PokerStars Makes Drastic Changes to Software Policy

Date: 2015-10-02
Author: Jason Glatzer

PokerStars recently announced major changes to its policies concerning third-party software.  Many pieces of software that were previously allowed under the site's terms of service will now either be restricted or prohibited.
Over on TwoPlusTwo, PokerStars Sit and Go and Tournament Manager Baard Dahl outlined the changes to the online poker room's policies to the poker community.  He first shared that all reference material used while playing on PokerStars must be "basic in nature."
However, perhaps the biggest change to members of the poker community at large was the announcement concerning what is and isn't allowed in HUDs.  "HUDs are no longer permitted to display non-numerical data, categorize players, or dynamically display statistics specific to a certain situation," Dahl shared. "Hand or situation analyzers such as programs that compute equities of various ranges of hands against one another can no longer be used whilst the client is open."
Related to this, PokerStars will also be only allowing two different thresholds per stat for color-coding purposes, or three colors in total.
Other software companies also reacted to this change already.  ProPokerHUDs emailed its customer base saying that players can download a new six-max cash HUD to comply with the new color-coding rules.
Another restriction may cause some in-game poker calculator providers to scramble.  Dahl explained, "Game state reporters can no longer automatically or semi-automatically retrieve information from an otherwise permitted reference material. For example, tools can no longer notify an end-user that their starting hand lies in Group 1 of a statically defined grouping of hands."
While this doesn't necessarily state that in-game calculators themselves are prohibited, many of them are programmed to group hands together to make things easier for their players.
To the surprise of some players, software that automates the betting size based on specific conditions will no longer be allowed.  In other words, software such as Table Ninja and Table Optimizer that allow automated preset betting in more advanced situations may need to be modified in order to remain compliant.  For example, this software can be programmed for many situations, including automatically setting up your betting size if you have a limper in front of you in a pre-flop situation.  The software can even be more advanced than that.
Some players feel that all this will accomplish is either forcing players to either play fewer tables or take more time per table slowing down the action without really solving much.
However, a change just about every poker player can be pleased about is that PokerStars will no longer allow seating scripts to automatically add players to waiting lists.  The poker site also shared that it is going to look into prohibiting seating scripts in their entirety.
While seating scripts are still allowed to some degree, there is one notable exception to this that Dahl pointed out, with seating scripts for lottery-style SNGs no longer being allowed.  He specifically called out SpinWiz as being strictly prohibited on PokerStars.
These changes will not affect the majority of players on PokerStars who use third-party software and were believed to have been in the works for a while.  It is also believed by many in the poker community that two incidents earlier in the year were in no small part helping pushing the online poker room's third-party software policy changes along.
For some quick background, the first issue related to PokerStars player Skier_5 creating a tool to help him dominate SNGs.  Many in the poker community believed this tool went too far by automating decisions for players who took advantage of this tool.

Later in the year, the poker community became widely aware of a Pot Limit Omaha bot ring in which players were able to extract what is believed to be approximately $1.5 million from unsuspecting poker players, primarily on PokerStars.
In June 2015, PokerStars Poker Room Manager Steve Day asked in the same TwoPlusTwo where the thread the most recent changes were announced for the poker community's opinions on some proposed changes.  For the most part, these changes are not too much different than what was actually going to be implemented.
One month later, Day thanked everyone for their input and informed players that their input was valuable and changes would be made in the near future.  It is believed that PokerStars needed a little more time to decide how to implement changes and also wanted to give some of the third-party software providers some warning.

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