Global Poker Index CEO Alexandre Dreyfus has made it his crusade to “sportify” poker, seeking to make the game be treated more like a professional sport in terms of how it is played, organized, viewed and covered.
Part of the reasoning behind that idea is to make the game more appealing to mass audiences that might find it hard to get into poker as it is currently presented.
There are plenty of things that Dreyfus has pointed to that could be fixed in this regard.
But in just the last few days, he has focused on one in particular: the heads-up displays (or HUDs) often used by online poker players.
HUDs Provide Advantages for Players, But Aren’t Beautiful on Screen
A heads-up display, typically used by players in conjunction with software such as PokerTracker, providing useful information about each opponent at the table.
It can obviously be helpful to players: knowing at a glance whether an opponent opens too widely or likes to frequently check/raise can give a player a big advantage.
But the overlays aren’t necessarily attractive when viewed by others, as they place a lot of numbers on the screen. Not only can this ruin the aesthetics of watching poker, but it can also be intimidating: a viewer who might be thinking about getting into poker could find themselves wondering if knowing all of these stats is necessary to playing at all, keeping them from ever trying the game.
It’s that concern that drove Dreyfus to talk about HUD usage on his Twitter account over the past week.
“PokerStars should ban its pros to play with tracker while streaming,” Dreyfus wrote last Monday. “Poker is complicated enough, no need to add more numbers on the screen.”
Dreyfus Praises Somerville for Lack of HUD
On Sunday, Dreyfus praised one popular poker pro on Twitch, largely because they do not use a HUD when they stream.
“[Jason Somerville] is by far the best poker caster,” Dreyfus tweeted. “Professional. Entertaining. Good player (I suppose). His screen is clean and easy to use.”
Somerville has frequently fielded questions in his streams about why he does not use a HUD.
His comments have largely echoed the reasoning offered by Dreyfus: it seems likely that someone who only casually plays poker or who has never seen online poker before would be confused on intimidated by all the numbers presented in a HUD, and since he only plays one table on stream, he isn’t giving up much by not using such a tool.
Speaking to Lee Davy of CalvinAyre.com, Dreyfus expanded on his views.
“I don’t believe that it’s a good thing to highlight the use of HUDs for a number of reasons,” Dreyfus said. “The image of a grinder using data analysis to make his decisions is not the experience we want to sell. We want to sell entertainment, and a recreational experience.”
Dreyfus also made comments on Twitter suggesting that he expected HUDs to someday be banned by online poker rooms, a stance he reiterated in his talk with Davy.
“I’m convinced that HUDs will eventually be banned from PokerStars in order to create a better balance,” Dreyfus said. If it’s not the case, I believe PokerStars, and others, should actually show on the table that the player uses a HUD. It’s technically possible to do this, and it should be done to broaden the awareness of the other players at the table.”