GVC’s online poker room, partypoker, has set a date for its long overdue next round of ecology changes that the company first began implementing nearly four years ago.
On June 17, the room will roll out a major software update across its global dot-com site that will force players to change their screen names, restrict third-party tracking tools (including HUDs), remove the notes feature and remove the ability to download hand histories.
In fact, the room has already taken the first steps towards these changes. On May 28, partypoker introduced a redesigned hand replayer and added a new simplified dashboard to help players jump quickly to recently played hands.
In addition to these new features, the room also removed the option to observe cash games except for featured tables. Players can now only view cash game tables as long as they are sitting at a table with a stack. Multi-table tournaments are still allowed to be observed.
The room has said that these changes are part of a strategy to improve the ecology of the games by leveling the playing field and offer a safer and fairer online poker room.
However, these changes are just the tip of the iceberg.
In a recent podcast with Jeff Gross, partypoker partner and the man responsible for these ecology changes, Rob Yong, talked about a number of initiatives that the site will be taking in the coming months including perhaps the most significant change—the use of real names in place of players’ screen names at high-stakes and heads-up tables as well as in partypoker’s satellites to live tournaments.
“We’re committed to [making] a number of changes over the next six [to] nine months,” said Yong to Gross in the podcast.
He went on to say that the room has nearly 50 changes planned and that players will be notified of ahead of their implementation. Yong said that “the objective is to make the games as ethical and straight and trustworthy” as they would be in a live environment.
Plans to Require Real Names on partypoker
One of the major changes that will be introduced is the requirement for players playing high stakes cash games to use their real names instead of their screen names in what would be a first for online poker.
“We’re actually going to not allow the use of aliases at the high stakes, so you’ll play on the real name,” Yong exclaimed.
While Yong did not specify an exact date as to when the real name policy will be enforced, he said the use of real names will “probably” be implemented by July.
However, Yong did say that the process to introduce this feature across the entire site could take years, but he is confident that eradicating player aliases will “bring in more recreational players.”
As per Yong, the real names policy will initially be introduced at high-stakes, followed by heads-up games, partypoker satellites to live events, and community tournaments (referring to the home games which the room recently introduced).
Yong also remarked that the room could trial real name tables as an option instead of making them compulsory.
“I’m sure we’re gonna lose some players who don’t want to have any alias … we’re gonna lose some traffic but it’s about doing the right thing,” Yong said.
- Largest player base in the world.
- Home of Spin & Go, Power Up and lots of other unique game variants including 6+ Hold’em.
- Biggest weekly tournament schedule around.
No More Tracking Tools or Hand Histories
The first comments about a possible ban on third-party tracking tools began to surface three months ago following Rob Yong’s interview with CalvinAyre.com’s Lee Davy. A month later, further details were revealed by pokerfuse; and three weeks ago, specifics were leaked, but later withdrawn.
Even before partypoker officially announced the changes, many players (particularly the high volume player base) raised concerns that their ability to police the games and detect bots and collusion would be hindered without tracking software.
Derek Charles, Managing Partner at Max Value Software, parent company of PokerTracker and Hold’em Manager, two of the most popular suites of online poker tools on the market, in an exclusive interview with pokerfuse shared his thoughts on why HUDs and tracking software still play an important role in the modern era of online poker.
According to Charles, being able to review hand histories is “one of the most sacred online poker rights that every online poker player should absolutely demand.”
Despite criticism from players, partypoker is moving ahead with its plans to restrict third-party tracking tools and give players an opportunity to choose a new alias, so they cannot be tracked based on existing databases.
Key Dates for partypoker Changes
The forced alias change will come into effect on June 17, 2019 from 09:00 BST (10:00 CET). Players will be able to choose new screen names on a first come, first served basis. Players’ current screen names will go on hold for six months and all player notes will be wiped.
“This client update is one of a number of initiatives that we are working on in order to provide players with a safe environment where they can play online poker,” said Tom Waters, partypoker Managing Director, in a press release last week.
“We want our players to have a fresh start and therefore we are asking all players to select a new alias so that all third-party tool tracking is lost for all our players,” he added.
The software update will also include “changes to [the] software that will prevent third-party tracking tools from working,” Waters stated.
As an incentive for players and to encourage them to log in and grab a new screen name, the room will be running a “Race to Alias” promotion giving away $500,000 over the course of 24 hours on the day of the alias change via “Click Cards” and freerolls. The promotion will not be available in Sweden due to local regulations. In the Czech Republic, party is also running a $25,000 Race to Alias exclusive only to the players based in the country.
The War on Bots
Meanwhile, partypoker continues its fight against bot accounts as it banned a further 42 accounts in May seizing over $50,000. The operator closed 92 accounts in April confiscating close to $150,000 and it also closed 277 bot accounts during the period between December 1, 2018 and March 31, 2019. At that time, partypoker stated that it had reimbursed nearly $735,000 to affected players.
Yong also spoke on the issue of bots stating that the room is “in a much stronger position to detect bots” than players playing at the site. According to Yong, the majority of player reports are inaccurate and wrong. He is also absolutely certain that the room will completely eradicate all bots, collusion, and cheating on the site.