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Upcoming Third Party Tool Policy Change (March 2019)

New PokerStars policy regarding permitted and prohibited Third Party Tool features is due to come into effect on March 1st. Let's see what it will bring us.

1.Table Selection and Seating Scripts.

BEFORE

Permitted

1.4) Macros and Hotkey programs that don’t have any bearing on gameplay logic…

Prohibited

3.2) Any tool or service that works off of a central database of player profiles, hands played or private results is prohibited.

3.6) 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.

AFTER

Prohibited

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.

Any tool or service for table selection efficiency that filter or sort available games, or automates/semi-automates the process of joining available games, based on opponent gameplay statistics or notes. For example, seating scripts that join you on a set number of tables that have an average statistic for opponents above/below a certain figure, or work off pre-assigned player note labels, are prohibited. Seating scripts that merely join you on a set number of available tables without consideration of the opponents are permitted.

SUMMARY

There have been the most significant changes in this category. Any tool that filters, sorts or joins available games based on opponent details are now prohibited at all times.

Table selection and seating scripts that merely navigate the poker lobby, specifically choosing Individual table or tournaments to play at, are permitted provided the filtration, sorting or joining are not based on any opponent details. Opponent details include, but are not limited to, gameplay statistics, winnings, categorisations and notes.

Any tool or service that adapts the user interface to merely display statistics on the players in the games, is permitted, providing these statistics are not obtained from a prohibited data source.

2. Gameplay Utility and Hotkey Scripts.

BEFORE

Permitted

1.4) 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.

Prohibited

3.3) 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.

AFTER

Permitted

1.4) Macros and Hotkey programs for gameplay efficiency that do not reduce the requirement of a player having to make a decision…

Prohibited

3.1) Any tool or service that plays without human intervention (a ‘bot’) or reduces the requirement of a human to make decisions…

3.3) Any tool or service that delays a player’s decision by either a specific or randomised amount of time.

SUMMARY

    There are no significant changes in this category except the following two:
  • Scripts cannot make “the requested action after a specified time or within a specified time period”.
  • Scripts cannot bet or raise a randomised amount.

Providing the script is not accessing any variables that are considered off limits and it is the end-user that is still making the ultimate decision as to how to play their hand, efficiency based utility and hotkey scripts are permitted.

Scripts may take into consideration any information that is extractable before the cards are dealt. This includes variables such as big blind size, effective stack size and absolute position.

    In addition, scripts may also identify:
  • The current street
  • The current pot size
  • The current bet size
  • Whether the time bank button is visible
    However, scripts may not take the following poker-related variables into consideration:
  • Value of any visible cards, regardless of whether they are personal hole cards or community cards
  • Relative position (in position / out of position vs the aggressor)
  • Any player or opponent action throughout the hand

3. Reference Material – Starting Hand Charts, Trees etc.

BEFORE

Permitted

1.2) Tools and services that are static reference material and basic in nature, such as a single table-based starting hand chart.

Prohibited

2.1) 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 player action or card values.

AFTER

Permitted

1.2)Reference material that is static and basic in nature, such as simple table-based starting hand charts advising on what hands to play or not in unopened pots.

Prohibited

2.1)Reference material that provides advice that goes beyond a basic level, such as a large collection of tables offering recommendations beyond whether to play certain hands or not in unopened pots.

2.1)Reference material that provides advice that goes beyond a basic level, such as a large collection of tables offering recommendations beyond whether to play certain hands or not in unopened pots.

2.2) Tools or services designed specifically to ease referral to reference material.

3.2) Any tool or service that offers real-time advice on what action to take through reading of the current game state (a ‘bot’).

SUMMARY

“Reference material” is defined for the purpose of this policy as any material designed to provide advice on what action to take in various poker scenarios.

PokerStars intention is to permit simple starting hand charts that would help introduce a beginning player to basic strategy. PokerStars do not wish for players to be supplied with in-depth reference material, follow it blindly, and significantly improve their performance.

It isn’t specifically a change, but PokerStars explains how tools developed to assist users with reviewing this type of reference material are prohibited while the client is open. However these tools are still technically permitted if they can restrict the user’s ability to view prohibited material via the tool.

