According to multiple poker media outlets, PokerStars is preparing to ban seating scripts in order to create a more welcoming environment for players, recreational players, in particular. It is a continuing effort by Stars – as well as other online poker rooms – over the last few years to retain casual players by making the games more fun and less threatening.
Historically, online poker room cash game lobbies have listed all the possible tables at which one can play, sorted by any number of factors, including game type, stakes, maximum number of players, current number of players, average pot size, and hands per hour. Players cruising the lobby could click on or open a table to see the players who were seated a take a look at the action. Naturally, if an active player is spotted who is known to the user to be weak, that user may want to sit at that table.
As third parties developed software to aid players in their poker, one product that was developed was the seating script, which uses data a player has in their software and combs the tables, looking for opponents who are desirable to play against, based on the user’s data. Perhaps they see 90% of flops or maybe they fold 75% of the time to a raise. The scripts look for those players and then seat the user automatically at the players’ tables, provided a seat is open.
One consequence of this is that weaker, often recreational, players were stalked and drained of their money quickly. This made them not enjoy themselves and, in turn, they became less likely to re-deposit. Some sites have already banned seating scripts, while others have taken steps to make sure they are useless, such as not letting players choose specific tables or anonymizing players.
No More Hunting for Prey
A couple years ago, PokerStars implemented “Seat Me,” which had players choose their game type, stakes, and table size and then automatically be taken to an open seat, but it still has not rolled out to all Stars sites.
PokerStars has yet to announce the banning of seating scripts, but Poker Industry PRO recently confirmed with the site that it will be happening.
“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 PokerStars rep told the news site.
“For example, the use of seating scripts that join players to a set number of tables that have an average statistic for opponents above/below a certain figure, or work off pre-assigned player notes, are prohibited.”
Russian poker news site, Pokeroff, also reported that PokerStars will soon prohibit any software that automatically selects and/or enters games based on accumulated opponent data. The effective date for the rules change will be March 1st.
Time to Pick Up the Pace
In other PokerStars policy news, the site announced today that in an effort to speed up cash games, it is reducing the allowed time to act and maximum time banks. Currently, players have 18 seconds to act pre-flop when not facing a raise and 25 seconds pre-flop when facing a raise or any time post-flop. Beginning on February 5th, those times will be reduced to 10 and 15 seconds, respectively.
Players currently start with a time bank of 30 seconds, used when a player needs extra time beyond the standard allotment. When not used, it increases to as much as 600 seconds. On February 5th, the time bank will be slashed significantly, starting at 15 seconds and only going up to 30 seconds pre-flop and 60 seconds post-flop.