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Over the last couple of years, the online poker industry has shifted focus to recreational players and many of these changes have shifted the online poker paradigm. Poker sites are more concerned with creating a healthy ecosystem for recreational players and thus have made it difficult for serious and pro players to turn a profit in the games.

Partypoker is the latest site to make changes that are targeted exclusively at protecting recreational players. They have made several changes to their cash games that continues a trend of online poker sites banning third-party poker assistants and anonymizing games to prevent tracking.

Cash Game Changes Defined

Last year, Partypoker changed how players joined cash games by having them join a room-wide waiting list and randomly seating them when a game opened matching their preferences.

Several additional changes were implemented on October 5th of this year that have anonymized cash games in terms of data tracking. Those changes are as follows:

  • Screen names will be anonymized in cash game hand histories
  • Opponent names in hand histories will be referred to as Player 1, Player 2 and so forth.
  • Stats such as win rate, hands played, and other standard data will be available.
  • Players will no longer be allowed to use seating scripts. The first offense will result in a warning while a subsequent offense will result in a player being banned from partypoker.
  • Players can make a one-time screen name change.

Group Head of Partypoker Tom Waters explained the changes: “It’s important for us to provide all poker players with a fair and ethical product whilst still allowing them to learn and improve. We want partypoker to offer a level playing field that allows players of all abilities to compete fairly.”

We have listened to feedback from the poker community and believe that allowing players to continue to view their own hand histories is important for their personal game development. Anonymizing 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.”

Good for Recreationals – Bad for Pros

In the “Thank You Captain Obvious” category, it is clear to see that this change is going to be great for recreational players but bad for pro players looking to make a profit at poker.

For recreational players, they now have to worry a lot less about players that are using scripts to “bum hunt” as has been the preferred method to finding fish for years. Since pros will not be able to take notes automatically, this will allow recreationals to fly a bit more under the radar than they have in the past.

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This doesn’t mean that pros and serious players can’t take manual notes, but recreationals don’t have to worry about automatic databases being collected on them that breaks down their play on every street.

For pros and serious players, this is going to force them to have to adjust their game and start relying more on manual notes and their own reading skills rather than having a computer compile a plan of attack automatically.

Players that overly rely on software to track players are going to suffer while they learn to adapt. Those that cannot adapt will either have to move down in stakes or even abandon cash games. Again, this change does not affect tournament play, so some players might have to rely on tournaments to make a living at the game.

The Party is Over as Poker Evolves Yet Again

For years, online poker players have been able to use their wits along with the assistance of technology to try and grow an online bankroll. The best and brightest players have been able to amass millions and even less talented players have been able to enjoy a higher standard of living through their gains via online poker.

Now with the industry shifting focus to recreational players and making it difficult (and close to impossible for some) to make a living online, online poker players will yet again be forced to use their wits to make a living at poker. As many of us like to point out, poker is an ever-evolving game an this is just the latest evolution of the online game.

Poker players that want to grow a bankroll must learn a new way to make money and abandon many of the tools that helped them in the past. While this isn’t ideal for some, online poker sites are now more concerned with extracting maximum profits from recreational players than they are catering to those trying to make a living at the game.

Those that can evolve with the game will be able to survive and even thrive while the rest will be forced to move to the live game or abandon online poker altogether.

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.