Phil Galfond to Change the HUD Game with Run It Once

3 min read

Phil Galfond and his online poker project Run It Once will tackling the issue of player tracking with some innovative ideas.

Phil Galfond WSOP.
Phil Galfond pictured at the 2014 WSOP is hoping to change the game with his new poker site Run It Once. (Image: BluffMagVideos)

In a lengthy blog post outlining his rationale for Run It Once, Galfond wrote that tracking software such as HUDs won’t be allowed. Looking ahead to the summer 2018 launch of his online poker site, the high stakes pro explained that he and his team have come up with a unique way of stamping out the software.

Three Steps to Eliminating HUDs

Charting a different course to other poker sites, Galfond’s methods are based on three core principles: “prevention, enforcement, and disincentivization.” While he elected not to go into detail about how his software will actively block and enforce the HUD ban, he did talk about how the site will disincentivize their usage.

In the first instance, a variation on the anonymous tables feature will be used. Instead of randomizing screen names and seating positions each leaves a table, Run It Once will give players a random name when they join a new table.

This name will stick with them even if they leave the table and return later that day. Additionally, the random ID will consist of a first name and initial, which should allow players to recognize a returning player for that session.

According to Galfond, one of the main issues with anonymous seating is that it makes the games less engaging because can’t recognize who they’re facing. By keeping a certain level of familiarity, it’s hoped the game will be more interactive and, therefore, more appealing to casual players.

Stats with a Friendly Face

The other key feature discussed was dynamic avatars. Because Galfond knows the value of statistics in poker, he wanted to create a system that gave players some insight into an opponent’s playing tendencies.

“Instead of displaying stats next to your opponents, we will group them into one of eight playstyle categories and communicate that information through their avatar’s emotions,” the poker pro wrote on May 2.

In simple terms, an avatar’s emotions will change based on pre-flop stats such as how often the player is calling, raising and entering pots. By displaying information in this way, Galfond hopes it will give experienced players enough information to guide their decisions, but not give away so much that weak players are exploited.

While it’s unclear how effective this type of system will be, it is clear that Galfond is trying to redefine the notion of online poker. With many players criticizing platforms such as PokerStars for focusing too much on “gambling,” Run It Once could offer some form of happy medium.

Galfond acknowledges that casual players are the lifeblood of the industry, but he doesn’t feel their experience should come at the expense of seasoned grinders. When phase one of his project launches in the summer, he’ll have the chance to prove whether these two demographics can prosper in a single setting.

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