PokerStars Changes Stance on SharkScope Again

Date: 2008-11-14
Author: Dan Cypra

If you’re a regular patron on PokerStars, then you know that the online poker room recently changed its stance regarding SharkScope… again. After receiving largely negative feedback from its member base, PokerStars has changed its policy from prohibiting the use of SharkScope and the SharkScope HUD by players at all times to just while PokerStars is running. It was a subtle, but still noticeable change to the poker room’s policy.

In an e-mail sent to concerned players, PokerStars stated two reasons why it opposes sites like SharkScope that display a player’s revenue: “Firstly, many of our players simply don't want their ROI information to be publicly available. They have a right to privacy of this information. Secondly, it gives an unfair advantage to those players who are able to obtain ROI data about players who have not consented for their information to be shown.” SharkScope allows players to opt out simply by filling out a form online and then clicking an activation link in an e-mail. The e-mail is not used for any other purposes besides this process.

With regards to SharkScope forcing players to opt out rather than allow them to opt in, PokerStars stated, “SharkScope has refused to remove player profitability and ROI data by default and therefore their service now falls into the category of prohibited for use in conjunction with the PokerStars Client.” The room’s decision led and its corresponding HUD to be banned at all times. Because both SharkScope and PokerStars are two of the largest companies in their respective industries, the latter received a flurry of e-mails from members complaining that they had received e-mails from Stars warning them not to use SharkScope. Many of these players were either unaware of the new ban or didn’t have SharkScope open for use on Stars.

PokerStars used a “periodic query to Windows” in order to ascertain whether someone with the PokerStars software open was also connected to SharkScope. Those who had both running received “warning e-mails.” As expected, an online poker room that monitors what other programs are open on a player’s computer besides PokerStars generated a harsh response. In turn, PokerStars changed abruptly its policy: “Consequently, even though PokerStars does not monitor players' internet browsing habits, we have decided to disable and completely remove this feature of our software to avoid even the slightest perception of privacy breaches.”

To be clear, SharkScope is still prohibited while the PokerStars software is running. In the e-mail sent to concerned PokerStars members, Stars claimed, “SharkScope will remain a prohibited service... We ask that players do not use it at all in conjunction with PokerStars - the website, the HUD, or any other future tools that they might develop.” PokerStars announced that it would instead turn its enforcement efforts to making it difficult for SharkScope to obtain the results of sit and go tournaments. The IP-based enforcement tool is now all but a memory.

PokerStars told that "whether you are in a game or not, you may not visit the SharkScope web page if the PokerStars client is loaded."

Therefore, players will no longer be the targets of action by PokerStars. Rather, SharkScope itself will now don a target on its back. However, it appears as if PokerStars ultimately trusts its players to comply, as it has eliminating one of its main enforcement measures. It remains to be seen how effective this strategy will be and whether the use of SharkScope will persist en masse on the virtual felts of PokerStars.

To say that SharkScope has accumulated a plethora of online tournament results would be an understatement. Check out the stats on the number of sit and go tournaments that the site has logged on each of the major online poker rooms and networks:

PokerStars – 63.9 million
Full Tilt Poker – 41.5 million
Ongame – 21.8 million
iPoker – 14.2 million
Pacific Poker – 9.7 million
CryptoLogic – 7.4 million
IPN – 6.1 million
Everest Poker – 3.7 million
Cake Poker – 2.9 million
Svenska Spel – 2.9 million
PKR – 2.2 million
Merge – 1.6 million
PartyPoker – 885,000
Betfair – 521,000
Sky Poker – 479,000

Besides SharkScope, other programs are also prohibited while PokerStars is running. They include Insight Poker Hound, PokerStrategy ICM Trainer, SAGE Decision Calculator, Sit n’ Go End Game Tools, SitnGo Wizard, SNG Power Tools, Spade ICM, and STT Analyzer by PokerSoftwareTools.

To learn more about and SharkScope HUD, check out our review right here on

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