The game of poker is unlike any other casino style gambling amusement in that players have an opportunity to implement a multitude of skills to increase their profit potential. In live poker games, there’s the mental side, which offers an advantage to those who are mathematically superior, as well as psychologically adept, but online poker offers a wider range of skills that include software-based tools. Hand histories, trackers and HUDs (heads up displays) are great for any online poker strategist, but not all tools are respected by the majority.
The most recent tactical instrument in the online poker community is known as a ‘Seating Script’, and its use has created a great deal of debate. Seating scripts are designed to scan the tournament lobby for weaker, recreational players and available seats. If a recreational player takes a seat at a 2-handed table, and the seat left of that player is open, the script will instantly trigger and reserve the seat. If that new player then buys into their seat, the player using the script will do the same, putting them in an optimal position against the recreational player without having to play 3-handed against more experienced regulars.
While seating scripts sound like the perfect strategy tool for avid online poker players, there are distinct disadvantages that have drawn the ire of the community. One member of the TwoPlusTwo forums known as ‘ImJason’ expressed the issue in a clear and logical manner, stating that the more seating scripts there are being used, the more devastating the effects will be for players and the poker site.
“The seating scripts trigger each other. Once a seat is reserved, script #1 will reserve a seat, script #2 will reserve a seat, script #3 will reserve a seat and so forth,” ImJason explained. “This cycle doesn’t break no matter if a player joins or not, whether the game runs 3handed or not, the seating scripts will keep triggering each other blocking the free seats on the table.”
According to the poster, the battle of the scripts will make it “impossible to get a seat if a recreational player joins the table”. ImJason went on to say that Seating Scripts are “extremely bad for the economy.” Battling it out with “20 scripts just to get a seat in a 3handed game of regulars” will eventually deter players from those tables. In his opinion, those who will take the brunt of the loss are the online poker economy’s most treasured players; the table starters who get games going in the first place.
The discussion originated around PokerStars’ indifference to the issue, having no desire to ban seating scripts on its online poker tables. While PokerStars officials have made no comment, Alex Scott, the Head of Poker at Microgaming took notice, dedicating a lengthy blog post to the issue.
“The poker rooms on the MPN have received occasional complaints about seating scripts, and some of this feedback gets passed on to me,” Scott explained. “Incidentally, all of the complaints are from serious players, and not casual players (who are hurt the most by the use of the tools). Casual players simply aren’t aware of these scripts, and I think most would be horrified to find out about them.”
However, Scott feels that table selection is an important online poker strategy for every player and questions the right of an operator to state what should and should not be allowed. As such, he suggests players who don’t want to compete with seating scripts – or HUDs and trackers, for that matter – make use of the ‘Anonymous Tables’ at MPN. Seating scripts must use trackers to target weaker players, and since trackers cannot gather data from anonymous tables, the seating scripts cannot be used.