Mar 13, 2019
PokerStars Bans Seating Scripts & Automated Reference Materials
By RTR Dennis
PokerStars has banned multiple third-party software tools as of March 4. Their new policy is specifically aimed at seating scripts and automated “reference materials.”
This move is big on two fronts. On one hand, it takes away certain tools that serious players find useful. However, this policy change also figures to make PokerStars friendlier to recreational players.
Keep reading to find out more on why these changes were made along with their long-term implications.
PokerStars Wants to Create an Even Playing Field
Severin Rasset, director of innovation and poker operations at Stars, noted that third-party tools have always given certain parties advantages over opponents.
While anybody can use these tools, skilled players are often the ones who utilize third-party software to gain an even bigger edge. Writing through his PokerStars blog, Rasset explained that certain programs are no longer welcome:
“Third party tools are always an interesting topic in this debate On the one hand, there are legitimate and useful tools out there that can help players to train, get better and enjoy the depth of the game. On the other hand, there are tools that provide their users with sometimes small and other times clear advantages over others, undermining the spirit of the game.
“Our goal is to ensure that the same rules and standards apply to everyone. Some of the latter set of tools, like bots, have been banned for as long as PokerStars has existed and we take great pride in our efforts and ability to try to ensure that our environment is free of them.
“[...] For PokerStars, my vision is to limit as much as possible the use of tools that artificially enhance the process of sitting down to play, and play itself. Tools that can give players an edge over others and which detract from the journey of developing the skills necessary to become a better poker player. That's why we're going to implement further restrictions to the use of third-party tools.”
Ban on Seating Scripts should be Welcome at PokerStars
Seating scripts are largely unpopular in the online poker community. These programs are specifically designed to help players find tables with weaker opponents. They lead to widespread bumhunting, where experienced players continually take advantage of fish.
Rasset and PokerStars have joined the poker community in their disdain for this software. They’ve therefore decided to ban “any tool or service that sorts available games or (semi-) automates the process of joining games.”
Players used to rely solely on lobby statistics for game-selection purposes. It appears that this may be the case again at Stars, with seating scripts now eliminated.
Automated Reference Materials Now Out Too
Online poker players are certainly allowed to use starting hand charts to help guide what cards they play in each table position. Starting hand charts have long been an acceptable strategy resource. However, PokerStars no longer wants players using reference materials that can automatically make decisions.
Rasset defines banned programs as those that offer “(semi-) automated reference material to the user while the PokerStars client is running is prohibited.” The tools are only allowed to advise players on “what hand combinations to play or not play in an unopened pot, and only for pre-flop decisions.”
Why Is PokerStars Implementing These Changes?
Many other online poker sites have already made changes in an effort to protect recreational players. PokerStars has slowly made similar moves, although they’ve been more liberal in allowing third-party software.
So why the sudden changes now? Rasset emphasized that Stars is looking for ways to offer a “safe and fair environment and to improve the overall experience when a customer chooses to play with us.”
In other words, PokerStars doesn’t want recreational players feeling hopeless just because they don’t want to spend time learning third-party software tools.
What Strategy Tools are Still Acceptable at PokerStars?
Stars isn’t completely banning every type of third-party tool from their site. They’re still going to allow the following:
- Programs that report basic stats, like absolute hand strength or pot odds.
- Basic reference materials, such as table-based starting hand charts with no automation.
- Heads-up Displays (HUDs) that only offer in-game statistics observed through your own play.
- Macros and Hotkey programs that make for more efficient gameplay with no automation.