Ever since poker tracking software was introduced back in the early 2000s, the use of HUDs and other tracking software was able to spread all around the poker community. Many different players started using HUDs. It did not matter if you are a casual or a poker regular. Everybody could benefit from them. But, recently some major roos, such as partypoker, have decided to implement new regulations that disallow usage of any tracking software. What’s interesting is that many players were in support of such a decision. However, why would they be in favor of prohibiting a useful tool that provides extra help and information? The answer is simple. HUDs also have quite a few drawbacks.
One of the main disadvantages of HUDs is their lack of security. That is because you are allowing third-party software to access your hand histories. It can cause real danger. For example, in August 2019, PokerTracker 4 was hacked and caused a large scandal. Therefore, when many poker rooms have made a decision to ban HUDs, the overall cash game safety increased. It is also important to mention that widespread usage of HUDs can be one of the reasons for the cash game bot problem.
There are other benefits that come with banning HUDs. Casual players would often suffer from regulars using HUDs. Many recreational players don’t even know what HUD is, therefore they have no fighting chance against an experienced player with this kind of software. Banning HUDs levels the playing field to a point where everyone has a better chance of putting up a fight to a better player.
On top of that, many players confessed that their focus during online cash games has become sharper ever since HUDs were banned from their poker rooms of choice. They added by saying that there is no need to rely on third-party software anymore in order to get information. Instead, they need to pay attention and gather reads themselves. Not only does it boost your focus, but also makes you a better poker player overall.
As a result of everything mentioned above, nowadays HUD-free poker sites are in general more popular than the ones that allow HUDs. In this article, we have decided to give you the best HUD-free poker sites. Read on for a full list.
What is a Poker HUD?
Like we said earlier, HUDs stand for heads-up displays. HUDs are addons of poker tracking software such as PokerTracker or Holdem Manager. These third-party programs allow you to view the stats of your opponents in real-time. The most important poker stats that can be viewed using HUDs are VPIP (voluntarily put money in the pot) and PFR (pre-flop raise). VPIP basically tells you what percentage of the time does the player call, raise, or make a raise pre-flop. PFR is pretty self-explanatory and gives you a percentage of the time the player raised during pre-flop. Just from these two sources of data, experience poker players can get a good understanding of the opponent’s play style. Their main goal is to understand whether a certain player is too loose, too tight, or loose but passive.
What is the Most Popular Poker Tracking Software?
PokerTracker is the most popular choice among the players and is arguably the best poker tracking software out there. Its latest version, PokerTracker 4 was released in August 2021. PokerTracker 4 has many different features and not just HUD. For example, it allows you to track your own results and gives you tips on your strategy. PokerTracker 4 can provide you with important statistics regarding your play style. Another popular poker tracking software is Holdem Manager. Its latest version, Holdem Manager 3, was released in October 2019.
The Best HUD Free Poker Sites
Now that we have discussed HUDs and poker tracking software, it is time that we show you the best HUD-free poker sites. Here is our list.
Partypoker is one of those rooms that has decided to ban HUDs after a long time of welcoming third-party software. Partypoker has made a decision to ban tracking software in June 2019. This regulation came with new rules that force its users to change their screen names. This poker room went as far as to block hand histories from being imported into the tracking software after the game is over. Later, partypoker has indicated in one of its blog posts that this decision was made to level the playing field and follow the player feedback. And that is true, as most of the players supported this change on the forums. However, after some thought, partypoker has decided to make the hand histories available for download in November 2019. To do that, you can go to the “MyGame” in the partypoker client.
Overall, partypoker is one of the most popular online poker rooms in the world right now. The field is generally soft, so if you are casual, you will feel right at home. But you can find some challenging action on higher stakes as well. Partypoker has an excellent rakeback program and is known for its MTTs.
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Unibet Poker has a reputation of being a poker room for casual and beginner players. It has always been one of the best HUD-free poker websites in the world. What’s interesting is that Unibet Poker has been prohibiting third-party software ever since its first day of launch.
This decision makes sense given that the majority of this site’s users are sports betting fans. Unibet Poker client is easily accessible from your browser. Together, all of these factors make one of the softest online poker rooms in entire Europe.
There is, however, a possibility to view your hand histories. In order to do that, you need to click the “Profile” button next to your avatar in the main lobby of the client. Then you need to press the “History” tab and there you will see your hand histories.
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Natural8 is the Asian flagship poker room of the GGPoker Network. Throughout its years of work, Natural8 was able to build a reputation as a casual-friendly website, but respecting pros as well. This poker room runs regular MTTs and promotions with great value.
Natural8 has decided to try and find a middle ground in the HUD dilemma. Natural8 is not completely HUD-free. Instead, this poker room has developed its own Smart Heads-Up Display. This HUD is completely free and comes together with the downloadable poker client, which is already a big difference from all of the other HUDs. But, Natural8’s Smart HUD only gives the most essential information to the user. For example, VPIP’s are visible at all times during the game. They are represented in a small circle in the bottom left corner of the opponent’s avatar.
Natural8’s Smart HUD also gives you an opportunity to tell from certain graphics if a player is playing well (above EV) or poorly (below EV).
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GGPoker is one of the most popular poker rooms in the world. It is constantly battling with PokerStars for first place in the PokerScout traffic rankings. GGPoker has the same Smart HUD system as Natural8. Its approach to the HUD dilemma was partially responsible for Daniel Negreanu joining GGPoker as an ambassador as he emphasized his love for the software as the main reason for joining.
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Pros of HUD-Free Poker Sites
- Poker sites that ban HUDs are generally safer, as they prohibit any third-party software. This prevents getting hand histories in real-time, thus using bots is a lot harder.
- Nobody will have a software advantage over you if you don’t want to use HUDs or can’t afford them (at the end of the day they can get pretty expensive). To put it simply, other players can’t pay in order to get extra help.
- The absence of HUDs makes the whole playing experience much more realistic and closer to live poker, where you can’t rely on some software. The absence of HUDs sharpens your focus and helps you become a better poker player.
- HUD-free poker sites improve the casual player experience considerably. Most of the casual players don’t even know about the HUDs, so if they are prohibited, then they are not at an unfair disadvantage. Therefore, losing players will usually stay in the room for longer, making the poker room happy.
Cons of HUD-Free Poker Sites
- You can’t use software that lets you know important information about your opponent’s play style.
- Multi-tabling is much harder without HUDs, as you need to pay attention to all of your opponents by yourself.
- Playing without a HUD can be a less enjoyable experience for regular and more data-oriented players.