It is with great disappointment that we here at Sharkscope must report that our coverage of FullTilt is currently compromised due to an apparent change in FullTilt’s policy regarding data retrieval from their site.
We here at Sharkscope have always tried to be sensitive to the needs of the poker sites we cover and have tried in earnest to maintain an open dialog, honor any requests, and obey all rules that are established regarding the use of their data. However, maintaining this type of relationship with FullTilt has been painstaking because FullTilt shows great reticence to define & communicate their rules & requests; in fact, clearly they don’t have an issue with the concept of tracking tournament results they have now stated that they are allowing OfficialPokerRankings.com to data mine their site despite the fact that that site shows very similar data to SharkScope. FullTilt is not returning emails on the subject despite sending us unsolicited details in the past on how to extract data from their poker client (and thereby encouraging us to do so).
Hence, we are very frustrated about being included in their current blocking; all we want is a clear understanding of their rules and perspective, and we’re more than happy to work with FullTilt in a positive manner that benefits all.
So far this active blocking by FullTilt has affected our coverage in specific ways. Our high stakes coverage has been relatively unaffected; however, the lower stakes coverage has been extremely poor recently. We are continuing to work on the problem and are still optimistic about restoring full coverage; but this may take some time. In the meantime there will be some changes in our coverage matrix; shortly FullTilt will be taken out of the Tournament Selector. However, we will be replacing this feature with an alternative piece of functionality that we are hoping to announce soon. All players will likely be effected by missed games in the short term, so we ask you to please bear with us. We are working as hard as we can to restore coverage. FullTilt’s policies are out of our control; we can only try to work through those policies as best as we can.
Regarding FullTilt’s current blocking policy, please note that it remains common practice for high stakes and high volume players to share hand histories to create their own massive databases and so obtain huge secret advantages over other players. There is nothing that FullTilt or any other poker site can do to prevent this practice other than take players at their word that they aren’t doing it. It makes no sense to us that FullTilt takes the position that the displaying tournament results by particular sites provides an unfair advantage to some players. Over 20% of FullTilt’s tournament players use SharkScope each month so it clearly isn’t a secret; anyone can use our free service, and anyone can completely hide their statistics if they choose to do so. We were the first site to offer the option to opt out of statistics display, and we have offered this well before any poker site has asked us to include such a feature.
SharkScope provides a wealth of features to assist players in analyzing their own statistics and comparing these statistics to other players; with an arsenal of information at their disposal, they can find leaks in their game and find out what is possible in regard to profitability for each type of game. Beyond these features, SharkScope provides a wide range of benefits to the poker community, such as facilitating staking arrangements, global leaderboards and not least in catching–and acting as a deterrent for–collusion and automated poker bots.
Whilst all the major sites do try their hardest to catch collusion rings and bots, the scope of the challenge is simply to great for them to pick up many of the situations until its too late. Nothing is as effective as a direct observer with poker knowledge at identifying unusual play patterns. With Sharkscope, observers can check their suspicions directly, searching for players playing too often together (who show a large increase in profit when they do) and bot usernames having suspicious play frequencies. SharkScope has been instrumental both publicly and behind the scenes in catching large numbers of these rings and bots on virtually all the major poker sites, including FullTilt.
We believe that while most major sites try to be as honest as possible regarding exposed cheating and try to compensate players correctly, the existence of SharkScope enforces these policies by providing incontrovertible data relevant to these situations. SharkScope provides industry-wide checks and balances, and we believe that poker community should not give that up willingly.
Hence, with all of these issues and policies in mind, we respectfully request that all online players carefully consider the option of playing at sites other than FullTilt and communicating to FullTilt your opinions and rationale about why you prefer to play elsewhere. We believe FullTilt to be responsive to their users; hopefully you can make a difference in keeping online poker a game of skill, an environment inhospitable to cheaters, and a place where you can track you and your friends performance and so motivate yourself to improve your game.