Top Five Poker Software Stories of 2015

Date: 2015-12-28
Author: Jason Glatzer

There are just a few more days to go before 2015 is in the books and the world rings in a new year.  During the past year, the biggest poker software stories were mostly related to changes made by poker clients.  However, some of this was a reaction to other big stories relating to third party software.
Here is a look at our top five poker software stories of 2015.
Microgaming Allows Frequent Screen Name Changes
In late September 2015, the Microgaming Network changed its policy to allow screen name changes the sooner of 1,000 real money hands or 30 days.  The new rules were introduced to reduce the effectiveness of seat scripting software and HUDs.  This, along with a story that just missed our list involving some changes on Full Tilt Poker, were the beginning of some bigger changes made on other sites later in the year.
PokerStars Prohibits Advanced Third-Party Software
After many months of discussion and input from the poker community, the world's largest real money online poker room, PokerStars, implemented drastic changes to its third-party software policies during the fourth quarter of the year.  The biggest changes were to prohibit some of the features in advanced HUDs.  It was believed that this was in response to an incident with a heads-up player where he was, at the time, deemed to be legally using home-developed aids to allow him to dominate the games.  We'll cover this in a minute, as this incident made #3 on our list.
These changes are believed to just be the beginning, as PokerStars has made numerous references to its plans to introduce more restrictive third-party software policy changes during 2016.
Automated Decision Software Helps Player Dominate Heads-Up SNGs
During the early part of 2015, a PokerStars player with the screen name Skier_5 designed a controversial software aid to help him dominate heads-up sit and gos.  While this in itself might not be an issue, what caused this to become a huge issue in the poker world is that the aids were reportedly providing automated assistance based on the current game state.
PokerStars investigated the use of these aids and mentioned that they were legal under the current third-party software policies.  However, thanks to the changes PokerStars made to its policies later in the year, this is no longer the case.
Russian Bot Ring Wins an Estimated $1.4 Million
Pot Limit Omaha was deemed by many to be a game too complicated for bots to be able to win at.  However, this year we learned differently, as a bot ring used by players in Russia and Kazakhstan were able to fleece players for about $1.4 million.
It isn't known how much of this money was confiscated by PokerStars and other sites where the play took place and how much was returned to players who were affected.
PartyPoker Bans HUDs
The biggest poker software story of the year is PartyPoker implementing huge changes to its software policies near the end of the year.  The site has completely banned the use of HUDs and seating scripts as well.
This wasn't a matter of just asking the major software providers to cease supporting PartyPoker; they also are now preventing players from downloading hand histories.
While PartyPoker is not the first network to embark on doing this, it is certainly the biggest.  The trend is somewhat worrying since if players don't have the ability to download hand histories, many of the game's detectives won't have access to enough data to uncover cheating issues such as the bot ring earlier in the year that was mostly on PokerStars or the even bigger scandal that took place many years ago on Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet.

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