Do HUDs Have a Future in Online Poker?

5 years ago
Do HUDs have a future in online poker?
02 Nov

There’s a battle brewing in the online poker world. At the centre is the HUD – short for heads-up display – a piece of software that sits on top of your poker client providing real-time stats on your opponents. Some third-party software goes even deeper, providing features like seat scripting that automatically puts you on the softest tables going. And you thought poker was played on a level playing field?

The battle lines are set. On the one side are the professional grinders who multi-table and rely on HUDs to keep track of their opponents. They say HUDs don’t make them better players, they just enable them to play more tables. HUDs can only be used on sites that allow them, they argue, so anyone can use them. Take away my HUD, is the message, and my winrate – and eventually the poker ecosystem – will suffer.

Poker sites used to cater to high-volume pros like this but the recreational player is now king – and most of them don’t know what a HUD is. Unibet and Sky Poker were two of the first sites to ban HUDs, but in the past few weeks partypoker has joined them and PokerStars announced a change to its policy on third-party software. It held back from banning HUDs completely, instead outlining new rules that included the following: ‘HUDs are no longer permitted to display non-numerical data, categorize players or dynamically display statistics specific to a certain situation.’

It’s not just the sites who are campaigning for the abolition of HUDs. Alexandre Dreyfus, head of the Global Poker Index, is on a mission to ‘sportify’ poker and believes HUDs put new players off the game. He came out in support of partypoker (‘a bold move’) and called for PokerStars to stop its pros using HUDs on Twitch streams. He also said if poker rooms don’t ban HUDs they should indicate which players are using them.

High-stakes player Patrik Antonius recently admitted to not playing NLHE or PLO online saying,

I realised I couldn’t beat the ring-games anymore and that was largely due to tracking software."

He’s switched to mixed games where HUDs don’t exist. Cynics might say he’s not the player he once was, but he’s still happy to play anyone live.

It spells bad news for Poker Tracker and Hold’em Manager – the two industry standard HUDs that merged last year. But tracking software might not be an endangered species – in fact there’s a new HUD in town. Jivaro offers its basic level HUD for free, which provides VPIP (how many hands someone plays), along with levels of pre- and postflop aggression. It also provides a pay model that adds advanced stats such as three-bet and river aggression frequency.

The Jivaro software is streamlined for ease of use and its features are more in line with PokerStars’ new rules. It’s even been speculated that PokerStars could be looking at purchasing Jivaro and incorporating it into its client. PokerStars wouldn’t comment but it’s a move that would safeguard the HUD and still provide a level playing field for everyone.

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Dave Woods is poker writer and avid player. He has played in some of the biggest poker tournaments, interviewed the most prestigious players in the world and is considered to be an expert in the field. His love and enthusiasm for the game far outweighs his raw talent, although he did place 204th out...Read more


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