With each passing year, the internet gambling industry sees immense progress in technology, legislative acceptance and global expansion. This year, online poker software in particular experienced a surge of technological developments and policy changes that had an immense impact on the way games are played.
The most significant stories stemmed from some of the industry’s most prominent online poker networks, including PokerStars, PartyPoker and Microgaming (MPN).
We’ll take a look at the top 3 online poker software developments of 2015.
MPN supports Anonymity via Name Changes
In recent years, online poker operators have shifted gears, focusing on their recreational player base instead of catering specifically to pros and daily grinders. Bodog spearheaded the ‘anonymous player’ movement years back, and while Microgaming chose not to copy that format, they did give players the ability to change their screen names on a fairly regular basis.
As of 2015, playing online poker on any member-site of MPN (formerly Microgaming Poker Network) gives them the option of changing their screen name every 30 days, or every time they participate in 1,000 real-money hands, whichever comes first.
PokerStars Alters Third Party Software Policy
The world’s largest online poker site made a huge move in 2015 when it decided to change its third party software policy, officially banning some features of advanced HUDs.
The move stemmed from mass debate revolving around a third-party software program developed and utilized by “Skier_5”. The program provided automated assistance in heads-up poker games.
Upon investigation, PokerStars stated that the software was not prohibited under the operator’s existing third-party software policy. However, the online poker site soon altered the policy to ban the use of certain types of aids in HUDs, including the program previously used by “Skier_5”.
PartyPoker Bans HUDs, Seating Scripts and Hand Histories
As 2015 was nearing its end, the most significant online poker software story of all reached its climax. PartyPoker, which has operations across Europe and North America, made the highly-controversial decision to ban all forms of Heads-Up Displays (HUDs) and seating scripts.
The online poker giant requested that the developers of third party software systems discontinue support of the PartyPoker platform. They took their new stance against pro poker sharks one step further, prohibiting the download of hand histories by players on the network.
Members were reasonably disgruntled by the decision for two primary reasons. First of all, it prevented them from analyzing their past game play in an effort to improve their skills on the virtual felt. More importantly, the cessation of hand histories eliminated the opportunity to investigate suspected cheating.
Throughout the years, many of the biggest online poker cheating scandals were originally uncovered by players who suspected they were being ripped off by other players. By comparing their own hand histories with those of other players who felt they had been cheated, they were able to gather enough evidence to present to the online poker operator, resulting in a formal investigation.
Now, thanks to the new policy, PartyPoker will be solely responsible for investigating matters brought to their attention by players. But without the support of pre-gathered evidence, the operator is more likely to disregard the majority of claims.