Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Sunglasses ban

I could not believe my eyes when I received the following email from PokerStars Support today:

Dear Rakewell1:

As many of you know, Daniel Negreanu, a member of Team PokerStars Pro, has long advocated the prohibition of sunglasses at poker tables. Two main arguments support this position: (1) A player's face is part of the information that should be available to opponents. It's a "slippery slope" argument--if one can wear sunglasses to conceal the eyes, why not a ski mask to conceal the entire face? (2) Many cheating schemes rely on marking cards with dyes that can only be seen using special filtered lenses that look like ordinary sunglasses. Banning sunglasses removes the risk of this form of cheating.

We have heeded Daniel's advice. Viewers may have noticed that on our hit television program, "The Big Game," participants are not allowed to wear sunglasses. Though we have not emphasized this rule in the show's commentary, it was, in fact, the first step in a three-phase implementation of the practice across our products and services. We have been gratified that many viewers have noticed the absence of sunglasses on the show, and have contacted us with notes of approval and thanks for being the first televised poker program to take this step. We thought it best to lead quietly by example before placing any sort of restriction or requirement on our customers.

We are now ready for Phase 2 of this plan, which involves live tournament play. Effective January 1, 2011, all live-action tournaments sponsored by PokerStars will prohibit the use of sunglasses by any player. This includes the European Poker Tour (EPT), the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT), the Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT), the Australia New Zealand Poker Tour (ANZPT), the North American Poker Tour (NAPT), and all other tournaments that our company now sponsors or may sponsor in the future, anywhere in the world. Additionally, all members of Team PokerStars will be required to adhere to a no-sunglasses policy anytime they are playing as a representative of our site and/or wearing our logos, in cash games or in tournaments, whether or not the event is one sponsored by PokerStars.

Phase 3 of our plan is likely to be the most controversial. We have always operated with the guiding principle that online poker should emulate the rules and practices of live poker to the greatest extent possible. To that end, we have decided to extend the no-sunglasses policy to online play.

This phase will begin implementation on February 1, 2011. On that date, we will release a major update of our client software, which will search the host computer for and seamlessly integrate with built-in or add-on cameras. In combination with advanced face-recognition technology on our servers, the software will scan players' faces. If it detects sunglasses, the player will not be allowed to join any cash game or tournament. If already seated in a game when the use of sunglasses is detected, the player will automatically be forced to "sit out," and a warning will appear prominently on the screen, explaining the reason for the interruption. The player will not be allowed to rejoin the game until the system detects that the sunglasses have been removed.

We understand that not all computers and/or monitors have cameras built in or attached to them. However, all modern home computers have the capability of adding such hardware, and it can be done at very low cost. Therefore, beginning on July 1, 2011, having a camera in continuous operation will become a requirement to participate in our real-money cash games and tournaments. Players currently lacking a camera need not do anything at the moment; in follow-up communications, we will provide full technical requirements and specifications. We will also soon begin making compatible cameras available at discounted prices, and available at no cost with the use of player points through our VIP Store.

Many of you will wonder why a sunglasses ban needs to be implemented for online play. There are two primary considerations. First, we want to provide a consistent poker experience between forms of the game, and believe that it will be easier for players to adjust to the prohibition in live play if they also have the same rule enforced during online play.

Second, after consultation with security experts, we have concluded that sunglasses open an unacceptable security risk for online play. Though the possibility is remote, we have been shown incontrovertible evidence that some of the newest-generation 3-D computer monitors, when used in conjunction with specially modified polarizing sunglasses, allow a user, under certain conditions, to see through the on-screen images of card backs and discern the outlines of the faces of cards dealt to their opponents. For obvious security reasons, we cannot go into the details of how this is accomplished. Furthermore, we have no reason to believe that any of our customers have yet been adversely affected by anybody implementing such a scheme. Nevertheless, we intend to be proactive in preventing it. 3-D monitors are growing in popularity, and, as the leader in online poker security, we are proud to be the first to take steps to prevent this from becoming a security breach.

We understand that each of the measures outlined above will generate questions and controversy. Full details of each of the three phases in this program can be found here, including a "Frequently Asked Questions" section. We will continue to provide updates both there and by email as questions emerge and as the implementation dates approach.

We are committed to maintaining the safest and most secure online poker experience in the world, and appreciate your cooperation with us as we make these changes. Thank you for continuing to play at our tables, and good luck!

The PokerStars Support Team

Like I said, I literally could not believe this.


Martin said...

Nice one.

Couldn't wait until spring?

bastinptc said...

How about a "You can't play until you've cleaned your room" filter?

Crash said...


Anonymous said...

You can see your opponents cards through a computer screen? Come on now. It's not April 1st, why send this out.

matt tag said...

US players don't have to worry, PStars will be blacked out if the Reid bill goes through anyway.

They can take my sunglasses when they pry them from my cold dead hands!

zippyboy said...

That's not all. I heard effective July 1, 2011, PokerStars will begin sending electric shocks to the keyboards of anyone not in compliance with the new sunglasses laws.

Wayne W. said...

All that and a Rick Roll too? Well played, sir!

Anonymous said...

I got an email from FTP about a Breathalyzer being sent to me that must be installed to detect pot. A "performance enhancing" drug for online poker.

They want the best quality poker played so if my THC content is too low, they will send me some weed via 1 hour delivery, to get my play up where it should be.

Anonymous said...

I got an email from FTP about a Breathalyzer being sent to me that must be installed to detect pot. A "performance enhancing" drug for online poker.

They want the best quality poker played so if my THC content is too low, they will send me some weed via 1 hour delivery, to get my play up where it should be.

Anonymous said...

Pokerstars to partner with Mexican Drug Cartel.

In recognition of the similar regulatory enviroment for both poker and cocaine Pokerstars is to partner with the Gulf Cartel. Details are yet to be confirmed, but several synergies are being considered.

Pokerstars will assist the Cartel by facilitating the flows of money across international borders through their systems of confidential player to player account transfers. Also promote drug use with set of free sites will be maintained by Pokerstars -, and - where new users can learn how to perfect their high and enjoyment of illicit drugs in a safe and fun enviroment.

The Gulf Cartel is to provide cash out services to American poker players in used bills and/or product. Cheaters found on the Pokerstars servers will be referred to security associates Los Zeta. The LAPT will be back in Mexico and troble free.