Today I'm going to discuss the huge elephant in the poker rooms - the use of datamined hands (hands that you purchased or traded for that you did not participate in). I was looking at PokerTableRatings the other day and was surprised to see that almost ELEVEN THOUSAND players have purchased datamined hands thru them. There are probably a half dozen to dozen sites selling datamined hands. Having datamined hands is not allowed according to the poker sites' Terms of Service, as it gives an unfair informational advantage. I'm going to assume people who play micros aren't likely to pony up multiple buy-ins for hand histories, so most of the customers are probably playing small to high stakes - the stakes I play. Unfortunately, the pool of players in mid to high stakes is not that large. So it wouldn't be too crazy to assume that many of the "new" regs (later post) I see almost daily have hands on me that I have not played with them. And there are probably hundreds (if not thousands) of people sharing hand histories.
Before this sounds like a whine post, I'm not going to hold it against someone for having improper hand histories (even tho it is an unfair advantage). The competitive situation is such that the games are getting harder, and there is to my knowledge no effective efforts by the sites to curb the use of inappropriate hands. So even tho it is against the sites' terms of service to use datamined hands, nothing is being done about it. Any time you have a law and there is no enforcement, it is pretty much the same as not having the law. This situation is somewhat similar to steroids in baseball a few years ago - when you feel like your peers are gaining an unfair edge on you in a competitive situation, you feel like you need to level the playing field.
Online poker is still a relatively new industry, and as such, it's going to have some growing pains. However, datamining has been a problem the entire two years that I've been playing online poker. In those two years, the problem has probably gotten worse. I think the sites need to do one of two things - either (1) enforce the anti-datamining rules they have, or (2) ALLOW datamining for everyone. The current policy just creates a horrific situation where rule-benders benefit and rule-followers are punished. As with any situation where the public can not police themselves, a higher authority (the sites) need to step in and make any necessary changes to ensure that there is a fair playing field for all.
For now, I play mostly Rush (which can't be datamined). Unfortunately, 2/4 rush may be going away next month. Let's keep our fingers crossed that it doesn't.