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Old 06-11-2015, 10:55 AM   #1
PokerStars Steve
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3rd Party Software on PokerStars: Proposed Rule Changes

As evidenced by recent forum discussion, the topic of third-party software in online poker is a highly complex and contentious issue. As new software is developed, we must keep our rules enforcement up to date and also consider when rules need to be changed.

A developer recently shared new software with us for evaluation and we informed him that the software was allowable. The decision was based around the premise that static reference material that does not change depending on action in the hand, or any other variable, is permitted. This rule was initially designed some years ago so that Nash charts and other similar documents would be permitted to be referenced while playing.

The software we reviewed allows quick and precise reference to a very large number of static charts that cover most or all preflop situations. While within our current rules, this software goes beyond the level of assistance we want to see software providing players in our online poker room.

As a result, we are strongly considering changing our current policies (https://www.pokerstars.com/poker/room/prohibited/ ) to the following:

Quote:
Originally Posted by New PokerStars Rule Proposal
Q. In general, what kind of tools and services are acceptable?

A. The following types of tools and services are generally acceptable:
1. Tools and services that simply report basic game state information, such as pot odds or absolute hand strength.
2. Tools and services that are static reference material and basic in nature, such as a single table-based starting hand chart.
3. Tools and services that profile your opponents, but make use of only information which you have accumulated through your own play.
4. Macros and Hotkey programs that don’t have any bearing on gameplay logic. For example, you can use AutoHotKey, MacroExpress or AutoIt3 to make it such that you ‘bet the pot’ when you press the 'P' key, but you cannot use these or other utilities to create an autofolder that folds poor starting hands, or that automates advice or actions from any other tool or service.

Q. In general, what kinds of tools and services are prohibited at all times?

A. The following types of tools and services are prohibited at all times:
1. Any tool or service that shares hole card data with other players or services is colluding, and is prohibited.
______i. Hosting live streams on Twitch and other similar services is not considered as sharing hole card data.
2. Any tool or service that works off of a central database of player profiles, hands played or private results is prohibited.
3. Any tool or service that plays without human intervention (a ‘bot’) or reduces the requirement of a human playing. For instance, an ‘auto-folder’ is prohibited.
4. The practice of datamining (observing games without playing in order to build up a database of hand histories for future reference) is prohibited.
5. Any tool or service that offers real-time commentary or advice on the current game state that goes beyond reporting data and statistics.

Q. In general, what kinds of tools and services are prohibited only whilst the client is open?

A. The following types of tools and services are prohibited only whilst the client is open:
1. Any tool or reference material that offers commentary or advice that goes beyond a basic level, such as stack-size-based starting hand tables, decision trees or heads-up displays that dynamically change based on player action or card values.
2. Any tool or service that computes advanced equity calculations, such as range vs range simulators, ICM or Nash Equilibrium-based programs.
If these changes are implemented, the recently reviewed software in question would no longer be allowed to be used while the client is open. The rule that would affect this software is identified by italics.

Other programs would also be affected. The following are examples of other tools that would no longer be allowed to be used while the PokerStars client is open:

• SessionLord’s Preflop Chart
• Holy Grail of Poker
• Poker Academy
• HEM2’s LeakBuster
• FlopZilla
• Odds Oracle
• PokerStove
• NoteCaddy as is would require changes. It is permissible for HUDs to filter / drill down via street, but not by action facing or hole card / communicate card values.
• PT4’s Leak Tracker

This is by no means a complete list, but a starting point to demonstrate what consequences the proposed changes would be.

Before implementing any new rules, we would like to hear from you, the players, as to what you think about the proposed changes. We will give you a period of 10 days for you to discuss and share opinions before we make a final decision.

For complete clarity, this does not mean that we will aim exclusively to make the decision that we think will be most popular in this forum. We are far more likely to be swayed by quality reasoning than by number of players sharing an opinion. If you wish to impact the decision, I encourage you to share not only your preferred outcome but also your reasoning.

If changes end up being made, there is likely to be a grace period for existing programs to be modified in order to comply with the new rules.

*

Edit/MH:
Quote:
Originally Posted by PokerStars Steve View Post
Apologies! This is the section that should be in italics:

1. Any tool or reference material that offers commentary or advice that goes beyond a basic level, such as stack-size-based starting hand tables, decision trees or heads-up displays that dynamically change based on player action or card values.
Edit/BF:

Quote:
Originally Posted by PokerStars Steve View Post
After thorough consideration of the input here and a lengthy internal discussion, we’ve decided to move forward in principle with the changes proposed in the OP. We still have some decisions to make regarding final wording and also to make sure we are comfortable with our detection and enforcement capability. In the meantime we will be in touch with some software developers regarding their existing applications to clarify which features might violate the upcoming rules so that they will have time to make the appropriate changes.

