PokerStars Weeds Out Third-Party Assistance Software

Pokerstars - Player Actions

The problem with taking anything from real life and putting it online is that not everyone is going to use it the way it was originally intended, and boy oh boy, poker is absolutely no exception. This week, a landmark case has shone a light on the use of third-party assistance software at one of the biggest online poker rooms – PokerStars – and has gone as far as to cause the site to reconsider all usage of such software at its tables.

Third Party Assistance

Many regular players of online poker will be aware of third-party assistance software and some people reading this may even have utilised such software in their own games in the past. The idea behind such software is to aid players in crunching the data of hands and probabilities behind each outcome quickly, to help them come to sensible decisions about how to play.

Currently, third-party assistance software is permitted at most online poker rooms and PokerStars is no exception. The key is that this software is merely an aid to play and does not automatically make decisions for players. In laying out the statistics of each hand, the software is doing little more than the calculations carried in the heads of most decent poker players.

In PokerStar’s own words, it’s fine for players to use any data crunching tools, as long as there isn’t ‘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’. If the software is just crunching information readily available to the user, everything’s golden.


The years of this kind of software being fair game may be about to come to an end, though, and as with many cases like this, it’s that one bad apple which is going to ruin things for everyone. Recently, a new piece of third-party assistance software was introduced to the site by a user called skier_5, which PokerStars says ‘allows quick and precise reference to a very large number of static charts that cover most or all pre-flop situations‘.

PokerStars logo on black backgoundAny player wanting an edge would be rubbing their hands with glee over the prospect of such software being available, and even more so if its use was tolerated. Well, this is where the big snag comes – it turns out skier_5 is just a little TOO good. While it does keep to the rules laid down by the site, it does so only just. Other players have been quick to point out how the software can allow average to good players to become world-class.

The attention garnered by skier_5 may cause PokerStars to call a moratorium on not only its use, but the use of all third-party assistance software, in a crackdown set to level the playing field. In its statement, PokerStars pointed out that ‘While within our current rules, this software goes beyond the level of assistance we want to see software providing players in our online poker room.’ It also laid out plans to change the rules on the use of such software in order to avoid similar issues in the future.

Cleaning up Online Poker

All this certainly has echoes of MPN’s attempt to weed out the issues that arise from the use of automatic seating scripts. They can both be seen as part of a bigger move in the industry to mitigate against the unfair use of software. In essence, not only does it make it financially risky to play against someone using a computer to give them an edge, but it also removes half the fun of playing in the first place.

Poker has always been about pitting wits against wits and dedicated player are only ever going to be disappointed if software gets in the way of that. Hopefully the new rules being drafted by PokerStars will get to the bottom of the problem… that is, of course, until wits become obsolete to super intelligent computers.

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