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The past few years have been great for the world’s leading poker company, PokerStars that has not only introduced new and attractive game variants for players, but made concrete moves to expand its reach. Right after running a hugely successful edition of its flagship PokerStars Player NLHE Championship (PSPC) in the Bahamas, the site has recently made two important changes to its international client.
PokerStars has prohibited the use of seating scripts and the change will become effective from March 1. At the same time, PokerStars has drastically shortened the time bank given to players in cash games. Effective for routine rings games and zoom games from February 5, the changes will be implemented across all licenses and cash game stakes. Tournament and other game type structures will not be affected by this change.
The global poker brand has also announced the dates for one of its most popular annual live tournament stops, the 2019 European Poker Tour (EPT) Barcelona. A full schedule will be out soon, but for now PokerStars has given details of the festival’s prelims, the €5,300 Main Event and the €1,100 EPT National.
Automated seating scripts will not be allowed on PokerStars starting March 1. The global poker company has revamped its third-party tools and services policy, and as a result seating scripts that happen to be third-party software have been banned on the site.
An automated seating script software scans the cash game tables at each online poker site and finds the user an optimal seat to pick, based on his or her preferences. Such seating scripts are usually used by cash game players while playing online since they help them avoid better players at the table and even gain a positional advantage on less skilled players.
There are different seating script softwares available for users and each script varies slightly in functionality.
A PokerStars representative said, “One such change is we will be prohibiting any tool or service for table selection efﬁciency that ﬁlters or sorts available games, or automates/semi-automates the process of joining available games based on opponent gameplay statistics or notes. For example, the use of seating scripts that join players to a set number of tables that have an average statistic for opponents above/below a certain ﬁgure, or work off pre-assigned player notes, are prohibited.”
PokerStars has reportedly informed script providers like NEED4SEAT on their policy change, and outlined the upcoming changes that will effect some utility tools, HUDs and seating scripts. Come March 1, any software that simplifies the user’s table-selections, based on data about individual players at the tables will be prohibited. Also software that notifies users when a specific player sits at a table, any tool scanning the PokerStars lobby and automatically opens tables based on the players currently seated on them, will be prohibited.
Several script makers have already started processing changes to ensure their software complies with PokerStars’ new rules.
Close to the heels of banning seating scripts, PokerStars has brought in another big change in its software. It is shortening of time banks for an effective expedition of cash games. This applies to both, routine rings games and zoom games, and the changes will become effective from February 5 across all licenses and all cash game stakes. However, there will be no such change made to tournaments and other game types for now.
Director of poker innovation and operation at The Stars Group (TSG), Severin Rasset announced the change in his latest blog.
“The poker economy is complex, to say the least. There are a vast number of factors to weigh when considering a change and we are confident that the changes will be beneficial for the long-term health of the game,” Rasset stated.
“We are confident that there will still be plenty of time to make key decisions while simply reducing the average time spent waiting,” he added.
At present, players get 18 seconds to act preflop in case they are not facing a raise, and 25 seconds to act when facing a raise and on post-flop actions. However, under the new settings, these time banks will be shortened to 10 seconds and 15 seconds respectively. In effect, time to act will get cut down by 44% and 40% in the two instances.
In Stud games, longer times to act will begin on fourth street, as well as after the draw in single draw and after the first draw in triple draw.
Further on, players’ time banks will be drastically reduced. The time bank gets activated whenever a player needs more than the allotted time to act. While players get 30 seconds in the bank to start and the bank then slowly increases to a maximum of 600 seconds if play carries on for a long session, the new maximum bank is just 10% of these previous figures i.e. 30 seconds preflop and 60 seconds post-flop. The starting bank is now 15 seconds, with five seconds added for every 10 hands played.
Notably, PokerStars has announced several measures in the past to improve the speed of its online games and to give them a more action-packed and fast run. While in mid-2018, the site announced a measure to limit multi-tabling to six tables, in December, the site cut down the maximum orbits that players can sit out from five to three.
“During our tests, we found that players would often take a lot of time to act in simple situations, mainly unopened pots preflop, because they were engaged in making decisions at other tables. Understandably, this was frustrating opponents on every table, ” Rasset had explained.
According to PokerStars these change led to a 9% increase in hands per hour, a result that made the site work on honing its time bank allowances further.
European Poker Tour (EPT) Barcelona is one of most popular live stops by PokerStars and while the full schedule for the stop’s run in 2019 is yet to be disclosed, the global poker giant has come out with dates for the festival along with details of four key events.
According to a PokerStars’ announcement on Tuesday, the EPT Barcelona will run from August 20 to September 1. Starting from the prelims, that will feature a Main Event and a High Roller, the festival itself will feature a number of tournaments of various buy-ins.
Alongside the marquee €5,300 Main Event, the stop is also bringing back the hugely popular €1,100 EPT National. The EPT National will run from August 21-25. In recent years, the event has drawn in over 4,000 entrants, making it one of the biggest live tournaments in Europe.
“Spain has a vibrant poker community and we’re eager to continue to develop events, promotions and competitions that feed their poker passion,” Director of Poker Marketing, Eric Hollreiser said.
Notably, EPT Barcelona will be the third stop on the EPT roster this year after EPT Sochi in March and EPT Monte Carlo in April.
In Spain apart from the 2019 EPT Barcelona, PokerStars is also organizing the 2019 EPT Open Madrid this year. The festival was last hosted in 2011. EPT Open Madrid will be held at Casino Gran Madrid in Spain on June 22. The series will feature the open format offering lower buy-ins, with the Main Event buy-in fixed at €1,100.
The 2019 EPT Barcelona will be preceded by prelims at Casino Barcelona under the banner of Campeonato Espana de Poker (CEP).
These prelims aka CEP Barcelona will be hosted from August 12-20 and feature a €500 Main Event (August 14-18) and a €1,100 High Roller (August 19-20). Alongside the packed tournament schedule, a number of satellites and cash games will run at the Casino Barcelona.
Last year, CEP regular Ramon Colillas had won his entry into the 2019 PokerStars Players NLHE Championship (PSPC) by earning points at the stop. Colillas eventually went on to win the 2019 PSPC for a life-changing $5.1 Million.
“Ramon Colillas is inspiring a new generation of Spanish players who want to join the poker community and have opportunities to compete with him for potential big wins,” Hollreiser said.
|CEP Barcelona Main Event||Aug 14-18||€ 500
|CEP Barcelona High Roller||Aug 19-20||€ 1,100
|EPT National||Aug 21- 25||€ 1,100
|EPT Main Event||Aug 26-Sept 1||€ 5,300