PartyPoker anonymizes hand histories, bans seating scripts

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GVC Holdings’ PartyPoker brand is taking further steps toward improving its online poker ecology, including anonymizing player hand histories.

On Tuesday, PartyPoker announced a further round of changes to its cash game rules, following up on changes made in October 2015. Those changes included masking the names of opponents until players were seated at their table and the first hand was dealt, as well as prohibiting players from downloading and saving hand histories.

The new changes, which take effect Oct. 5, reverse the prohibition on downloading hand histories but, while a player’s own screen name will remain visible in these downloads, opponents’ names will be listed anonymously (Player 1, 2, 3, etc.). Players will retain the ability to view hands played, win rates and such, but cannot automatically compile detailed stats on a specific opponent.

PartyPoker’s hand history switcheroo will be less effective than the fully anonymous poker tables pioneered by the Bodog Poker Network’s Jonas Ödman in 2011, but PartyPoker’s recreational players will have reason to feel slightly more safe from the network’s data mining predators.

PartyPoker’s other big change is the complete prohibition of the use of seating scripts. After Oct. 5, any PartyPoker player caught using such scripts will be given a warning notice, while a second infraction will result in the closure of their account.

PartyPoker’s Tom Waters said the changes were intended to “offer a level playing field that allows players of all abilities to compete fairly.” Anonymizing hand histories will provide players with “a fair and ethical product whilst still allowing them to learn and improve.”

PartyPoker had been on a long, uninterrupted decline since exiting the US market in 2006 following passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, to the point that Bwin.party CEO Norbert Teufelberger said last last year that the company had basically given up trying to revive the brand.

But PartyPoker has been on an uptick ever since GVC Holdings acquired Bwin.party in September 2015, spurred by the decision to re-enter 21 markets from which Bwin.party had yanked PartyPoker several years earlier. This month, GVC said PartyPoker’s H1 revenue was actually ahead of H1 2016’s figure in constant currency terms.

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