PokerStars is coming to New Jersey, PartyPoker moves to ban third-party software as PokerStars new policies come into effect, PokerCentral goes live, craps cheaters busted, and more.

PokerStars to make much-anticipated New Jersey debut

It’s the moment that US poker players have been waiting for, and which Amaya has long been promising; PokerStars has now secured a license to operate in the state of New Jersey. New Jersey is one of three states where regulated online poker is currently legal, along with Nevada and Delaware, but it was not a given that PokerStars would get regulatory approval, given that it was caught on the wrong side of things on Black Friday.

PokerStars likely would not have been able to re-enter the U.S. market – at least not in New Jersey – under its previous ownership, but the takeover by Amaya last year paved the way for its eventual approval.

Unfortunately for New Jersey residents, the current state of legislation requires that sites be “ring-fenced,” that is, that they allow players to play only against other residents of the state. This means that although a New Jersey PokerStars site will look and feel similar to what’s available elsewhere, the user base will be much smaller, so players won’t have access to the sort of huge-field, huge-guarantee tournaments that are one of the site’s biggest selling points.

PartyPoker to “level the playing field”

In what is becoming something of a fashion trend in online poker sites these days, PartyPoker is the latest to announce a set of changes aimed at reducing the ability of high-volume grinders to target and exploit weaker recreational players.

There are essentially two major changes being made to that end: Firstly, in order to impede the functioning of HUDs and tracking software, hand histories will no longer be available for download and local storage, though they will still be viewable through the client itself. Secondly, players will have much less control over their seating in cash games; as has been done elsewhere, the new seating system will be similar to live poker, in that players will simply ask to be seated, and assigned their table and seat randomly.

PokerStars new third-party software policies come into effect

PartyPoker’s announcement of its changes come on the same day as previously-announced changes by PokerStars will now come into effect. While PartyPoker’s changes, once implemented, will be at the client level, PokerStars has adjusted its terms of service and third party software policies.

The PokerStars changes were largely made in response to outcry over a controversial piece of custom software being used by a player known as Skier_5. Although PokerStars initially stated that the software did not violate their terms of service, critics argued that its functionality was essentially that of an AI bot, with the human operator acting solely as a middleman to input the software’s suggestions into the client interface.

The backlash was sufficient to cause PokerStars to reconsider its policies; under the new rules, Skier_5’s software will be illegal, but so will many other commercially-available pieces of software. Developers have been scrambling to bring the affected software into compliance with the new policies.

Quick Hitters

– PokerCentral, a 24/7 poker network, has gone live today. For the time being it is available only through Roku TV, Amazon Fire TV, FilmOn.TV and XBox One, but no actual cable networks, to the disappointment of some.

– Four people – two dealers and two players operating as a team – have been indicted on charges of scamming the Bellagio for over $1 million over the course of nearly two years. The alleged scam involved the players mumbling their verbal bets; if it seemed no one else present would have heard the actual bet, the dealer member of the team would then pay it out as if the partner had wagered correctly, regardless of the actual roll.

Legal drama continues to unfold between Boston mayor Marty Walsh and Wynn Resorts. Wynn has gained state approval to build a mega-casino in nearby Everett, but the plan has proved unpopular with Boston residents, leading Walsh to initiate a second lawsuit to block its construction, this one on environmental grounds.

– Dylan ‘Pokerl)evil’ Hortin did an interview with PokerUpdate in which he discusses Twitch, Global Poker Link and his online poker career.