Unfair Advantage Policy

We are committed to taking all reasonable measures, and to do so immediately, to prevent anything that either diminishes the fun you have playing at our site or that gives another player an unfair advantage over you when you play against them.

To this end, we forbid all unfair practices (including the use of certain types of online poker-related programs). We do this to protect our customers and the integrity of our systems.

What are unfair practices?

Unfair practices are any practice (including but not limited to the use of BOTs, AI, multiple account use and/or practices conducted in collaboration with other players) carried out by one or more players, with one or more accounts which could put any other player not engaging in such activity at a competitive disadvantage where the unfairness in such activity is due to its success being based to some extent on concealment and/or deception against such players. One way of thinking about this is to consider whether a group of peers, when presented with information about the practice, would overwhelmingly consider that practice to be unfair.

Examples of practices we deem to be unfair (please note that this list is not exhaustive but simply illustrative of the types of practices we will always consider unfair):

1. Multiple accounts:

One person having multiple accounts, whether in the player's name or another name, for the sole purpose of playing both accounts at the same time, whether at the same or different tables. In any event, it is not permitted to have more than one account according to our Terms and Conditions.

2. Collusion:

Two or more players sharing and using their combined knowledge to gain an advantage over other players at a table.

3. Rating manipulation:

Players intentionally losing games on low-stakes tables to keep their rank at a lower level than it would otherwise be.

4. Extracting player profiles:

Certain companies offer for sale programs specifically created to extract player profiles and then sell them in the form of enormous player databases with the promise that anyone who purchases these programs can use this information to their advantage against other players invisibly gathering information about you and then selling it to others to use when they play against you online.

These programs are based on player hand histories and they typically use the following methods: screen-scraping, reading "Dealer Chat" and accessing hand histories directly from individual player's computers using the program.

5. The Use of "BOTS":

Certain companies offer for sale programs ("BOTS") specifically created to play a game in place of an actual (human) player and conceal its use from the other players and avoid detection by the online gaming site. These programs are marketed by explicitly promising the prospective purchaser-user an unfair advantage over other online players not using that program.

Do we forbid/discourage all online programs?

No, definitely not. Our own website provides programs for playing online. Our objective, however, is in providing and promoting a level playing field and the best possible user experience for all of our Players.

How do you distinguish between forbidden and permitted categories of programs? Isn't it true that many of these programs are for training and improving gaming skills?

Programs that give a player an advantage over others are not something we wish to forbid. Advantage is not the same issue an unfair advantage is and we see that as deception. And so is invasion of privacy and data theft.

To begin with, our basis for distinction is not whether a particular program gives the user an advantage over non-using players, nor is it based on the particular content.

To us, the key factors that define the class of programs we seek to eliminate from use on the site are: deception and breach of our customers' privacy.

Nevertheless, what our customers want will always remain the primary influence on what we do about this. So for instance, we have no doubt that anything that compromises the integrity of the game or that erodes our customers' confidence about whether they will be unfairly disadvantaged while playing on our site must be eliminated. And it's there that we direct our efforts. But our customers will always have the last word about what it is they want to play and against whom. So if our customers want to play against BOTS, then we will seriously consider this request. But again, the bottom line is that we will do whatever it takes to ensure that our customers are not deceived and that their privacy is not violated.

Instead, what we're talking about here are programs which: (i) advertise as a key feature that the buyer/user will gain an unfair advantage (quite often they even use the word "cheat") over the other players in other words, they promise to help a player to cheat; or (ii) their use by the buyer/user is intended to remain concealed from the other players and from the "operator" (i.e., the online gaming room); or (iii) steal legally protected material (e.g., player identities) that violate International Copyright Laws as well as Privacy Laws.

Granted, some of the companies who make programs that we deem "forbidden" (i.e., that satisfies the criteria above) claim that the purpose of their programs is not to assist a player to cheat an online game but rather as a training aid (even though they might concede that an unscrupulous user could indeed use it for the purpose of cheating). Think for a moment about this claim. What other plausible reason is there to make and sell programs promised to give you an unfair advantage and at the same time remain concealed from the other players and the online room and actually take the place of a player at the online table but in a way undetectable by anyone else. That aside, emphasising one attribute to advertise their programs ("to cheat") but disavowing that attribute entirely in every other instance is dishonest to say the least and certainly does nothing to help the image of our industry.

So if these companies who make such claims were honest, they would disable the functionality that allows use of the program to be concealed as since doing so would not compromise its claimed value.

What counter-measures are we taking to prevent the use of BOTS?

Our efforts can be divided into three separate categories: (i) identification & detection; (ii) warning/suspending offending users; and (iii) additional measures through enlarged customer choice.

Identification and detection counter-measures are in-place now and have been for some time. These efforts will continue to improve - so that we're able to more precisely detect existing BOTS but more importantly, so that as new BOTS are created/released, we can also prevent those from eroding the experience when on the website.

The use of certain programs and their websites on our systems are blocked outright. These are: WinHoldem, Holdem Memory, PokerBot plus, PokerEdge, Poker Prophecy, Poker Sherlock, PokerBot Pro, Snowie Backgammon, JellyFish Backgammon, BGBlitz, 3DFibs and GNU Backgammon.

Once identified, a player using programs in this Forbidden Category will usually be notified. In that notice, we will explain what we believe this player is doing and what steps we will take if he or she does not stop doing it immediately. In the most extreme cases, we are prepared to suspend their account and confiscate the funds in that account without prior notice.

Do the efforts involve "data mining" or other intrusive means to access/read files on my computer as part of these efforts?

Yes and indeed we want you to know that we do this and what particular data we're looking for and also why we need to. Perhaps the best way to explain this is by contrast to the most well-known form of data mining i.e., what Google, Yahoo, AOL and others like them are doing gathering data about the user for (among other reasons) purely commercial purposes (i.e., to sell a user profile to online advertisers). Now consider what we do. Our automated software reports on any processes or programs running on your computer that have been identified as prohibited software falling within our policy. We do not scan your hard drive or take screen shots from your machine. The very limited data that is provided to us is used only to query player's computers while they're playing at our tables, solely for the purpose of detecting use of the offending type of software we're talking about here. This type of monitoring remains one of the key counter-measures against the abuses caused by BOTS which we believe are against the interests of our players. To find out more about our general policy with regard to data processing, please see our Privacy Policy.

Consequences of Unfair Practices:

Where we, at our absolute discretion, determine an unfair practice has taken place (whether an advantage has been gained or not), the person or persons responsible for that practice will face one or all of the following consequences:

  • We may e-mail the offender(s) and demand the immediate cessation of all unfair practices.
  • We may suspend the offending account(s) for the purposes of conducting a thorough investigation into the unfair practices.
  • Ultimately, we reserve the right, at our sole discretion, to terminate the offending account(s) indefinitely and for all funds in the account(s) to be forfeited (see section 5, 19, and 21 of our Terms and Conditions of Use)

Modified/Created 18.12.2012.