Good news for poker players!
PokerTableRatings.com, the scourge of recreational poker players across the world, has been dealt a great big smack on the nose!
Last Monday Poker Stars issued a “Cease or Desist” letter to PokerTableRatings.com (PTR), ordering it to stop recording hands from its tables. Three days later PTR crumbled and agreed to the action. Hopefully its whole business (and all their competitors) will crumble and die as well. And not a minute too soon.
If you’ve never heard of PTR, it is a data mining company that collects information on poker players, including me and you. Their computers scour the open tables played on a particular site and then they assemble and sell this information on to anyone willing to pay for it.
This means you can be sitting at a table with someone you’ve never met before and they will know very important things about the way you play. Obviously they won’t know the exact cards you’ve played unless you’ve shown down that particular hand. But they will know, for example, that you see 25% of flops and raise 16% of the time before the flop, which makes it very easy for them to guess your range of hands.
You might not even know that you raise 16% of hands yourself. But the fact is you do exhibit these patterns, consciously or otherwise, and a good player will devour this information. And this is the point – they are probably already good players. Good players who aren’t satisfied with already have the edge over the competition. These people just want every edge available and they’ve got no interest in a fair game.
It’s got to the ridiculous stage where a table has a waiting list a mile long because there is a known fish at a table (there is software that also locates the worst players). In these games, when the fish leaves, sometimes all the other players sit out at the same time. How rude is that? Imagine how you’d feel if you got wiped out in a live game and everyone just stood up and left? Often the weaker player is just a recreational player, oblivious to the fact this software exists. All this software does is accelerate the speed at which the soft players lose their money so it drives them away. It’s not healthy for everyone else.
One of the things that tilts me the most in poker is when you sit down to play heads up and the opponent sits out straight away. Sometimes I like playing a bit of heads up cash, just a small game where it’s $20 or $50 sit down. So I’ll sit at a table ready to play…
….and immediately they sit out.
The reason for this cannot possibly be because they are scared of me. I’m not even a winner at heads up over my puny sample of hands. The reason is because I don’t have a huge amount of hand history so they just don’t know. And they only want to play me if they KNOW I am a big loser.
These cheeky pricks then sit there waiting for ME to leave! My response is always the same: “I’m here to play. If you haven’t got the bottle then LEAVE.” And I just refuse to move. As it’s a heads up table no-one else can join and it just blocks up the table. But by now it’s a battle of wills that I absolutely refuse to lose. Why should I leave, especially now I have the chance to spoil his fun?
In the end, usually after saying nothing whatsoever, they disappear and someone who actually wants to play can sit down. What these jokers really deserve is for Phil Ivey or Tom Dwan to commandeer some fish’s account and smash them to pieces.
These people aren’t gamblers, they are just bum hunting scum. They aren’t interested in a fair game, just one where they have every conceivable edge. So I’m delighted at this development.
“We have told them that they must immediately cease infringing our intellectual property rights and breaching the terms and conditions of our software,” a Poker Stars spokesman said. “This is not an idle threat; we’ve assembled a team of lawyers in multiple jurisdictions to follow up.”
Poker Stars’ had made previous efforts over a long period to get PTR to stop, but it has taken the actual threat of legal action to get them to stop. I suppose this doesn’t stop them collecting data from other site’s who haven’t threatened action, so it remains to be seen how this will end. But as Poker Stars is easily the biggest online site it puts a big dent in their operation.
I doubt this will be the end of the story just yet. I suspect other operators will continue to data mine and sell the information but eventually they will have to go underground if the legal threats continue.
You might ask “What’s the difference between what PTR does and the other software out there which records hands played, such as Poker Tracker or Holdem Manager?”
Well there is a difference and I’ll return to this subject on Thursday.