HUDs Banned From Phil Galfond's Run It Once Poker Room

HUDs Banned From Phil Galfond's Run It Once Poker RoomLast month, Phil Galfond announced that his Run It Once online poker room was set to launch this summer, with the US pro stating at the time that there would a number of “fun features and distinct policies” for players to enjoy.
This week, Galfond subsequently wrote a detailed blog entry revealing more details as to the policies being implemented on Run It Once Poker, with one of them sure to stir debate amongst a segment of professional players, namely the banning of Heads-Up Displays (HUDs) on the site.
The Trouble With HUDs
HUDs are software programs used by online poker players to track and analyze the hand histories of their opponents, and identify relevant information across a range of different categories, including Preflop Raise, Aggression, 3Bet, Fold to 3Bet, Continuation Bet Flop, and Attempt to Steal Blinds, to name but a few.
In the live arena, many top professionals are able to use their memories and a grasp of these concepts to exploit their opponents’ weaknesses at the table, but experienced online players are simply able to set up a HUD to provide the relevant information. This has not only placed recreational players at a severe disadvantage against their more skilled opponents, but has also left many amateur players feeling disillusioned about the game, leading a number of major sites to limit or ban their use, including Party Poker, Unibet Poker, and to a lesser extent PokerStars.
Bridging the Divide
Recreational players are seen as the life blood of the industry, as without this important group of players there will be no fresh money flowing into games. As Galfond explains in his blog post, the divide between professional players and recreational players has increased over the years, with more advanced HUDs contributing to the ever widening skill gap.
While Twitch streams and training videos have helped recreational players to develop a better grasp of poker strategy and tactics, seeing their favorite pros exploiting opponents by checking out their statistics using HUDs can also put them off playing the game at all, and as Galfond explains:
“If I’m a recreational player and I see a Twitch streamer of Run It Once training video that looks like this [a screen covered in HUD stats] I’m thinking that I have no chance. A number of people even think that this is some kind of bot (which it’s definitely not, guys!). I wonder how many people have quit online poker simply from seeing something like this.”
Reducing Unfair Advantages
In addition to preventing the use of HUDs, Galfond also detailed a number of other features designed to compliment its no-HUD policy, and vastly reduce the advantages skilled players may have over their recreational counterparts.
Like many other sites, for instance, Run It Once will feature anonymous tables, but instead of being called Player 1, Player 2, etc, players will be assigned temporary IDs based upon a first name and a last initial, such as Simon C, thus allowing players to more easily notice if a player in seat 1 leaves and is replaced by a new seat 1.
However, players will still be able to keep a general eye on their opponents using a type of built-in HUD which does not display statistics, but instead groups players into one of eight playing styles, with the information pictorially communicated via their dynamic avatars. Galfond says that dynamic avatars are designed to create a similar experience as playing at live tables, and that their expressions will vary over the course of each poker session, just as in real life.
According to the Run It Once team, should a HUD manage to avoid the site’s detection system, table aliases and dynamic avatars will help reduce their effectiveness by as much as 90%
Prevention, Detection and Punishment
Summing up his post, Galfond said that the innovations mentioned will ultimately result in the site’s games being fairer, and ultimately contribute to a more positive playing experience for its customers.
“Along with prevention, detection and punishment, we think we have an effective way to enforce our no-HUD policy, which takes us one step closer to the level playing field that we aspire to offer at Run It Once Poker.”

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