The use of a poker HUDs (heads up displays) has proliferated among serious, winning poker players. Roughly 50% of winning online poker players used a poker HUD in 2010, which is probably around 10% of online players overall.
Essentially the benefits of using a poker HUD, which have been discussed in specific articles on this site, have almost become requirements to become a winning poker player, at least above $1/$2 anyway.
So back to the question – Are poker HUDs legal? Yes they are! On almost all poker sites the legality of poker HUDs have been a hot topic for years and each site decides individually if they will allow the use of HUDs or not. As of right now – most poker room, including PokerStars, 888Poker, iPoker, Winamax and many others DO ALLOW the use of HUDs.
Sure, if you’re only playing two or four games of $3/$6 than your mind can absorb enough information and reads on the various players at your table to not need one. However anyone multi-tabling (which most pro players making more than $50,000/yr are) will NEED to use a poker HUD.
Debates about whether using a poker HUD is fair in online poker have been going on for many years. In fact, you can read a massive 20+ page 2+2 forum thread on poker HUDs here (it even includes references to our own site).
One of the funny things about the debate however if that 90% of the new poker players who are being disadvantaged by regulars who do use a poker HUD don’t know about it. Thus, the ball is very much in the winning players’ court since they’ve got a big advantage against new players who don’t actually know it.
An interesting turning point about Poker HUDs and live tracking technology came about at the beginning of 2011 when Bodog Poker released a statement that they would no longer allow players to use live tracking software at their poker site.
Unlike most other online poker sites world wide, Bodog Poker are one of the only sites to actually prohibit live tracking software which draws statistics from how other poker players play. Sharkscope for example will no longer be able to collect SNG and MTT data from Bodog’s poker players.
The news is great for new players in general because it means that they can play at Bodog’s low stakes games without being “tracked” or disadvantages by better players who pay for such software. However it will also piss off many regulars who have become practically dependent on such software to maintain their high win rates and exploit fish at the tables.
In many ways, if Poker HUDs were suddenly prohibited at all major poker sites (which would never happen) than many of these high stakes multi-tablers would be forced to cut down on how many games they can play simultaneously with the same win-rate. Thus, their income levels would be severely effected, possibly by 50% or more.
Personally, I think that using a Poker HUD is fair within reason since it only gives multi-tablers information that they would have been able to obtain naturally anyway by playing lots of games against the same opponents. To put it bluntly, using a poker HUD isn’t “cheating” since it doesn’t let you know what cards your opponent has. All it does is allow you to play more tables without having to concentrate as much at each table. The advantage from using a Poker HUD comes mainly from knowing how to use it and apply it to your game, not just relying on it to tell you what to do at different streets.