Daniel Negreanu Rants About Seating Scripts

High-stakes pro Daniel Negreanu has gone on a rant about the use of seating scripts in a recent podcast video. Also, Unibet has gone more recreational player focussed after removing their highest stakes cash tables.


Predatory Behaviour

The tale surrounded a couple of sessions Daniel Negreanu played on Pokerstars on the $50/$100 cash tables. Negreanu saw that no games were running at that size, but thought if he sat on an empty table then maybe some of the high-stakes regs would sit and give him some action. After all, it is well known that he favours the tournament environment over the toughest cash games.

What happened next possibly didn’t come as a surprise given that most of us in the know about the online game understand how this all works now. As Negreanu sat down, he estimated that it took three quarters of a second for all of the remaining seats to fill at the table. This is obviously incredible to witness if you are new to the scene. We’re also not just talking about the highest of the high-stakes tables, this predatory behaviour is going on through the mid stakes as well. Just how is it possible for tables to fill this fast?

The answer is, of course, that these players arriving on your table so quickly are using expensive seating scripts. They are not sat there all day with their mouse pointer at the ready waiting for you to sit down. These software packages are designed to automatically sit the player down at what is predicted to be a profitable table. This may be due to a number of different conditions, but one of them is that a perceived “fish” has just arrived.

This sounds ridiculous as Negreanu has won more money playing poker tournaments than anybody else in the world, but clearly the high-stakes cash regs feel that he is a weak player, and have therefore set their software up to target him when he arrives to play.

As it happened, both sessions totalled about 500 hands, with the first netting around $30,000, and the second $10,000. So Negreanu wasn’t so upset after all was said and done, and he even allowed himself a little tongue-in-cheek dig at those who he had beaten.


Why Is This a Problem?

Seating scripts are not new. In fact, as long as four years ago Pokerstars began to speak about implementing an outright ban on their use. A representative posted on the TwoPlusTwo forums to announce that action was finally being taken against this nuisance.

“As an immediate measure we intend to implement a limit on the number of times a player can reserve a seat at a given table without playing. We don’t expect this to solve all the issues, but we expect it to improve the situation while we review the situation in more depth.

We hope this measure will end the scenario that results in tables being “locked out” by scripts perpetually reserving seats without intending to play and will reduce the overall effectiveness of seat scripts. But we also want to set the limit such that it will minimize the impact on players who are not using scripts. “

But is this all really a problem? All of us are quite entitled to sit out and walk away from any game if we feel outmatched. This is in fact what most solid professionals do. We can’t all be the best at our stakes, and sometimes have to switch tables if we ourselves are being preyed upon.

Others profess that players taking advantage in this manner are creating an environment that is less fun, and are actively discouraging weak regs from playing on that particular site.


What Is the Solution?

Now, in 2018, we are facing the prospect of what is called “Seat Me” as some kind of solution to this predatory behaviour.

Already being tested on the Spanish and French servers, Seat Me is the only way to get a seat at a cash game table. No longer will you be able to flick through the list of tables to try and find the best seat possible. Now, where you sit will be totally random.

It’s not the end of the world, of course, but it’s just one more piece of the game that skilled players use to gain an edge that is being removed from play. Negreanu’s thoughts on the matter were displayed on Twitter.

“If it were up to me I would 100% ban seat scripts. The seat me option being tested should work, especially with the penalty system, but I don't think seat scripts should be allowed anyway.”

Are Pokerstars really thinking about what is best for the online poker community as a whole, or are they doing everything they can to make their games as unbeatable as they can without losing their customers?

Joey Ingram made a follow up video lambasting the current state of the high-stakes online poker scene. He suggested that he was willing to put together a team of people to try and come up with ideas on how to make the situation a lot more healthy that it is right now.


Unibet Removes High-Stakes Tables

Unibet have also made changes this year, after removing their highest stakes cash tables from the lobby. All tables with buy-ins higher than €400 are now gone.

Many of you will laugh at the thought that these are high-stakes, but it still makes the point of where the site’s focus is right now.

David Pomroy, Head of Poker at Unibet said in a statement

“Our main priority has always been to safeguard the ecology of our site as everything we do is ultimately built on that foundation. The addition of NL €800 and PL €800 had contributed to short-handed games and slightly faster loss rates of recreational players at our higher stakes.”


So there we have it. Times are changing, and the predatory environment will soon be a thing of the past. Or will it?