Poker rooms vs. grinders: Terms and conditions exposed
We all accept terms and conditions when we download and install any software. It is an endless document that nobody reads, but you must accept it before doing anything. The same applies when creating a gaming account in an online poker room. Hidden in the terms and conditions, some clauses can seriously affect you, as any breach can lead to the seizure of funds and bans.
Terms and conditions of the major poker networks
For this exercise, we reviewed the terms and conditions of the five major poker networks:
First, some general notes on T&C:
- The terms and conditions are a binding legal document that all parties must comply with at all times;
- The poker room may change the T&C without prior notice, so make sure to double-check before installing any third-party software or deploy a new strategy;
- People living in the same place (grinder houses, for example) may face complications as the poker room can prevent registration to avoid multi-accounting and ghosting. Be careful if you live with other players and ask this question to the poker room before playing;
- The site always transfers to you the responsibility to fulfill with local laws, including geographical restrictions;
- A poker room can always request documents to verify your data, including passport, driver's license, utility bill, etc. GGPoker even states that such documents can be requested notarized (it is not common, but it is written like this);
- All poker rooms include a clause that does not allow anything that gives players an unfair advantage, so if a practice is not listed in the T&C, it doesn't mean it's allowed;
- All sites prohibit "bonus abuse".
Artificial intelligence is considered a significant threat to the online poker industry. Robots have already killed online chess, and many have anticipated that bots will do the same with poker. This is a bit of a stretch in our opinion.
All poker rooms prohibit the use of bots, seating scripts, solvers, and WPN goes a bit further by adding real-time analysis tools and player nickname targeting.
In general, the principle of the the AI clause is to prohibit the use of any tool that provides an unfair advantage while playing, with a particular focus on the means to make not-human decisions.
Game Theory Optimal (GTO) lives up to its name. In short, it's the best way to play, and of course it's related to the use of advanced math.
GGPoker leads the fight against GTO and has the most extensive restrictions on their terms.
"A third-party tool is prohibited if it:
Analyses specific hand histories or User-defined situations using simulations, e.g., range calculation, Nash Equilibrium, ICM equity, solvers;
Reference source that provides advice on advanced situations, such as relative position, stack size, opponent range, whether to call or raise, or exact proportions of hands to play (e.g., Nash chart, GTO chart, or similar tools)."
This clause may explain the massive wave of recent bans of GTO players who stated using printed charts or even learned all the information in them.
partypoker officially says that they "are happy with players using tools," but they strictly prohibit using some of them while the client is running. The list includes but is not limited to:
- Vision GTO Trainer
- Holdem Indicator
- Omaha Indicator
- Stud Indicator
- Tournament Indicator
GTO is not mentioned in iPoker and WPN T&C, while Chico states that range simulators, ICM, and Nash Equilibrium tools are not allowed.
Something that draws our attention is that Chico also restricts "tools to ease referral to reference material," which may refer to the use of printed charts.
There are many standard practices used by regs at the tables that don't require any third-party tools but are still forbidden by poker rooms to "preserve the ecosystem."
- Ratholing: leaving a table after winning a massive pot to rejoin with a smaller stake. GGPoker and partypoker do not allow it, but other sites restrict this practice without mentioning it in the T&C.
- Grimming: also known as buttoning or angle-shooting, it's the practice of playing one hand at a HU table to leave after that single hand. It's strictly not allowed by GGPoker, WPN, and Chico.
- Bum hunting: choosing games only against fish and avoid playing with the regs. GGNetwork and partypoker refer to this in their T&C, but it's widely known that no modern poker rooms accept this practice.
- Chip-dumping: losing hands for the purpose of transferring chips in cash games or tournaments. Every poker network strictly restricts this practice.
- Queueing: partypoker is the only site that refers to this. Queueing is when a player(s) tries to bypass the random seating policies.
The use of third-party software (except for bots and automated scripts that were addressed before) is also changing in online poker.
A few years ago, almost all sites approved the use of HUDs and tracking software, but to balance the ecosystem, many poker rooms have chosen to add restrictions to their software policies.
GGPoker is the strictest site, as it only allows third-party tools to assist in table arrangement and setting hotkeys.
partypoker only allows the use of the following tools and all other software is prohibited:
- Table Tamer
- Mosaic 2
- Universal Replayer
iPoker and WPN only state that any tool that gives unfair advantage while playing is forbidden.
Chico Network allows the use of basic equity calculators, static visualization charts, HUD, tracking software, and hotkey scripts, and clearly restrict any artificial intelligence program, solvers, automated tools, etc.
Prohibited while playing: reference material that provides advice goes beyond a basic level, such as an extensive collection of printed charts that offer recommendations beyond whether to play certain hands or not in unopened pots.
Hand histories and HUDs
iPoker and WPN are 100% HUD-friendly, while Chico has a catch in its T&C: they approve the use of trackers and HUDs, but don't allow the use of hand history converters, which are necessary to run HM3 or PT4.
The reason for this is that Chico states that "stats displayed must not be based on the current hand in play."
On the other hand, GGPoker and partypoker prohibit the use HUDs.
All sites allow players to download hand histories, but GGNetwork and party anonymize all information on villains.
GGPoker, partypoker, and Chico Poker don't allow data mining (using hands where the grinder didn't participate).
VPN / Proxies
Winning Poker and iPoker don't mention the use of VPN / proxies on their T&C, while GGNetwork, partypoker, and Chico clearly state the use of such tools is not permitted. Party goes further and also prohibits the use of virtual machines.
|Poker network/Term||Artificial intelligence||GTO tools||Table etiquette||Datamining||VPN / Proxy||Third-party tools||HUD|
GTO Chart, Nash chart, range calculation, nash equilibrium, ICM equity, solvers
Ratholing, grimming, Bum hunting, Chip-Dumping, Collusion
Only allowed if assists in tiling/aligning tables, hotkeys
List of GTO tools prohibited while the partypoker client is running
Chip-dumping, scripting, collusion, bum-hunting, queueing
Not allowed, including Virtual machines
List of approved tools.
HM/PT can be open, but won't work in real-time
Seating scripts, real-time analysis, player nickname targeting/labeling
Chip-dumping, grimming, collusion
Seating scripts, solvers, charts
Range simulators, ICM, Nash Equilibrium, tools to ease referral to reference material
Chip-dumping, collusion, multi-accounting, grimming, blocking tables
List of permitted software categories
Although knowing the terms and conditions is an important task, a person is unlikely to read a 10-word document when creating a gaming account.
If you intend to heavy-grind on a site or use any particular strategy or software, we recommend that you review it individually under the current T&C, not forgetting that the term "unfair advantage" is extensive and can lead to account ban.
For recreational players, the most critical clauses refer to how to clear bonuses.
Our expert team will guide you through terms and conditions to advise you whether a practice is allowed or not on any poker network:
Email: [email protected]
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