Poker Stars, the dominating force and market share leader is about to take even more steps to make sure that all of it's players enjoy the fairest playing environment on the internet. Already with the strictest policy in regards to third party assistant software the security department at Poker Stars has decided that they need to go farther due to recent changes in the third party programming market.
The changes referred to, are an increasing amount of third party designers creating products that blatantly market and claim to have a dishonest edge for users when utilizing their software while playing online poker for real money.
Last year, I was trying a product called Poker Edge for review while during my testing a window came up from my poker table alerting me to stop using the software. I later received an email saying that if I continued to use Poker Edge or related products my account and the funds in it will be designated by Poker Stars. I was just testing for less than an hour when that happened.
I later obtained information from Poker Stars administration as to why Poker Edge was not allowed and they clearly demonstrated to me its black hat programming that actually mines data via a community of users. This data, which can display an opponent of style of play and cash win / loss record can be used by the software user to his advantage. The idea is that you can join a table of players unknown to you and sit down with a dossier of information and history of those players that have happened to be tracked by others who have played with them before.
This crosses the line as far as Poker Stars is concerned as an unlimited advantage, and you can lose your account and funds for using Poker Edge and others like it.
To take the fairness issue even further, previously accepted poker calculators like Calculatem Pro WinHoldem, and Poker Pro 2007 which offer "bot" like bet, raise, check, or fold recommendations will also likely become banned as those features fall under a newly phrased black -hat issue called "programmable profiles" which essentially refers to a software's ability of offering advice to the user based on an opponent's style of play.
When you download software from a poker site with the intent of playing online, you also agree to terms during the download process. One of those implicit terms is that the site, in this case Poker Stars has the power to scan your hard drive when they see fit. You could very well assume this is random "crawling" but the speed of which Stars knows you are using black hat software leads me to believe it is much more frequent than random scans.
I think the brain trust at Poker Stars correctly realizes it needs to set the standard in this issue as part and parcel to help maintain its now dominating market share. Other sites like Full Tilt, Absolute, and Ultimate should take note here. In the long run Poker Stars has it right in believing that this issue will be an underlining motivation to play at any given poker website.