PokerStars has banned controversial third-party assistance software that until recently was being used by players at the high-stakes HUSNG tables.
The online poker giant also hinted at a wider overhaul of its third-party software rules, suggesting that the days of regs multi-tabling via their HUDS might soon be a thing of the past.
The existence of the software in question first came to light on the TwoPlusTwo forums when it was noticed that at least three players had almost identical pre-flop, flop and turn stats over a large sample size of hands.
One of the players, skier_5, revealed that he was indeed using software that he had himself created.
While he declined to reveal the precise nature of the program, he said he had submitted it to PokerStars which had vetted and approved it.
Posting in the TwoPlusTwo forum thread this week, however, “PokerStars Steve” described it as a program that “efficiently delivers relevant play recommendation charts for HUSNG.”
“Effective immediately,” said PokerStars Steve, “we are ruling that this software can no longer be used while the PokerStars client is open.”
A Bot in Chart Format
The software had originally been approved, he explained, because PokerStars terms and conditions had always allowed the use of reference charts during play.
The reasoning was that the use of charts previously had a limited impact on the game.
“Detailed charts that were complex enough to provide advice useful enough to be competitive against capable players were very limited in the breadth of situations covered, such as push-fold Nash charts for HU play,” said PokerStars Steve. “Any charts covering the game more comprehensively, such as hand grouping charts with basic strategy, were not complex enough to cause an issue for game integrity.”
Skier_5’s software, however, was a game changer, quite literally, and that’s why PokerStars has reconsidered its stance.
The program could essentially be used to “replicate the utility of a complex bot in a chart format,” according to PokerStars Steve.
“While there will be challenges with enforcement, we believe the cost of leaving this software allowable is too high.”
But PokerStars isn’t finished yet.
Regs v Recs
“I want to make completely clear that we are headed firmly toward further restrictions on third-party software in the future, said PokerStars Steve. “There is a meaningful probability that within the next year or two our policies will be significantly more restrictive … Our intent is to implement change gradually over time, ensuring that our internal detection and enforcement capabilities are able to keep up with the rules and that the community has adequate time to adjust.”
Could PokerStars really be about to ban HUDS? It’s a tricky decision. HUDS are used by the site’s biggest players, allowing them to play multiple tables at once and generate a high volume of rake.
Conversely, the knowledge that some players use the software, thereby gaining a perceived unfair edge, is scaring away the recreational players that PokerStars is so desperate to attract.
It seems that, ultimately, PokerStars must make a difficult strategic choice between regs or recs.