There is one immediate change to announce. The catalyst for this conversation was a particular piece of software that efficiently delivers relevant play recommendation charts for HUSNG. Effective immediately, we are ruling that this software can no longer be used while the PokerStars client is open.

In the past we had always allowed charts to be used for reference during play. A primary reason was that a player could simply print out a chart and we would not be able to detect it. Another was that the charts in use were limited in their 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. 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.

This new software framework could be used to replicate the utility of a complex bot in a chart format. It has greatly advanced the efficiency of chart retrieval and presentation to the point where we must take action. While there will be challenges with enforcement, we believe the cost of leaving this software allowable is too high.

I want to make completely clear that we are headed firmly toward further restrictions on 3rd party software in the future. There is a meaningful probability that within the next year or two our policies will be significantly more restrictive than even the proposal in the OP. 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.

I do not have anything to share about how far we might go in the future in our restriction of 3rd party software. We will continue to consider and evaluate additional information and input prior to making each and every decision.

Thanks to all who provided their thoughts and input on this topic.
Further Edit/BF:

Quote:
Originally Posted by PokerStars Baard View Post
Hello all,

As most of you know, there has been a lot of discussion lately regarding our third party software policies. This post is made with intention of giving a detailed summary of the main changes that we have made to these policies. We are aware that these points have already been posted in this thread, but for clarity's sake, we are posting them again:

Summary of changes
  • Reference material, such as starting hand charts, now have to be “basic in nature”. Anything considered to be sophisticated in nature can no longer be used whilst the client is open.
  • HUDs are no longer permitted to display non-numerical data, categorize players or dynamically display statistics specific to a certain situation.
  • Hand or Situation Analysers, such as programs that compute equities of various ranges of hands against one another, can no longer be used whilst the client is open.
  • 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.
  • Table Selection and Seating Scripts can no longer time a player’s registration into a global waiting list. They must register players into specific tables or tournaments.

If you would like to access to more details and clarification, you can download the Third Party Tools and Services Policy Reference Guide that we provide for software developers.

Consequences of these changes

We would like to draw your attention to the last point above, and from page 31 of the reference guide:

Quote:
However, tools that are based on a prohibited data source or are targeted towards either playing against or avoiding specific players in game offerings whereby they are unable to select or register to a specific table are prohibited.
The game type where ‘players are unable to select or register to a specific table’ is, of course a reference to the Spin & Go tournaments. And as a result of this policy change, effective October 1st, SpinWiz and other related software that is aimed at game selection in these games, will be prohibited.

The main reason for this decision is that one of the most significant features of Spin & Gos is that there is no game selection and that it should be random who you play against. Software of the type we are now banning systematically bypasses this feature to the detriment of those who are not using the software. Some might also see this as disingenuous towards the thousands of players who go into these games thinking that it is entirely random who they are drawn to play against.

In accordance with our usual procedure, our first objective will be to educate people who do not realise that this form of software is now prohibited. Consequently, we will have sent a notification of these rule changes to players who we know have been using such software in the recent past. None of these players have broken any of our rules, but we want to make sure that everyone has first-hand information so that they do not inadvertently end up in a situation where they break the rules in the future.

Moving forward

While seat-selection programs will be prohibited in Spin & Gos, we are not changing our policy towards generic seating scripts at this time. However, we want to strongly emphasize ‘at this time’.

Whilst our historical stance has always been to permit these tools due to the fact that they do not include any gameplay logic directly, we have never been fans of their existence due to the impact it has had on the game selection process. As these tools have continued to evolve and their impact is felt more and more, we are going to be looking at prohibiting all seating scripts in the future once this round of revisions has settled down and we are able to discuss the most effective solutions to limit their ongoing usage.

In short, we feel our policy towards the use of third party tools and services must remain fluid and adapt to the increasing level of sophistication of external tools for the overall betterment of the online poker ecology. We believe this stance is evident with these impending changes.

How long it will take to find the best solution to these issues is an open question. The process is in motion, and if you have input and ideas on this topic, we would be very happy to hear from you.

Datamining

This is another issue that is very much a concern to us, and lately we have been able to make some progress in stopping the sites that are involved in this activity. On September 1st, we implemented a feature that was directed at stopping datamining in the Zoom games, and the time of writing this, it seems that the feature works the way it was intended.

