Thursday, November 06, 2008

PokerStars Bans SharkScope From Site!

In a move that broke across many of the major online poker forums this morning, PokerStars, which has always been at the forefront against online poker cheating, banned its players from using the database site and its corresponding Heads Up Display (HUD). SharkScope now joins other collective databases like Poker Edge as not permitted on the site. The online poker room identifies 42 total programs in total that players on its felts are not allowed to operate. There had been talk of banning SharkScope in the previous year, but it appears that enforcement has become official today.

SharkScope is a poker tracking tool that has, according to its website, amassed a database of 178 million sit and go tournaments from across the major networks. A player using the website while playing on PokerStars is now in violation of the site’s Terms of Service. Punishment could include anything from a warning for a first time offender to complete banishment from the online poker room. Other programs which are banned from use by players on PokerStars include Poker Edge, Holdem Hawk, Poker Crusher, Online Holdem Inspector, TheCashDB, SpadeEye, and Sixth Sense.

SharkScope is in violation of PokerStars’ decree that “Any program that works off of a central database of player profiles or hands played is prohibited.” In addition, programs that play “without human intervention,” involve the “practice of datamining,” or “offer direct game play advice on the appropriate action to take” are also strictly against PokerStars’ Terms of Service.

On its website, PokerStars lists programs that are acceptable for use by its customers. They include a variety of programs such as Calculatem Pro, Holdem Genius, Holdem Manager, Omaha Indicator, Pokerbility, PokerGrapher, Poker Office, Poker Stove, PokerTracker, ThePokerDB, and Poker Wingman. There are 60 programs explicitly permitted on PokerStars. Any customer with questions about a specific piece of poker software should contact the support department of PokerStars.

Perhaps one of the premier poker software experts around is PokerXFactor instructor Chris “Fox” Wallace. He told Poker News Daily, “PokerStars has been very good about preventing cheating, but banning the SharkScope website itself, when all of that information is publicly available, will probably serve to hurt players who want to follow the rules, while rewarding those who are willing to break them.”

Wallace described how players may elect to get around the new ban on using “Anyone who has SharkScope running on a laptop sitting next to their computer will be almost impossible to catch and they will have a significant advantage over players who are being honest and sticking to the rules they agreed to. Creating a rule that can not be enforced is counterproductive.”

Full Tilt Poker does not allow the use of “large subscription databases.” However, it has not yet enforced any ban of SharkScope, which also tracks sit and go tournaments on Ultimate Bet, Party Poker, Pacific Poker, and Cake Poker, among others. Players have the option to block their own user name from appearing in SharkScope searches by filling out a form on its website. Coverage of the major poker rooms mainly began in 2006 or 2007 and over 62 million sit and gos alone were tracked on PokerStars. There have been 40 million sit and gos tracked on Full Tilt Poker and 21 million on the Ongame Network.

Right now, SharkScope is focused on sit and go tournaments. It does not yet support cash games, but intends to in the future, according to its site.