The controversial changes PokerStars has been making to improve its poker ecology may be dominating the headlines, but PokerStars isn’t the only online poker company that has been shifting toward a more recreational-player-friendly model in recent years.
In fact, it can be argued that PokerStars was late to the recreational model party.
The first was Bodog, which instituted a recreational model back in 2011 with the introduction of anonymous tables.
Another early adopter to the recreational model (beginning in 2012/2013) was partypoker, which announced even more recreational-friendly changes last week.
Regardless of the site making the changes, all of the changes have been met by criticism and predictions of doom, but by and large, most of the sites moving towards a recreational-friendly model seem to be doing quite well. One exception being partypoker, although it’s unfair to pin the site’s decline on the recreational-friendly changes its made – correlation and causation and all.
Considering the company continues to trudge down this road, it seems they are happy with the ecosystem shift its seen from previous changes of this sort.
Soon after it overhauled its software back in May 2013, partypoker put a new VIP program in place, adding missions and challenges to its rewards system. The new rewards program and software were part of a six-step program partypoker announced earlier in 2013 designed to, “optimise the poker ecology.”
In the ensuing years partypoker has continued along this path, calling the changes a “leveling of the playing field.”
Over this span of time the company has:
The most recent change announced by partypoker is that all hand histories will become anonymous (removing opponents’ screen-names from them), and at the same time the site will ban seating scripts.
A quick perusal shows that most of the recent changes were aimed at protecting casual players by putting an end to what had become an increasingly problematic situation at online poker rooms, the practice of bumhunting – identifying and following new and/or bad players around the site, and flocking to them as soon as they sat down at a table with the help of seating scripts that quickly identified these players.
Some of the policies will also make it harder for players to data mine, and collect information about their opponents without actually playing against them.
Here’s what partypoker has done to counteract these practice:
By making hand histories anonymous partypoker continues to apply heat to any remaining bumhunters and data miners that still remain at the site, without adversely affecting a player’s ability to review their own play of hands in order to improve.
“It’s important for us to provide all poker players with a fair and ethical product whilst still allowing them to learn and improve,” partypoker’s Group Head of Poker Tom Walters said in a blog post announcing the new policy. “We want partypoker to offer a level playing field that allows players of all abilities to compete fairly.”
Here’s how it will work according to partypoker:
Walters went on to explain how this new policy will cut down on bumhunting and data mining, thereby protecting casual players from the sharks:
“Anonymising hand histories will help prevent data mining and therefore protect both the professional and recreational player and improve the overall ecology on partypoker which is imperative for the long term future of the game.”
PokerStars may be bearing the brunt of the criticism, but they’re far from the only company moving away from professional-friendly policies.
Although different in nature, the changes at partypoker have been quite sweeping, and are probably far from finished.
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