Third Party Tools and Services - FAQ

Q.What is this all about?

A.As online poker has grown in popularity, people have developed tools and web-based services to help them play better online. We think it is okay for players to use some of these tools and services. However, we think that some go beyond what we consider acceptable as an aid to playing online.

There are many things that a player can do to improve their chances in a poker game. For instance, they can play a lot and gain experience, or they can read a book about poker. Both of these techniques are clearly appropriate. At the other end of the spectrum, they can work in collusion with a partner, sharing information about hole cards and teaming up against other players. This is clearly cheating.

In between those two extremes are many tools - some of which we consider to be too close to cheating. For example, there are people building huge databases with profiles of every player online, and they are selling access to these databases. A player with access to such a database can call up detailed information about every one of his opponents without ever playing against those opponents himself. We believe this gives that player an unfair advantage against others at his table.

Obviously, knowledgeable people will disagree over what is appropriate and what is not. We have developed what we consider to be a reasonable compromise between letting players take every possible fair advantage, and prohibiting the unfair ones.

Q.Why did this all get started?

A.We have received emails on this subject from many players. Some want to use these tools or services and are asking if they're okay. Other players are concerned that their opponents are using them. We needed to establish a policy so we could draw a line between acceptable and unacceptable tools and services. We made this decision only after thorough discussion within our organization and with other poker experts, including our team of professionals.

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 that monitor and display numerical based statistics in-game, 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.Why is this an issue?

A.Consider this: you are playing at a six-person table and the other five players at that table are using a shared database tools and services. After each hand, they are able to see what cards every other player (except you) had. Do you want to play at that table?

Q.Can you give me some examples of acceptable tools and services?

A.The following are examples of tools and services that are permitted:

NOTE: We do not make any guarantees regarding the functionality, reliability, or safety of any of these tools and services.

^ Denotes tool is compatible with Mac OS X only
† Denotes tool offers a limited subset of features when our software is open, in order to comply with our policy

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

A.The following types of tools and services are prohibited:

  1. Any tool or service that shares hole card data with other players or programs is colluding, and is prohibited. ‡
  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.
  6. Any tool or service that is targeted towards the manipulation of opponents in games in which you are unable to choose a specific table to play on, such as Spin & Go’s

‡ Hosting live streams on Twitch and other similar services is not considered as sharing hole card data.

Q.Can you give some examples of tools and services that are prohibited?

A.The following are examples of tools and services that are prohibited at all times:

Q.What about other analysis software that exists but are not permitted at all times?

There are some tools and services which have legitimate uses for analysing your game, but which are not appropriate for use during play. Typically, these tools fall under the following categories:

  1. Any tool or reference material that offers commentary or advice that goes beyond a basic level, such as a collection of individual stack-size-based starting hand tables, decision trees or heads-up displays that dynamically change based on actions, card values or player tendencies.
  2. Any tool or service that computes advanced equity calculations, such as range vs range simulators, ICM or Nash Equilibrium-based programs.

Q.Can you give me some examples of these tools and services that aren’t appropriate for use during play?

The following are examples of tools and services that are prohibited while our software is running:

There are some tools and services which have legitimate uses for analysing your game, but which are not appropriate for use during play. For example, ICM (Independent Chip Model) and Nash Equilibrium tools may be used for post-game analysis and for studying hands which you have previously played. Also, there are some web-based results databases, and its fine to use these to look at your own results. However, you may not use such a tool while our software is open.

Some examples of tools and services which are prohibited only while our software is running are:

* PH Stars (a compliant version of Insight Poker Hound) is permitted
** SitnGo Wizard version and later is permitted

Q.There's a tool / service I'd like to use, but it's not on any of these lists. Now what?

A.Please send an email to Support with all the information you have about the tool or service in question. Please include a URL to a relevant web page if possible. We will review the tool or service and let you know if it's permitted or not.

Q.Are all of the tools and services on the permitted list safe to use?

We do not actively endorse or support any tool or service on the permitted list, nor do we make any guarantees regarding the functionality, reliability, or safety of any service whatsoever.

Q.Are the above lists subject to change?

A.Yes. In addition to evaluating new tools and services that come to our attention, we frequently re-examine those already on the permitted and prohibited lists to ensure they continue to fall within our terms of service. In addition, the terms of service themselves and the definition of a prohibited tool or service are periodically re-examined and are subject to change without notice. These re-examinations can result in a tool or service being reclassified without notice, moving from the permitted list to the prohibited list or vice-versa. We assume no responsibility to notify players of any such reclassifications. Players should regularly check the lists of tools and services to verify the current status of any item's classification.

Q.May I use a permitted tools and service to record information about players from hands in which I am not playing?

A.No. You may only collect hand histories and player information from hands in which you are a participant.

Q.What steps are you going to take to prevent players from using prohibited tools and services?

A.We are going to look to see if any of those tools or services that may provide an unfair advantage are running on a player's computer.

Q.Are you going to look for anything else on players' computers?

A.Absolutely not. Our sole interest is in protecting our players and our sites from tools and services that we believe are bad for the integrity and fairness of our games.

Q.Can you see my internet browsing history, documents, or other private files and information?

A.No. We take your privacy very seriously and comply with relevant Data Protection law. We do not collect personally-identifiable information, other than that provided by the player during account registration and routine security verifications. It is not possible for any member of our staff to read or copy private data from your machine. For more information, see our Privacy Policy.

Q.Some prohibited services listed above are internet web sites, especially those revolving around datamining. What steps do you take to stop their use?

A.We believe that it is best to take action against these services at the root. Consequently, we are continually improving our software to stop the datamining of our games. In addition, we reserve the right to take legal action as we deem fit against those services that maliciously and repeatedly breach our Terms of Service.

Q.Can you make any changes to the files on my computer?

A.We may, at our discretion, prevent the poker client program from running on your machine, or require players to upgrade the client program. However, it is not possible for our staff to remotely modify any file on your computer, or send any file to your machine.

Q.Are you going to confiscate the account funds of somebody running a prohibited tool or service?

A.While we reserve the right to confiscate the funds of somebody running a prohibited tool or service, we are not going to do this lightly. Our goal is to educate via warning players who are found to be using prohibited software that is publicly available for download. However, we will confiscate funds if a player shows a pattern of using prohibited tools and services after being warned, or if a player attempts to bypass our detection measures, or if a player is found to be privately developing or using privately developed software that violates our policies.

Q.I’m a developer, is there anywhere I can get more information about your policies?

A.We do have a more in depth developer reference guide (PPSX, PDF) if you are interested in finding out some more of the intricacies regarding this policy. If you have any further questions, please contact Support.

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