Friday, April 15, 2011

Online Poker Players Speak Out on Full Tilt's block of Poker Tracking Websites

Source: Poker News Daily

Most players view the recent move by Full Tilt Poker to block the ability of online poker tracking sites such as SharkScope and PokerTableRatings (PTR) from receiving data favorably.

SharkScope stated in an update on April 5th, “We respectfully request that all online players carefully consider the option of playing at sites other than Full Tilt and communicating to Full Tilt your opinions and rationale about why you prefer to play elsewhere.”

This has set off a firestorm of discussion on the online poker forum TwoPlusTwo. Much of the talk centers on how players use data from tracking sites and whether this information offers them an unfair advantage. A majority of the players on TwoPlusTwo have strongly voiced their opposition to such tracking sites and programs.

“I completely agree as long as it levels the field for all players,” posted “Polar Beard.” “In my opinion, sitting at a table an hour or two is more than enough to have a good idea of your opponents’ style and competence.”

“If a tracking service remains available for a select group of players, then it’s (a whole) other ball game,” “Polar Beard” concluded.

Several players admit to actively using such services as SharkScope and PTR, but they agree that they should probably be shut down. “Even though I use PTR and Sharkscope pretty often, I’d be happy to see all sites cut them off,” poster “mchu1026” shared in the TwoPlusTwo thread.

With Full Tilt blocking poker tracking sites, many are calling for the largest site in the industry, PokerStars, to step up and do the same.

“Well done FTP for blocking PTR, now step up Stars,” poster “raidalot” writes. “What really needs to be blocked urgently are the tools that store and sell hand history data and/or player stats (or provide them in the form of HUDs). I have never used PTR, but I see on the home page that it provides ‘premium content’ such as VPIP and other player stats. This sort of site should be banned by any poker site interested in the long term future of the internet game.”

Another poster, “knef,” contacted PokerStars regarding the tracking situation and the site told him that it is “trying” to block tracking sites from receiving information. “PokerStars is aware that there are people who try to break our rules on data mining and consequently I’m pleased to advise that we are in the process of improving our software to stop this activity,” “knef” reports a PokerStars support team member named “Regina” as saying.

Although the wave of opinion is against tracking sites, some posters point out that these sites were important in breaking several recent scandals in the online poker world. “PTR has helped crack down on multi-accounting, cheating, bots, and chip dumping,” stated “RY889.” “The majority of you guys are losing players and I don’t blame you for wanting your stats hidden, but for us winning players, it has been a useful tool for game selecting.”

Several top pros have weighed in as well. Team pro Adam “Roothlus” Levy gave his two cents: “It’s because PTR got bought by Zynga and FTP wants (to) draw the line in the sand.” Jordan “scarface79” Smith seemed to side with the minority, stating, “Easier to hide their super users,” while Jay “SEABEAST” Kinkade sided with the majority: “Great move, thanks FTP.”

Shawn “buck22” Buchanan, who holds Red Pro status on Full Tilt Poker, weighed out the pros and cons. After his analysis, he posted, “Unless the large majority here either works for FT or is a bit thick, I honestly can’t see the benefits to this.”