Third Party Tools and Services - FAQ
- What is this all about?
- 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 on PokerStars, 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.
- Why did this all get started?
- We have received emails on this subject from many players. Some want to use these tools 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 programs. We made this decision only after thorough discussion within PokerStars and with poker experts outside PokerStars, including our team of professionals.
- In general, what kind of tools and services are acceptable?
- The following types of tools and services are generally acceptable:
- Tools, services or charts that simply tell you odds, starting hand recommendations, etc.
- Tools and services that profile your opponents, but make use of only information which you have accumulated through your own play.
- 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 program.
- Tools and services that help you analyse your game but do not or cannot be setup to offer direct, real-time advice on the appropriate action to take.
- Why is this an issue?
- Consider this: you are playing at a six-person table and the other five players at that table are using a shared database program. After each hand, they are able to see what cards every other player (except you) had. Do you want to play at that table?
- Can you give me some examples of acceptable tools and services ?
- The following are examples of tools and services which are permitted:
^ Denotes program is compatible with Mac OS X only
- In general, what kinds of tools and services are prohibited?
- The following types of tools and services are prohibited:
- Any program that shares hole card data with other players or programs is colluding, and is prohibited.
- Any program that works off of a central database of player profiles or hands played is prohibited.
- Any program that plays without human intervention (a 'bot') or reduces the requirement of a human playing. For instance, an 'auto-folder' is prohibited.
- The practice of datamining (observing games without playing in order to build up a database of hand histories for future reference) is prohibited.
- Any software that offers direct game play advice on the appropriate action to take, and which is also programmable or configurable beyond a very basic level.
- Can you give some examples of tools and services which are prohibited?
- The following are examples of tools and services which are prohibited 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. 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 the PokerStars software is open.
Some examples of tools and services which are prohibited only while PokerStars is running are:
* PH Stars (a compliant version of Insight Poker Hound) is permitted
** SitnGo Wizard version 184.108.40.206 and later is permitted
***SNG Solver version 1.0.9 and later is permitted
- How do I opt-out of being tracked by third-party tools?
- Many of the tools listed above allow you to opt-out from being tracked, or having your information displayed to other users of the tool.
- Why are there two lists of prohibited tools? What is the difference between them?
- The first list details tools which are prohibited at all times. None of these tools may be used on your computer, even if not installed on the machine, and even if you do not use them in conjunction with the PokerStars client. PokerStars will take active measures to detect these tools and will take punitive action against players who have them (see 'What steps are you going to take...' below).
The second list details tools and services which may not be used in conjunction with PokerStars or while the PokerStars client software is open. We recognise that these tools have legitimate uses - perhaps for analysing your game or tracking your results - but we feel that they cross the line of what is acceptable for use during play. PokerStars will take measures to detect these tools and will issue warnings to players using them. PokerStars will also work with the developers of such tools to assist them in complying with the rules.
- There's a tool / service I'd like to use, but it's not on any of these lists. Now what?
- Please send an email to email@example.com 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.
- Are all of the programs on the permitted list safe to use?
- PokerStars does not actively endorse or support any program on the permitted list, nor do we make any guarantees regarding the functionality, reliability, or safety of any program whatsoever.
- Are the above lists subject to change?
- Yes. In addition to evaluating new tools and services that come to our attention, PokerStars frequently re-examines 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. PokerStars assumes 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.
- May I use a permitted tools and service to record information about players from hands in which I am not playing?
- No. You may only collect hand histories and player information from hands in which you are a participant.
- What steps are you going to take to prevent players from using prohibited tools and services?
- We are going to look to see if any of those tools or services which may provide an unfair advantage are running on a player's computer.
- Are you going to look for anything else on players' computers?
- Absolutely not. Our sole interest is in protecting our players and our site from tools and services that we believe are bad for the integrity and fairness of our games.
- Can PokerStars see my internet browsing history, documents, or other private files and information?
- Some prohibited programs listed above are internet web sites, especially those revolving around datamining. What steps do you take to stop their use?
- PokerStars believes 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, PokerStars reserves the right to take legal action as it deems fit against those services that maliciously and repeatedly breach our Terms of Service.
- Can PokerStars make any changes to the files on my computer?
- PokerStars may, at our discretion, prevent the PokerStars client program from running on your machine, or require players to upgrade the client program. However, it is not possible for PokerStars staff to remotely modify any file on your computer, or send any file to your machine.
- Are you going to confiscate the account funds of somebody running a prohibited tool or service?
- 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 by 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 which violates our policies.