PokerTableRatings, the online poker data-mining website that has for years been recording player statistics and hand histories and selling that information to players looking for an advantage over their opponents, has removed PokerStars from its list of tracked sites in response to a cease and desist letter and the threat of legal action.
In an article on their website dated April 18, PTR stands by their product as a service to the online poker community that has been responsible for “finding critical security breaches in poker software clients or publicly outing bot and collusion rings for the sake of game integrity.” PokerStars’ views the actions of PTR a bit differently, claiming that by tracking their players’ data, PTR is breaching the terms of service in place, as well as infringing on PokerStars’ intellectual property rights.
This issue has been brewing for years, with PTR allegedly refusing to honor requests of poker sites wishing to be excluded from having their players’ information tracked and sold. PTR does also allow a finite number of free player searches available to players on a daily basis. This has resulted in many players searching the success of their current table mates while playing and sometimes berating players who show huge losses, which typically creates an unpleasant playing environment.
PTR has built quite a successful business via data-mining. The database has compiled billions of hands from a number of poker sites and boasts that more than 17,000 players have used its services by buying hand histories in packages that can run from $25 up to $200. The Terms of Service at PokerStars does not allow such “external player assistance programs.” Other sites, such as Bodog, are known to also be against data-mining, which is why Bodog made their tables completely anonymous, to prevent their players’ information and hand histories to be tracked.
On the PTR website, the company claims to “still fully believe in our product and will continue to introduce new and exciting features to our customers.” However, the trend in online poker as of late has been to make the game more enjoyable for the more casual and recreational players. This coincides with sites’ such as PokerStars and Bodog not wanting player data to be tracked to give an advantage to the more savvy players who use the info to gain an edge over less experienced players. It’s very probable that other poker sites will follow the lead and request removal from the PTR database.