As for our other games, we are currently working on finding solutions that will have the same effect. One of the challenges is that different games needs to be treated differently, but we are hopeful that we will be able to make further progress on this towards new year and beyond.

We will leave it at this for now, but will keep an eye on the thread, and try to come back to you on a regular basis to reply to your questions. We do not want to create expectations that we cannot keep, so I would think that something like a monthly Q & A post is what we will aim to do. However, if there are questions that are particularly urgent or easy to reply to, we might come back with an answer sooner.

In these Q & A posts, we will also give you information on decisions that have been made on specific points of programs and tools since the previous post. Hopefully, this will give you a good understanding of our process on these issues. We would like to emphasize, however, that the proper channel of communication regarding Third Party Tools, is still via email to support@pokerstars.com. You will be helped much faster by writing to support, than posting a question in this thread.

Thanks,
Baard

Last edited by Bobo Fett; 10-03-2015 at 06:33 AM.
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Old 06-11-2015, 11:19 AM   #2
mullion
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Re: 3rd Party Software on PokerStars: Proposed Rule Changes

Are you emailing your player base with the same question?

I imagine most of the stars player base do not read these forums, and a higher than average percentage of players from 2+2 would like not to have rule changes.
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Old 06-11-2015, 11:26 AM   #3
TimStone
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Re: 3rd Party Software on PokerStars: Proposed Rule Changes

BOOOOOOOOM.

GOODBYE NOTECADDY
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Old 06-11-2015, 11:26 AM   #4
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Re: 3rd Party Software on PokerStars: Proposed Rule Changes

this will be interesting...
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Old 06-11-2015, 11:31 AM   #5
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Re: 3rd Party Software on PokerStars: Proposed Rule Changes

Yes please, to all of the above.
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Old 06-11-2015, 11:35 AM   #6
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Re: 3rd Party Software on PokerStars: Proposed Rule Changes

Good decision!
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Old 06-11-2015, 11:40 AM   #7
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Re: 3rd Party Software on PokerStars: Proposed Rule Changes

this would be good
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Old 06-11-2015, 11:41 AM   #8
PaulyJames200x
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Re: 3rd Party Software on PokerStars: Proposed Rule Changes

How about you ban every software besides Holdem manager and pokertracker?

Thus ban Huds as well.
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Old 06-11-2015, 11:45 AM   #9
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Re: 3rd Party Software on PokerStars: Proposed Rule Changes

yes, great news, now reduce rake and we are good to go.
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Old 06-11-2015, 11:49 AM   #10
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Re: 3rd Party Software on PokerStars: Proposed Rule Changes

This ultimately comes down to a business decision from Pstars perspective. If it had anything to do with morals/ethics etc. 80% of the allowed software would never have been permitted in the first place.

Pokerstars should ask themselves these questions in regards to the people who use advanced software.

Are they in general winning players?
Would a reduction in software make these players go elsewhere?
If they stayed would their volume decrease?
How much would their winrates be decreased by?

Does the current allowed software make non users switch game types that are less profitable for Pokerstars?
Does allowing 3rd party software make users switch sites away from Amaya?
Does the current allowed software discourage potential new players from joining the site... i.e how many of these people are aware that 3rd party software exists?

I'm sure there are more relevant questions but that's a few.
A decent example for why 3rd party software and seating scripts should be seriously reduced is a player like myself. For 6 years I was content grinding cash tables and paying good rake in the process. Now I play a different game format and make the same amount from winning at the tables as opposed to rakeback and the result is I pay less than 3% of the rake that I used to.
I'm still a winner... but you guys don't get your cut. The bolded part is why you should take a new approach. The growth of Unibet should also indicate that there is a market for players that don't want to compete against 3rd party tools.
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Old 06-11-2015, 11:57 AM   #11
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Re: 3rd Party Software on PokerStars: Proposed Rule Changes

Steve, what is the best way to contact you / a member of your team to discuss if a product would conform to your potential new rules?
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Old 06-11-2015, 12:02 PM   #12
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Re: 3rd Party Software on PokerStars: Proposed Rule Changes

I'm worried that the rules are too vague. Effort should be spent to find a brighter line distinction between what is allowed and what is not.
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Old 06-11-2015, 12:04 PM   #13
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Re: 3rd Party Software on PokerStars: Proposed Rule Changes

100% behind this... new players and fish are immediately attacked and few stick around for long... the higher limits have few rec players as they lose money two quick -they do not invest in software... this is a step towards making the game more on the fair side... now -PLS PLS GET RID OF SEATING SCRIPTS

buying $300-1000 or more of software should not be basic prerequisite to playing poker on stars...
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Old 06-11-2015, 12:04 PM   #14
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Re: 3rd Party Software on PokerStars: Proposed Rule Changes

How can these rules possibly be enforced?

