Partypoker has moved to the front of the list among online-poker sites seeking ways to combat the proliferation of third-party software program that give extra advantage to tech-savvy players by introducing this week a new edition of its user software that no longer provides traditional hand histories among several important changes.
The upgrade, set live on June 17th, also forced all players logging in from that point forwards to choose new screen name — technically called aliases — as part of an effort to massively devalue existing hand histories and their use by many players within heads-up displays (called HUDs), which can offer live-time profiles on a player’s opponents at any given table. Further, partypoker has banned the use of almost all third-party programs with immediate effect, save for a couple of minor and cosmetic add-ons designed simply to add some flavor to the online partypoker experience.
The changes apply to partypoker’s global, dot-com site, with the exceptions of Sweden and the Czech Republic, for undisclosed reasons likely connected to certain data-preservation laws. The sweeping changes were also enacted on partypoker’s firewalled “dot-eu” site that services players in France and Spain. Partypoker’s sister site, bwin poker, has also had similar changes. Party’s US-based offerings are technically unaffected, since such third-party add-ons are already banned by the state laws where party’s sites are available.
Though announced some time ago, the changes were met with approval by a majority of players and respondents to an informal poll conducted by partypoker partner Rob Yong. However, a vocal minority of prolific software users continued to take party to task, including the developers of PokerTracker and Hold’em Manager, two of the most prevalent third-party programs available.
According to the popular partypoker blog, where the changes were formally announced, “All the changes are designed to level the playing field at partypoker following player feedback, allowing players of all levels to start afresh with a ‘clean slate’ in an effort to make the site a safer, fairer place to play.”
partypoker Player Panel member Patrick Leonard said: “partypoker is constantly listening to the poker community and continues to act upon feedback provided by its players. I welcome the latest changes, which serve to underscore partypoker’s commitment to improving the playing experience and will help to make the site a fairer and more enjoyable place to play poker.”
partypoker’s managing director, Tom Waters, said: “This client update is one of a number of initiatives that we are working on in order to provide players with a safe environment where they can play online poker.
“With this release, we are making changes to our software that will prevent third-party tracking tools from working. We want our players to have a fresh start and therefore we are asking all players to select a new alias so that all third-party tool tracking is lost for all our players. At the same time, we have some great promotions running and I’m sure there will be a mad rush by players eager to secure their preferred screen name!”
In a follow-up post, Yong touched on five of the most important points involving the changes, writing this about HUDs: “We banned the use of “HUDs” (Heads-up Displays) and also stopped your opponents from downloading your hand histories into databases and software to analyse your play or to sell or swap your hand histories with other players to gain an advantage against you. Here is an image of a player using a HUD in play:”
On aliases, Yong offered a similar take: “We also asked you to select a new partypoker alias upon log-in so that the databases that hold your hand histories and the software that analyses your play is of no further use against you.” A related image was also offered.
Party is attempting to allow users desiring such tools a limited alternative, called MyGame, about which Yong said: “We understand that you may want to review your own play and since you can no longer download your hand histories, we will work with players to improve MyGame, letting you review your own hands, stats, and results.”
Yong completed his re-visit by noting, “We invested heavily in our Game Integrity before making these changes. It wouldn’t be smart to inform bot users, cheats and angle-shooters of our plans, but I will personally be open and transparent on our results and KPIs…. We have over 50 more improvements in progress to make partypoker fairer. You can keep up to date on these improvements, express your views and suggest ideas via my @rob_yong_ Twitter account.”