PokerStars is taking aim at third party software products and heads up displays (HUDs) that are giving data-minded card sharks an online poker edge. The policies are part of a larger effort to make online poker sites more friendly towards casual players.

PokerStars Sit & Go and Tournament Manager Baard Dahl introduced the proposed changes in a long, and very technical, forum posting on late last week. The gist of his statement is that PokerStars isn’t looking to ban all third party poker programs, HUDs, and other reference materials just the most sophisticated versions.

Under the new policy, simple reference programs like Nash Charts, which are similar to the basic strategy black cards you’ll find in every casino gift shop on the planet, will be allowed. What won’t be allowed are the kinds of highly sophisticated Hand or Situation Analyzers that provide real-time data based on previous outcomes.

Dahl made it clear that the proposed changes are only the beginning of what could be a major overhaul of the online poker world’s relationship with third party software. He’s specifically targeting seating programs that target weak players saying:

We are going to be looking at prohibiting all seating scripts in the future once this round of revisions has settled down and we are able to discuss the most effective solutions to limit their ongoing usage.

While hardcore poker players argue that real-time hand analyzers and seating scripts are just part of the game, poker operators think they’re bad for business. They think analytics programs are scaring off new players and will, ultimately, dry up the global player pool and are furiously fighting to keep them in check.

Other industry players, including the MicroGaming Poker Network, are implementing changes designed to thwart analytics programs such as allowing players to frequently change their screen name.

In short, this is an issue that sites like PokerStars need to get in front of, and stay in front of, if they want to insure their own long-term survival.

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