Doesn't this just limit ethical players to having a disadvantage against unethical players who have virtually no risk of being caught?

It would be better for everyone if there were no software aids but I just don't see how it can be enforced.
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Old 06-11-2015, 12:19 PM   #15
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Re: 3rd Party Software on PokerStars: Proposed Rule Changes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rant View Post
How can these rules possibly be enforced?

Doesn't this just limit ethical players to having a disadvantage against unethical players who have virtually no risk of being caught?

It would be better for everyone if there were no software aids but I just don't see how it can be enforced.
When a punishment for breach is several times as severe as the gain from breaching the rule it's quite easy to make people indifferent or worse to breach.
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Old 06-11-2015, 12:25 PM   #16
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Re: 3rd Party Software on PokerStars: Proposed Rule Changes

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSpew View Post
yes, great news, now reduce rake and we are good to go.
this

nj stars
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Old 06-11-2015, 12:26 PM   #17
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Re: 3rd Party Software on PokerStars: Proposed Rule Changes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rant View Post
I'm worried that the rules are too vague. Effort should be spent to find a brighter line distinction between what is allowed and what is not.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rant View Post
How can these rules possibly be enforced?

Doesn't this just limit ethical players to having a disadvantage against unethical players who have virtually no risk of being caught?
+1
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Old 06-11-2015, 12:28 PM   #18
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Re: 3rd Party Software on PokerStars: Proposed Rule Changes

excellent, this needs to be done ASAP
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Old 06-11-2015, 12:28 PM   #19
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Re: 3rd Party Software on PokerStars: Proposed Rule Changes

Quote:
Originally Posted by PokerStars Steve View Post
If these changes are implemented, the recently reviewed software in question would no longer be allowed to be used while the client is open. The rule that would affect this software is identified by italics.
Maybe it's just my 2p2 theme (the infopop one) - but the whole TOS extract is in italics, and since it's in a quote I can't quote it to see where the italics should be. Nonetheless, I think I can tell which are the new parts.
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Old 06-11-2015, 12:36 PM   #20
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Re: 3rd Party Software on PokerStars: Proposed Rule Changes

Quote:
Originally Posted by _dave_ View Post
Maybe it's just my 2p2 theme (the infopop one) - but the whole TOS extract is in italics, and since it's in a quote I can't quote it to see where the italics should be. Nonetheless, I think I can tell which are the new parts.
Apologies! This is the section that should be in italics:

1. Any tool or reference material that offers commentary or advice that goes beyond a basic level, such as stack-size-based starting hand tables, decision trees or heads-up displays that dynamically change based on player action or card values.
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Old 06-11-2015, 12:39 PM   #21
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Re: 3rd Party Software on PokerStars: Proposed Rule Changes

What is a basic level though? +1 to likely needing more clearly specified rules, definitely the right way to go though.
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Old 06-11-2015, 12:40 PM   #22
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Re: 3rd Party Software on PokerStars: Proposed Rule Changes

Ban everything.

Hud, hem, pokertracker, script, table ninja, everything.

That would be one of the best decision for the future of online poker and bringing back online poker closer to a "real" poker game.

It's also really good for recreational player.
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Old 06-11-2015, 12:41 PM   #23
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Re: 3rd Party Software on PokerStars: Proposed Rule Changes

Obviously +1 but im in the need more camp. Just ban everything pls =(.
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Old 06-11-2015, 12:45 PM   #24
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Re: 3rd Party Software on PokerStars: Proposed Rule Changes

the problem with this again though is all the commerically available stuff get banned whilst some russian wizard will have acess to all manner of software which is far more useful
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Old 06-11-2015, 12:47 PM   #25
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Re: 3rd Party Software on PokerStars: Proposed Rule Changes

Hi Steve

Just trying to understand the proposed rules a bit better. I was wondering if you could clear a couple things up:

1) Does this affect the after the hand advice (I didnít see anything that would make me think it does apart from your inclusion of the Holy Grail Of Poker). If so, can I ask what is the rationale behind this?

2) Can you go into a bit more detail in what you guys are trying to achieve with the charts and what kind of boundaries there will be? Are there going to be some absolute guidelines so that everyone has a level playing field? How would these changes affect something like this:




(edit) 3) I noticed Chart Manager was not on the list of affected software (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldfejYwOhCQ). Is this an oversight, or will that continue to be allowed?

Thanks
Tommy

Last edited by skier_5; 06-11-2015 at 01:04 PM. Reason: item 3
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