How to Opt Out of Third-Party Tracking Sites on PokerStars

Date: 2012-03-30
Author: David Huber

In early March, posters on online poker forums began discussing the ability PokerStars players have to opt out of third-party tracking sites such like Sharkscope and Official Poker Rankings. PokerStars has long had a policy of clamping down on sites that gather third-party information for players to use. This new feature from PokerStars is yet another step towards protecting players from having their personal stats datamined.

Quite a bit of discussion related to PokerStars' new opt out policy has taken place on major poker forums like PocketFives and TwoPlusTwo, featuring a substantial amount of confusion over which sites and services are blanketed in the opt out feature.

First off, any player on PokerStars who wishes to opt out of third-party tracking software may do so by sending $0.01 to the PokerStars account "ResultSites," with the penny being refundable within seven days. It is also worth noting that players can opt back in by sending $0.03 to the same account name.

Although this will allow a player to have his or her stats removed from sites that in some form cooperate with PokerStars' privacy policy regarding third-party tracking software, it will not remove a person's stats from database program HUDs nor will it prevent an individual's statistics from being tracked via mass hand history purchases. The confusion over the level of anonymity has been at the forefront of discussion on various poker forums, and PokerSoftware readers should be aware that PokerStars is not offering any version of "anonymous tables."

Professional and casual players alike have debated online poker player privacy for years. On one hand, there is a considerable number of players who believe that a player's statistical privacy should be protected by only allowing competitors to compile information from opponents in hands that they've actually participated in. These services include Holdem Manager and PokerTracker. The databases only provide information that the player has already seen and are generally white listed on major online poker rooms.

However, a number of datamining sites allow millions of hand histories to be purchased in bulk, which in turn grants savvy online poker players the ability to gather much larger databases based on hands that they did not participate in.

While there are valid points on both sides of the coin when it comes to whether mass datamining should be allowed, the only successful way sites have been able to provide their players with true anonymous play so far is by allowing frequent screen name changes.

The result of this policy, however, is that information that could assist the online poker community in identifying collusion or super users would no longer be detectable. If it hadn't been for online poker tracking software a few years ago, for example, the Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet cheats would have likely been able to take advantage of viewing other players' hole cards for much longer.

Whether or not more sites will ultimately make their players anonymous to other programs remains to be seen. For any reader who would like further clarification on PokerStars' new opt out policy regarding third-party tracking sites, e-mail PokerStars will also provide users with a list of third-party tracking sites that will be automatically excluded from publishing statistical-based information once a player officially opts out by sending $0.01 to the PokerStars account mentioned above.

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