth while being raked, and games will inevitably dry up. I think these changes will help level the playing field for casual players, and preserve the quality of games for professionals.

Partypoker’s Head of Network Operations and Business Intelligence Jay Kanabar told that he actually doesn’t have any problem with players using third-party software such as PokerTracker, but his company has received so many complaints against such software that it felt the most prudent move was to take steps to prevent its use.

The comparisons to Full Tilt with the cash game lobby changes may make some nervous that partypoker will experience a drop-off in cash game traffic like Full Tilt did, but Kanabar told PokerNews that they aren’t particularly worried about that:

I think the changes we are making are more fundamental that other operators have so far implemented. We are not jumping on the recreational player bandwagon, we are making these changes to benefit all poker players and of course, we hope that partypoker will also benefit in the long term by making sensible, fair and balanced changes although it’s possible we could experience a drop but we want to be brave and not sit on the fence.

And while this writer also doesn’t have a problem with certain third-party software, some like seating scripts, should most definitely be outlawed. Kanabar’s comparison to the live poker environment is quite illustrative:

If I walked into the Bellagio Poker Room in Las Vegas, I could not ask the Card Room Manager, “Who are your worst players? Can you lock me a seat up to the left of one of them? Where do I get the printout of all the hands everyone here has played over the last 6 months? When my juicy seat comes free can you give me a shout, I’m just nipping into Bobby’s Room to take some notes on the hands being played in there!”

The poker site did not give exact go-live date for the changes, but rather simply said they would be implemented “in the coming weeks.”


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