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Third party software has been a necessity for top poker players for years now. To hold all the data and information required for top level play, such as keeping player supdated with previous hand history and potential hands; many players use this software to play at the highest levels.
The biggest poker platforms like PartyPoker and PokerStars are bringing about massive changes to limit the use of this third party software. PokerStars in particular has taken the first step by already limiting many of the features found in this software.
PokerStar’s Third Party Software Changes
PokerStars has already made significant changes to the way it restricts third party software.
- Reference material: Information such as hand charts, now have to be “basic in nature”. Anything considered to be sophisticated in nature can no longer be used whilst the client is open
- HUDs: No permitted to display non-numerical data, categorize players or dynamically display statistics specific to a certain situation
- Hand Analysers: Programs that compute equities of various ranges of hands against one another, can no longer be used
- Game State Reporters: Can no longer automatically or semi-automatically retrieve information from an otherwise permitted reference material
- Table Selection and Seating Scripts: Can no longer time a player’s registration into a global waiting list. They must register players into specific tables or tournaments
The first three of these changes directly affects the gameplay itself. Many high level players would claim that the staggering amount of data and probabilities involved in poker, requires them to have access to this information in both an immediate and streamlined method. With the latest changes made to third party software policy, these benefits will no longer be allowed to take place within games hosted by PokerStars.
Many players make a living off playing poker and so to many these are seen as devastating changes to the game. What consequences this will have on PokerStar’s player base is yet to be seen. They’re certainly making huge steps in making the game fair for all skill levels of player, by removing the advantages that pro players invest the time in implementing.
High level players always have the ability to migrate to other poker game hosts, so it’ll be interesting to see if players remain for the base game that PokerStars will offer from now on, or seek poker hosts with more liberal third party software support.
PartyPoker Announced Changes
PartyPoker haven’t implemented any of their changes as of yet, unlike PokerStars. But they have recently announced their upcoming changes as an initiative known as”Poker for the People”. These changes will be rolled out into their service across the next few weeks.
- Players will be able to view the last 12 months of their own hand histories, but they will no longer be able to download histories or save them to a local device
- Players that wish to wait for a cash game will join a room-wide waiting list and be randomly invited when a seat matching their preference becomes available
- Players joining a cash game will see the names of opponents once, when their first hand is dealt
PartyPoker’s changes are much less gameplay affecting than PokerStars. PartyPoker’s changes appear to be controlling the allocation of player’s in terms of ranking, as well as making sure players must keep all data within their own servers. There seems to be much more attempt to regulate the poker players rather than restrict any strategical play using third party software.
PartyPoker have said they want to provide a fair service amongst all their customers for professionals and novices alike. This is the entire motive behind their updated regulations. For the moment they appear to only want to bring about this improved fairness, by allocating their players into stricter ranked matches.
The thinking behind this may very well be that they are aware that high ranking players all use third party software to improve their game, so rather than stopping their high level players from doing so, they simply make sure they don’t have an advantage over lower tier players; by separating them.
Third party software has become a serious issue within the poker community as of late. The problem centres around how to handle the increasing schism growing between different skill levels among their customer base. PartyPoker and PokerStars have both taken drastically different methods of solving this issue.
Whilst PokerStars appears to be controlling the data which third party software benefits their players with, PartyPoker’s method is to simply separate their players based on skill and so keep all their players playing the way they have previously; but within their own ranks.
PartyPoker’s method certainly seems to be trying to keep the players happy, in comparison to PokerStar’s more direct regulation.
It’ll be a matter of time before we see which method wins out. It’s certain that these strategies will have huge effects on their player base. Whichever approach causes the least kickback, may go on to shape the way the industry handles third party software into the future. It’ll certainly be interesting to see the outcome.
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