On Monday, June 17, partypoker forced all users to change their screenname after logging into the poker client as part of a new software update.

The forced screenname change is just one of many big changes that partypoker shared on its blog. They’re “designed to level the playing field at partypoker following player feedback, allowing players of all levels to start afresh with a ‘clean slate’ in an effort to make the site a safer, fairer place to play.”

“With this release, we are making changes to our software that will prevent third-party tracking tools from working.”

The updated poker client does not allow downloadable hand histories. This means that players previously using HUDs (Head Up Displays) and poker tracking databases will no longer be able to track themselves and their opponents with their third-party software.

This doesn’t mean that players won’t be able to review any of their play. Recent hands can be replayed via a mini-dashboard, dubbed the Hand History Office, which includes information related to hole cards, community cards, and the pot size on current cash game tables, tournament tables, and Fast Forward pooled tables.

The Hand History Office will also allow the review of cash game and tournament hands from the past three months with extensive data points provided. Filters for the date range, pot size, and hole cards will facilitate players finding a hand to review, although all opponents’ names will be anonymous.

Earlier saved player notes have been removed. Besides these changes, partypoker has introduced a four-color deck.

partypoker managing director Tom Waters comments on the changes while also mentioning the half a million dollars the online poker room is giving away in its $500,000 Alias Race.

“This client update is one of a number of initiatives that we are working on in order to provide players with a safe environment where they can play online poker,” said Waters. “With this release, we are making changes to our software that will prevent third-party tracking tools from working. We want our players to have a fresh start and therefore we are asking all players to select a new alias so that all third-party tool tracking is lost for all our players. At the same time, we have some great promotions running and I’m sure there will be a mad rush by players eager to secure their preferred screen name!”

The only third-party software permitted at partypoker after the new software rollout is partycaption and StackAndTile. Players caught using any other program will not only have their accounts closed but also forfeit funds in their accounts which will be redistributed.

“We want our players to have a fresh start and therefore we are asking all players to select a new alias so that all third-party tool tracking is lost for all our players.”

This rollout didn’t come as a surprise as partypoker announced it weeks ago. Many applauded the change, while some objected. The scarce critique was mostly focused on the lack of oversight by players in terms of detecting bots and other abnormal activity, while some of that has been rebuffed by the inception of the Hand History Office.

partypoker Ambassador and Player Panel member Patrik Leonard shared with players that he is on board with the changes at partypoker despite initially being against them.

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MPN Reacts

The hand history, HUD, and poker tracking software debate not only caught the attention of online poker players but also online poker operators.

The Microgaming Poker Network (MPN) not only took notice but announced changes at their network as well.

MPN currently operates two different clients on the same network. It’s Classic version, which will be soon phased out, has always allowed downloadable hand histories and permitted the use of third-party HUDs and poker tracking software. The new Prima client did not allow for downloadable hand histories. This is a decision that MPN Managing Director Alex Scott has said was wrong after further review.

“After reviewing all of the feedback we have received since the launch of our new software, and considering the ongoing debate, we have come to the conclusion that our current policy on hand histories is not right,” said Scott in a MPN blog post. “With the best of intentions, we made a mistake, and so now we’re going to make changes.”

HUD’s will be allowed at the Prima client but won’t have the same impact as they would on other sites for a few reasons. Since players can change their screennames every 30 days or 1,000 hands, stats displayed in a HUD are less relevant. Scott mentioned that MPN plans to make these changes easier and more transparent. Also, downloadable hand histories won’t be available until 24 hours after play is completed. Scott shared this was to strike a balance between players tracking their own results and the impact of HUDs.

MPN plans to rollout this change during Q4 of 2019.

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