PokerStars Preparing to Ban Seating Scripts, Speed Up Pace of Play in Cash Games

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PokerStars is planning to make significant changes to its policy on third-party tools, including implementing a ban on all seating scripts that try to seek out optimal seats through player profiling.

PokerStars cash games
PokerStars is implementing new rules that will prohibit the use of seating scripts and speed up the pace of play at cash game tables. (Image: PokerStars)

Most seating script programs work in a similar fashion, using statistics gathered from previous sessions in order to build profiles on opponents, then seating users at the softest tables possible.

Developers Say Changes Coming March 1

While players who use programs like Seat Mojo, Need4Seat, and TableScan Turbo may see the programs as a way to simplify table selection that they would be doing manually anyway, sites like PokerStars and many players see them as exploitative.

“In order to continue to protect our players and enhance the overall experience, in the coming months we will be introducing a range of changes to our Third Party Tools & Services policy, which we will communicate ahead of time,” a spokesperson for PokerStars told Poker Industry Pro. That spokesperson also confirmed that a prohibition on seating scripts would be among the changes implemented.

According to a report by Pokerfuse, developers of several major third-party tools have said that they have been informed that the new rules will be coming into effect on March 1. Some of these providers have already made public announcements outlining how they will be adapting to these changes.

“To cut a long story short, any software that simplifies the user’s table-selection, based on data about individual players at the table, will be prohibited,” Need4Seat wrote on its website. “This not only includes tools that automate the seating process, but also those that sort or open tables based on individual player criteria.”

According to Need4Seat, the developer is working on a new version of the seating software that will be compliant with the new rules by avoiding using any information or statistics from individual players in the seating process.

Less Time to Act in Cash Games

The new rules on third-party software aren’t the only changes coming to cash games on PokerStars in the near future. In a Wednesday blog post, Stars Group director of poker innovation and operation Severin Rasset announced that PokerStars would be significantly speeding up its ring games by reducing the amount of time players have to act.

According to Rasset, the poker room conducted trials in which that reduced the Time to Act in cash games to see what kind of impact they would have.

“If they did have an effect, we wanted to be sure it was a sustainable and positive one,” Rasset wrote. “Our priority is always to create a safe and fair environment to play in whilst giving players as much freedom as we can.”

Under the new rules, which go into effect on Feb. 5, the pre-flop time to act will be reduced from 18 seconds to 10 seconds, while the time to act post-flop (or pre-flop when facing a raise) will drop from 25 seconds to 15 seconds. Meanwhile, the maximum time bank for players has been reduced from 10 minutes to just one minute, and only 30 seconds in pre-flop situations.

This isn’t the first time that PokerStars has made changes to its cash game tables, sometimes rolling out new ideas only in certain markets. In some jurisdictions, a “seat me” feature automatically places players at a table at the chosen stakes level with an opening, eliminating game selection entirely. In Italy, the site has also experimented with capping the number of cash games tables a user may play on simultaneously.

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