I was in a tournament recently with more than 700 entries on Poker Stars. It was a NL hold'em affair with a moderate $ 15 entry fee. I made it deep into the money and as the final table approached I started checking out my competition as I fully expected to be a participant.
How do I check out my competition? Well if you have been playing online poker AND living under a rock at the same time, you will know there are several well considered sources where you can submit the name of your opponent and be served up an abundance of details regarding his tournament performance. Some of the more prominent online sites that provide this service are SharkScope, ThePokerDB, and OfficialPokerRankings.
Some of the pertinent bits of information provided by these database sources are ROI, number of tournaments entered, streaks, in the money percentage, prize money won and much more. A quick scan of these statistics can easily identify your selected opponent as a strong or weak player. Combine that information with some of the tracking a tool like Tournament Indicator provides, and you can pretty much have your opponent pegged before you ever play hand with him.
Now the security at Poker Stars is top notch and indicative of the leader in online poker, as they have consistently taken (sometimes bold) steps to introduce fairness and security for all its players. This corporate mindset has now engulfed all of the database services I just mentioned here, by recently sending out a notice to those website operators outlining a new policy that essentially negates their effectiveness, as far as using it on Poker Stars anyway.
Poker Stars new position on this is that a player's privacy should extend to their win / loss and ROI records when playing at Poker Stars and is summarized in the following quotes directly from Poker Stars Security staff:
"We are implementing what the majority of players who have weighed in on this issue have asked for, and are acting in the best interests of the game."
"Many players have expected to be called out in chat by subscribers to these sites for being either heavily losing players, or for being" sharks. " . "
"A player that wants to publish his results is welcome to do so, but a player who wants to protect his privacy should be able to do so as well."
In regards to this position and others that Poker Stars has undertaken, it looks clear to me that they want to be the leader in the market not just by way of volume, but by integrity as well. I think this move blindsided some of these database operators who will now be forced to change their policies to comply with the largest, most intimidating online poker site.
One thing about Poker Stars is that with the power they have as being a dominant leader, you can at least appreciate that they have the player and your privacy utmost in their security policies. Nobody really asked them to do that, and therein shows some thoughtful, strategic planning.