4/19/2012 :  POKER TABLE RANKINGS BACKS OFF ON POKERSTARS
 
The legal threat works this time
 
In a follow up to a Pokerstars threat of legal action earlier this week, it appears that the data mining and selling site Poker Table Rankings has backed away from a confrontation.
 
On Wednesday the data miner published a notice advising that it has removed Pokerstars player profiles from its database.
 
"Whether we are providing replays of infamous hot streaks, colossal downswings, finding critical security breaches in poker software clients or publicly outing bot and collusion rings for the sake of game integrity, PokerTableRatings has had a long history of being actively involved in the online poker community," the site notes in an apparent attempt to put the best face on its back-off.
 
"Recent contact by Stars has led to the removal of this network’s player profiles from PTR. The current management team of PTR has been in place for just under a year and since day 1 we have been exploring ways to compromise with brands in order to create positive relationships for the betterment of the community.
 
"Through these valued partnerships we have created innovative promotions and features for our users and have many more in development. Unfortunately we have been unable to gain communication with Stars during this time and it has come to a hostile dissolution of service for this brand. They have taken formal action against us and we will comply with their demands and have the brand removed from the site."
 
The notice reveals that the most contentious aspects of PTR as far as Pokerstars is concerned seem to be player stats, but it notes:
 
"However when compared to widely-accepted poker HUDs from other software providers, we believe the differences are negligible. Tools exist to give advantages to players who know how to use them and who are willing to pay for them, plain and simple and these will not go away. Players will always be looking for advantages and we are just one of many services offering an advantage.
 
"That said, we will fully adhere to the cease and desist notice by Stars, though we do not believe that we are a disservice to the online poker community. We continue to search and most importantly detect bot rings month after month and provide information about these true game-breaking activities to brands that care about the integrity of their games. We’ve provided unrivaled publicity to players who have gone on to become sponsored celebrities of the online poker world and we have given all players a public forum to show off their impressive wins or gain sympathy for their crushing defeats."
 
Earlier this week Lee Jones, the head of home games at Pokerstars, made it known publicly that the giant online poker provider has sent a "cease and desist" letter to PTR and had assembled an international legal team to sue the company if it did not comply.
 
In a subsequent interview with the poker information site Poker News, Jones said:
 
"We believe that a poker player shouldn’t have information and data about his opponents except from hands he’s actually played. This is particularly important to protect new and/or weak players, who often don’t even know that they’re sitting in their opponents’ cross-hairs."
 
He added that a small – but noticeable – boorish crowd routinely tells weaker players at their table how bad they are, based on data-mined statistics.
 
"This creates an unpleasant environment and is bad for the players, bad for the game, bad for everybody. We have a responsibility as the leading enterprise in this industry to stop that kind of abuse," Jones said, revealing that previous technology based attempts to halt PTR had been circumvented.
 
He also pointed out that attempts to persuade PTR to adopt an "opt-in" approach to using player data had met with failure.
 
Jones said that Pokerstars had persuaded one ISP to drop PTR, but the data miner had simply registered with an alternative provider.
 
"We’ve been at this for two or three years – this is not a new effort," Jones told Poker News. "We will have their new ISP take them down again.
 
“The bottom line: we, as poker players, and the poker community at large agree that uncontrolled distribution of online poker player results is bad business and a violation of our terms of service. We will take whatever steps are necessary – both technical and legal – to prevent it from continuing.
 
"We will make it extremely difficult for them to do business."