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The administration at PokerTableRatings recently formally announced its stance on, and reaction to, the Cease and Desist letters put forth by PokerStars. As many of our readers are aware, this high-profile issue has resulted in a virtual line in the sand being drawn between poker sites that believe the sale of third-party hand histories is illegal and those who provide bulk hand history purchases such as PTR.
The latest statement by PTR shows the site is prepared to comply with PokerStars' request while seeking a different type of service to provide its customers, one that will be in line with the demands made by the world's largest online poker room.
At the heart of the dispute is the ability that many datamining sites have to seamlessly track the online poker action. Although poker database programs assist players with organizing a massive amount of information gained at the virtual tables, those programs solely track information that the player has witnessed first-hand.
PokerTableRatings' service, up until a few weeks ago, gave online poker players the ability to purchase hand histories regardless of whether or not they had actually competed in those hands. This service provided a monetary value to thousands of players, as they were able to have more statistical information on their opponents, in turn allowing them to make more educated decisions based on other players' tendencies and weaknesses.
Although the exact service that PTR plans to roll out is unclear at this time, our readers can assume it will very likely automatically "opt out" players from datamining and might even exclude third-party data purchasing altogether. PokerTableRatings representatives stated that although the staff was not quite prepared to make this drastic change to their service, they are doing so in reaction to PokerStars' demands.
PTR also mentions that it does not believe poker hand history datamining is illegal nor does it hold the opinion that its service has had a huge negative impact on the game. In response to PokerStars' Home Games Manager Lee Jones' statement that players who wish to share their results should have the right to do so, and that players who wish to maintain their right to privacy should also have that desire protected, PTR replied on its official website, "We think we can work within this stipulation."
It is important to mention that although PokerTableRatings is taking a complicit approach to Stars' request, not all similar third-party hand history sites have reacted the same way. Other sites continue to sell hand histories in bulk on a daily basis, although this could be only the first part of a long, drawn-out battle between poker rooms and websites that datamine hand histories.
Some believe that PokerStars will move on to other websites and issue more Cease and Desist letters in an attempt to curtail the third-party hand history industry. The online poker community may have to wait and see how other websites react and whether a case goes to court. The legality and ethics of third-party hand history datamining are highly debatable at the current time, with very strong opinions on both sides of the aisle.
According to PTR's official statement, customers will begin to notice "positive changes" to its product immediately and can expect to see more alterations in the next few weeks. To find out more about the changes implemented by the PTR administration, check out PokerTableRatings.com.
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