PokerStars Changing its Stance on Third-Party Software

Date: 2015-06-17
Author: Jason Glatzer

In the last month, PokerStars has had two major issues causing concern among players involving third-party software.  The first was PokerStars player Skier_5 developing an aid to assist players in heads-up sit and gos.  At the time, PokerStars permitted this software since it didn't violate its terms of service even though it provided players who used it a huge advantage over the typical player.
More recently, a PLO bot ring was uncovered at PokerStars that reportedly won $1.4 million from unsuspecting players.  While bots were never legal at PokerStars, this news has caused major outrage from many of players, especially on the TwoPlusTwo forum where it was publicized.
In response to both of these issues, PokerStars Steve proposed on TwoPlusTwo that some huge changes to its terms of services were coming, potentially prohibiting many types of programs.   Assuming there are no delays or change of heart by PokerStars, the following types of software will be prohibited as of June 21:
1) Tools that share hole card data between players.
2) Software operating off a centralized database of player profiles.
3) Tools that reduce the need for human intervention such as a bot or auto-folder.
4) Observing tables for the purpose of data-mining.
5) Tools that provide real-time advice based off the current state of play.
Additionally, PokerStars plans to restrict other third-party software running while its poker client is open including tools that provide advanced equity calculations as well as reference material that goes beyond a basic level such as stack-sized-based starting tables, decision trees, and HUDs that dynamically change based off player actions or card values.
The good news for those of you using in-game poker odds calculators such as PokerTableStats and Hold'em Indicator is that these changes will continue to permit the use of these poker tools.  Additionally, HUDs, even many advanced ones, will still be legal, including those running on PokerTracker and Hold'em Manager.
However, PokerStars announced that other tools may have to make changes in order to be compliant.  NoteCaddy, which is part of the Hold'em Manager 2 suite, emailed its customers urging them to express their opinions to PokerStars.

"A few days ago, a representative of PokerStars announced potential rule changes that could add severe limitations to what we can use in our HUDs.  It is my feeling that online poker as it is today is a level playing field for all players.  By having advanced tools available publicly and for a low cost, everyone from micro-stakes to high-stakes players can benefit openly."

It added, "Limiting what we can use would create an environment where some users with large amounts of resources could circumvent these rules quite easily.  Having poker software available benefits players who are willing to put in effort to study and improve their play.  Creating more arbitrary and unenforceable rules only hurts those of us who wish to play by the rules."

We'll keep you posted on the latest.

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