According to a report from PokerFuse, partypoker is on the verge of prohibiting the use of heads-up displays (HUDs), a move that it hopes will make the poker experience more enjoyable for recreational players.
HUDs are overlays on the poker table produced by third-party poker tracking software. Historically, online poker rooms have made personal hand histories available via text files saved on the hard drive. The poker tracking software (also called hand tracking software; name brands include Hold’em Manager and PokerTracker) reads these files and populates a database to provide the user with all sorts of information on their poker playing. This information includes what opponents have done. The software can then put on a HUD on the virtual table, showing selected opponent information so that the user has a better idea of how his competition may act.
The controversy here is that while this software is available to anybody who wants to pay for it (prices range from $60 to $160 or thereabouts), recreational players are often unaware of such a product and if they are, they are not usually willing to spend money on something that they would not use. HUDs and the like tend to be the arena of poker pros and very serious amateurs, not the casual player who just wants to hop online for an hour before bed.
As such, the best players have an even greater advantage over their weaker opponents, one that extends beyond just how good they are at poker. The wider the gap between “sharks” and “fish” grows, the less fun the rec players have and, in turn, the less likely they are to reload and return to the poker room.
Because of this, partypoker has allegedly decided to ban all HUDs. PokerFuse writer Anuj Arora got this information from partypoker rep Colette Stewart in her site’s Discord support chat room. There was word in March that this might happen, but she confirmed it, saying the change was coming down in the first week of May (other reports are putting that date a few weeks later, but no matter). She added that partypoker would provide its own hand replayer (presumably built into the partypoker client) so that customers could still review their hands.
On top of banning HUDs, Stewart said that hand histories would no longer be available to download, which would not only remove the source of data for HUDs, but would also be a major hit on poker tracking software, in general, even when used for personal analysis. Software developers would have to come up with another way to gather the information. Stewart did say that “limited” third-party software would be allowed, but gather no further details.
Stewart also said that when the changes are implemented, players will be required to choose a new screenname, something that will likely anger many customers. The reason for such a directive would be to further foil third-party tracking software, as any data they would have on players would be useless without the screennames to go with it.