    Firstly, regarding tools designed to ease referral to reference material:
  • Any tool or feature designed specifically to ease referral to reference material is prohibited while the client is open, due to their likely use to ease access to prohibited reference material. An exception is made if these tools disable the user’s ability to view prohibited reference material within the tool when the Stars client is running. The tool must also be able to reliably detect when the Stars client is running for this purpose. The tool must be presented to and approved by Stars before it is used while playing.
  • The presentation of reference material to the user cannot be automated or semi-automated by the reading of any of the current game state. This includes information both before and after any cards are dealt. A tool that provides such a feature is considered to be a poker bot.

A change made in this regard though is that “freezing” navigation within the tool is not adequate. If there is a possible view for the user of reference material that isn’t permitted due to its content, then the tool will still be considered prohibited while the client is open. To be permitted, your tool must completely “black out” any prohibited content or shut down entirely upon detection of the Stars client.

    Reference material used while playing may:
  • Only advise on what hand combinations to play or not play (or a mixture of both) in an “unopened pot”.
  • Distinguish advice based on position or stack size.
  • Distinguish advice based on what card(s) of the user are in the hole and what cards are face-up.
    Reference material used while playing may not:
  • Distinguish between calling and raising;
  • Advise on whether to play or not in opened pots;
  • Recommend in what proportion to "play or not play" for any specific hand combination;
  • Distinguish advice based on known opponent cards or community cards.

Furthermore, the entire content of any reference material must be able to be converted to a maximum of nine "13x13 chart matrices" and each intersection only provide one of three possible advices in unopened pots: play, don’t play, or a mixture of both (in an undefined proportion).

For example: this will make nearly all Nash push/fold charts prohibited. Could hypothetically have one “Pusher” chart, but stack sizes would be divided into just 9 groups.

The Stars Group at their sole discretion may advise that any specific, or similar, collection of reference material is prohibited for use while playing, even if the qualities of the material do not clearly breach the previously defined parameters. This will be in instances whereby they deem the material is not within the spirit of this policy.

4. HUDs

BEFORE

Permitted

1.3) Tools and services that monitor and display numerical based statistics in-game, but make use of only information which you have accumulated through your own play.

Prohibited

2.1) 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 player action or card values.

AFTER

Permitted

1.3) Tools or services that monitor and display numerical-based statistics in-game, but make use of only information that you have accumulated through your own play. Furthermore, there are qualitative limitations on any statistics displayed in-game, such as not being able to be split based on card values. There are also feature limitations of tools and services displaying statistics in-game, such as not being able to automatically change displayed statistics based on game state or opponent tendencies.

HUDs may NOT dynamically change based on any details of the current game state, aside from game format and opponent usernames. For example, altering statistics shown based on stack sizes or table position is prohibited.

SUMMARY

    HUDs may:
  • Display an unlimited number of numerical based statistics on the frequencies of specific actions having occurred by the respective player, providing it is calculated from hands in which the end-user personally participated.
  • Include “pop-up” based HUD functionality to further display additional statistics.
  • Alter the colour or font of an individual statistic based on two different thresholds. For example, a HUD may show a VPIP statistic in red if it is less than 20%, white if it is between 20%-30% and green if it is greater than 30%. However, the thresholds must be raw values and cannot be dynamically calculated or population-percentile based.
    HUDs may not:
  • Have statistics that are split based on card values. For example, AGGRESSION FREQUENCY is fine, AGGRESSION FREQUENCY ON FLUSH DRAW BOARDS is not. Similarly, COUNT OF AKo WHEN 3-BET would also be prohibited.
  • Dynamically change based on any details of the current game state, aside from game format and opponent usernames. For example, altering statistics shown based on stack sizes or table position is prohibited.
  • Dynamically change which statistics are shown based on player/opponent tendencies. For example, displaying FOLD TO CBET but only for players that have high folds to continuation bets is prohibited.
  • Rate, label, categorise or stereotype players based on their tendencies.
  • Display graphical representations of more than one numerical data point. For example, bet size / hand strength scatter plots are prohibited but a 0-100 “temperature gauge” representation of a player’s VPIP is permitted.
  • Display statistics or information that is not based upon the corresponding opponent’s details. For example, displaying any hand chart is prohibited.

Concluding Note

Positional HUD will be prohibited. However, we contacted the PokerStars staff who confirmed the following:

Permitted

Automatic change of HUD when changing the level of blinds in tournaments.

Automatic change of HUD at the transition to the HU stage in the tournament.

Automatically hide HUD if a player folds.

You can change HUD by Hotkeys. (Our team is already engaged in the creation of such features.)