Traditional poker rooms are catching up with the 21st century as they review the effect that third party software, including HUDs, has on the game. One, popular online poker room has already restricted the use of the technology for its online casino sites, even the Angola online casino. Additional online poker rooms are reviewing their use.
Third party apps and tools are designed to aid in the poker gameplay. The most popular of these are HUDs (head-up displays) that collect and display statistics about opponents. A HUD provides information about how each of your opponents has played in the past, with the data displayed on the poker table, next to each player, in floating panels.
There are other types of third party software programs that can be used when playing online poker. They include:
- Tools that you can use to analyze your own game
- Multi-tabling tools
- Tracking software
- Simulation tools for training purposes
- Equity calculators
- Multi-tabling tools
- Poker tracking software
This poker room was the first online poker room to issue restrictions on the use of third party software. They took the step, they said, to "level the playing field". Other online poker rooms followed suit which is shaking up the world of online poker.
Now, players must consider the implications of these new restrictions. Will the new rules enhance the gamplay or impede players who want as much information as possible before moving ahead in the game. These aren’t tools that are used for cheating or for automated play – they are aids and, as such, in a grey zone. Each poker room has its own policies about these tools.
It was decided that players who enter the poker room won’t be allowed to use tracking software or HUDs. Their goal was to decrease the edge of (semi) professional players in order to give recreational players more of a chance to win. Other poker rooms continue to allow HUDs but restricts their use during a game. And another poker room has also prohibited the use of HUDs and placed additional restrictions on the use of other online third party tools. If one of the poker rooms bans HUDs, it’s expected that the other poker rooms will have no choice but to join the move.
Leveling the Playing Field
HUDs and some other third party tools are being restricted – and in some cases, prohibited – in order to give recreational players a better chance to win. HUDs give professional players an unfair competitive edge when facing non-pros.
HUDs, however, aren’t the end-all of online poker strategy. They are useful to get insight on one’s opponents but they are only one piece of the puzzle. For a player to win in a sustained fashion, they must rely on the old-fashioned tools of observation, note-taking and specific reads.
For example, if a player knows his opponent’s raw flop check-raising percentage, that’s all well and good. But if there’s a simple written note about the opponent’s raise draws, that’s more useful. Conversely, it’s great to know about an opponent’s tight-passive stats, but when the stats don’t tell the whole story, such as how he tends to play after a big loss.
Most pros are multi-tabling so they don’t observe the action as closely as though they’re playing just on one table. Research seems to suggest that HUDs don't result in an enormous edge for multi-tablers who can't need to focus on the action at multiple tables at one time.
Some poker rooms are considering alternative solutions, such as the option to give everyone a HUD free of charge. The HUDs would be included as part of the poker room. The HUDs would contain basic opponent stats – anyone who would want additional stats could take out a paid subscription.
That would level the playing field and some poker rooms are considering going in that direction. In fact, there’s talk that one poker room giant might take over Jivaro which is the newest HUD developer on the market. Then, the poker room could integrate the Jivaro HUD with their own software.
Observers note that, in addition to leveling the playing field, such a system would also give beginning players more of opportunities to learn the game and improve their gameplay.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Poker Tools
Pros know that HUDs don't beat hand-reading, observation, note taking and intuition – elements which have been the basis poker for centuries. Banning HUDs means that players will focus more on those basic elements to get their edge. Don’t forget, plenty of poker pros have never used a HUD and still do very well.
Interestingly enough, as pros who were dependent on HUDs avoid the sites that banned the tool, opportunities open on those sites for casual players who don’t want to compete against the pros.
Many experts agree that poker tools, including HUDs, are an helpful to players to want to learn more, improve, and find an edge when playing poker. Even with the new restrictions, there are still plenty of tools that can be used and they will continue to play an important role in the world of (online) poker.
One idea involves software for post-game analysis which, the pros agree, is probably more powerful than anything that can be used during a game.