A year ago, PokerStars extended its “Seat Me” experiment to its Italian site, PokerStars.it after previously implementing it in France, Spain, and Portugal. Last week, the world’s largest online poker room reverted a few of its tables back to “normal” on a trial basis, allowing players to table select like they used to.

Blind Lobby Curtails Abuse

Seat Me is a cash game lobby format that we have seen at other online poker rooms (though not under that name) in which players select the game type, stakes, and table size and let the software seat them automatically. Traditionally – and this is the case for PokerStars’ dot com site – lobbies show a complete list of tables, allowing players to pick and choose exactly where they would like to sit.

A system like Seat Me serves a few purposes. First, it is keeps things simple. Second, it approximates what a player would find in a brick-and-mortar poker room. Third, and this the most important part for the poker room, it helps cut down on players’ ability to use seating scripts in order to hunt down “fish” throughout the lobby. Seating scripts scan the tables to find a software user’s preferred targets, but without the ability to see every table, seating scripts are not very useful.

When PokerStars implemented Seat Me last July, it said, “If this market reacts as expected, we will look to PokerStars.com towards the end of the year.”

Reversing Course on Some Tables

That clearly has not happened for whatever reason, but Seat Me continues to go forward in Italy. As an experiment, though, PokerStars has returned the €5/€10 cash games to the old-style lobby, letting players hand-select which tables they would like.

What PokerStars is aiming for here is to see if certain stakes tables might work better with one type, while others could use a different type. What constitutes a successful test is unknown to us, but one would imagine that PokerStars will be watching the €5/€10 tables carefully to see if they show the telltale signs of seating script or other third-party software abuse.

PokerStars did ban seating scripts in April, so hopefully they won’t be in use, but it always seems that in online poker, where there’s a will, there’s a way. The poker room had originally banned specific types of seating scripts, but software authors modified their products to circumvent the restrictions. This caused more problems, as rather than targeting individual players, the scripts just reserved as many seats as possible. The users would them just sit there and wait for fish to come, causing those who didn’t use seating scripts to have trouble finding a seat.

One would assume that the €5/€10 tables are going back to a traditional lobby for a reason. Maybe those stakes didn’t used to be abused by software users as much. Or, on the flip side, maybe the did and PokerStars wants to see how effective the script ban is. Either way, the results will be studied and further lobby massaging will continue in the future as necessary.

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