Since the Party Poker collapse last fall, Poker Stars has emerged as the indisputable leader in sheer numbers of online poker players. They have the biggest tournaments, the most active tables, the biggest cash games, and the quickest filling sit and go tournaments online. With that comes power – the power to choose your partners, affiliates, and closer to our point; acceptable software.

Long have I been recommending Holdem Hawk and Holdem Pirate (they are actually the same) poker calculators as easy to use and visibly pleasing poker calculators. Recently though, these products have pushed the boundaries of acceptable use, at least in the view of Poker Stars, and hence have been banned from use on that site. This is sad news, as a decent product, not unlike some of the acceptable software allowed by Stars, is now virtually grounded because the biggest poker site on the planet thinks it’s too closely related to an Operative Poker Calculator.

An Operative Poker Calculator is like a secret agent working for you, collecting and mining player information that you can use against them later on. The thing is, you don’t have to be at the table for this to happen. The software (database) is working all the time for you. For most poker sites, that is over the line of fairness, just as in real life as well.

But Holdem Pirate and Holdem Hawk are actually Empirical Poker Calculators, just the same as Holdem Indicator is. These types of poker calculators only collect information on your opponents when you are at the table, just like you were playing in a live situation.

So why the Poker Stars Smack? Here is an actual warning I received from Poker Stars while running Holdem Pirate:

Upon a review of your account, we find that you are running an external application known as Poker Sherlock, or its related applications, Poker Edge, PokerBotPro, Holdem Hawk and Holdem Pirate……PokerStars shall be entitled to take such action as it sees fit, including immediately blocking access to the Games to such User, terminating such User’s account with PokerStars and seizing all monies held in the relevant Poker Stars “real money account”.

Hey, did you notice the “seizing all monies” line? That’s what you can do when you are this big!

The “related applications” is the source of the problem. The company that designed Hawk and Pirate also make Poker Edge and PokerBotPro, which are data miners. In fact, I believe that Stars suspects Hawk and Pirate actually mine data for these related products, while appearing like an Empirical Poker Calculator on the surface.

So therein lays the crux of the problem. If you happen to play on Stars and have Hawk or Pirate, you are out of luck, as I have tried to reverse this ruling. I got a polite response from the staff at Poker Stars, but really, it’s not likely to change. The good news though is that Holdem Indicator has been added to Poker Stars acceptable software list, and it is the only empirical calculator to be approved by them.

By Marty Smith
Marty Smith is webmaster of where all the online poker calculators are tested and reviewed, including Sit and Go Shark, Calculatem Pro, and Poker Spy. He is also editor of that offers a free Video Strategy Series.