PartyPoker Also Making Major Changes to Software Policy

Date: 2015-10-05
Author: Jason Glatzer

On October 1, PartyPoker announced it will be prohibiting poker tracking databases including HUDs, seating scripts, and just about any other third-party software that was previously acceptable.  The timeline: within the next few weeks.
In a press release sent to PokerSoftware, we were informed that as part of the Poker for the People campaign, PartyPoker is making these drastic changes in hopes that they will "level the playing field for all players."
The most major change will be that you will no longer be able to use a poker tracking database or a HUD on the site.  PartyPoker actually went a step further here, as you will also no longer be able to download hand histories.
It is speculated that PartyPoker took this extra step since poker tracking software relies on hand history files in order to populate databases.  However, in this author's opinion, without players being able to review hand history files, more cheating and collusion could happen.  It doesn't take someone with too long of a memory to remember the superuser scandal uncovered at Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker with the help of hand history files.
More recently, it is believed that hand history files help alert the poker community to a Russian PLO bot ring on PokerStars that is believed to have taken unsuspecting players for seven-figures.
Players will still have the opportunity to review their own play in a cruder manner by heading to the "Missions" section in the software and reviewing hands from up to the past 12 months.  This might uncover collusion or cheating that occurred in one particular tournament, but won't help find patterns of cheating to help uncover bigger scandals.  It will also make it harder for players to improve their game without being able to use third-party review tools.
If PartyPoker believes that HUDs are too powerful, there are other ways to combat it without taking away hand histories.  First, it is doubtful that the mass-market producers of HUDs will continue to provide support for a site that has asked not to.  Key employees at more than one software company have told me as much in the past.

Obviously poker players would still be able to use underground HUDs; however, this author believes the technology might already be there that doesn't rely on hand histories to populate a poker tracking database and HUD.  If it isn't there now, there is a strong reason now for a minority of players to do so in order to obtain a significant advantage.  That being said, it would eliminate the use of HUDs by most of the site's players.
Secondly, PartyPoker can take a page out of Microgaming's book.  The network just implemented changes to allow players to change their screen names the sooner of one month or 1,000 real money hands.  This basically makes a HUD much less valuable since players can't track a significant sample size on opponents.  It also makes seating scripts far less effective.  The upside here is that players can still import hands into their poker tracking database for analysis.
A change that most players, including this author, can get behind however is PartyPoker combatting the power of seating scripts by making all tables random.  Players will now select the stakes and games they wish to play and be randomly seated after being on a waiting list.
Another change to combat seating scripts and HUDs that this author doesn't have a strong opinion about one way or the other is that in ring games, players will only be able to see the screen names of their opponents after the first cards are dealt.
PartyPoker isn't the only site making changes in reaction to a perceived uproar by the online poker community about how powerful software can be.  PokerStars just announced changes to prohibit or restrict some advanced software.  This followed similar changes at Full Tilt.

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