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Poker HUD Explained

Millions of people play poker every day. Some of them use it a as relaxation technique, others make a living out of it. Highly gifted and skilled players are splashed all over the news for winning the latest tournament and collecting the million dollars award money. Others prefer to play the game online and stay out of the limelight.

When playing against opponents that you don’t have a real life connection with (you can’t observe their facial expressions, gestures and mannerism in the way they bet, fold, call and so on as you would have if you are playing a live game) it is advised that you have a way of finding what their tendencies are. For online players one of the most valuable tools is a piece of software called a poker HUD.

What is a poker HUD?

A "poker HUD" is software that tracks various key stats and its purpose is to help you make better decisions when playing online poker. The acronym HUD stands for Head-Up Display and this is exactly what it is - a helpful, easy to use and read display.

A good HUD tracks and analyzes hundreds of stats in real time. The data collected is shown via an overlay right on top of the poker table.

Simply put - a HUD is a software program that tracks and displays information about the way your opponents are playing. Based on this information you should be able to notice patterns, exploit your opponents’ weaknesses, make better decisions and win more.

Why do I need a HUD?

Let's cut to the chase - playing without a HUD will place you at a great disadvantage! A huge number of online players use them to keep track on number of things and make decisions accordingly. If you do not use one - well, you can make the conclusion.

Basically, if you like winning and if you want to be competitive you need to have a good poker HUD, its' that simple. There's no way around it and no way to "sugarcoated" - poker is a war, there will be winners and there will be losers. If you want to be the former - get a HUD!

Benefits of using a poker HUD

The single best thing a HUD can do for you is keep track of all the statistics that you deem important, for each of your opponents at the table. By showing you the tendencies of your opponents it is easier to exploit their weaknesses for your gain. HUDs also help players to simultaneously play on more tables and thus help them raise their profit.

One of the most underrated benefits of all poker software is the ability to learn more about you and your style of play. A good HUD can help you immensely improve your game, win more money and more tournaments! The stored information about each hand can be visualized in a number of ways (graphs, charts, percentages and so on) and is a valuable treasure chest for the student of the game.

Replaying hands after the fact allows you to see the game without the pressure of the live play and also to put yourself in the shoes of your opponents. Getting to know your own tendencies and using them to your advantage is one of the best kept secrets in online poker.

Poker HUD shown at a PokerStars poker table. Poker HUD is shown at a PokerStars poker table.

Are poker HUDs legal / allowed / considered cheating?

This is the first question every novice online poker player asks when he learns about them. There is nothing illegal about HUDs. If the site you play on allows them, then everyone is free to use them.

Since there are many types of HUDs it is quite possible that every player at the table uses a different one or even if they use the same software it can be setup in a different way.

Every player chooses if he wants to use a HUD or not. It is not considered a way of cheating simply because the online poker sites freely give the information about each played hand. If the site wants to stop players using a HUD it can simply hide that data and then everyone will have to play without the HUD.

    The poker rooms online can be added to one of these 3 categories when it comes to poker tracking software:
  • 1. Allow HUDs without limitations
  • 2. Allowed in general but with certain limitations and restrictions - Examples - PokerStars, IPoker, 888Poker and others
  • 3. Not allowed at all - Ignition, SkyPoker

These are just examples and the list of which websites allows HUDs or other trackers and on what types of game changes all the time. You need to check with each of them individually in their F.A.Q. section about their most current position on this subject.

How is the data collected?

Each poker site keeps information about the hands you have played. It is freely available to anyone at the table.

The HUD software stores and processes this information and then shows the tendencies of your opponents in small boxes next to their avatars in the form of percentages or numbers.

How is the data processed?

Every HUD-software has a basic set of stats that are calculated.

The most common and helpful stats are VPIP (Voluntarily Put In Pot), PFR (Pre Flop Raise), AF (Aggression Factor) and ATS (Attempt To Steal).

After a hand is complete the information is automatically added to a database and the current stats for every player are updated. This is one of the major differences between the poker HUDs available and here at Hand2Note we are proud to provide you with over 500 (yes, you read it right - over five hundred!) different stats.

How is the data visualized?

Some programs only allow a certain number of stats to be shown and added to the database. Others (the paid ones, like you, guessed it - Hand2Note) give the user the freedom to keep track of pretty much as many stats as they wish.

The good HUDs also offer other helpful information in the form of graphs or allow a player to add certain notes on the specific opponents. The best HUDs use highly advanced mathematics to come up with all sorts of data that in the right hands can substantially increase the profits of professional or recreational poker players.

Sessions stats in poker HUD.
Poker sessions results are shown in poker HUD.

Choosing a HUD

If you are serious about your poker play then it is highly advisable that you use a HUD. The general rule is that the better the HUD the more data and information it can process and visualize for you. The best ones are highly customizable and can be setup in any way that a player wants without sacrificing usability and convince.

Searching online will give you a basic idea of what is available on the market and it can be generally sorted as free HUD software and paid HUD software.

At the moment there are about a handful of HUD programs which are what can be considered "professional" and they are all naturally paid. Yes, the number is not high and this is because creating, maintaining and constantly updating the HUD software with the latest features is not easy or cheap. You need a good team of developers and software engineers to achieve that. The technology and the rules at each poker site change all the time. Updates are necessary on weekly and even daily bases.

However, Hand2Note provides a free poker HUD for those who play up to NL25 stakes. It contains almost all features of the paid version. You don't need to install anything additionally to Hand2Note itself. When the trial expires you will just continue to use the HUD for free.

You can see here in our update section how many updates we've made since 2014. We strive to push one as fast as possible, sometimes a few times a week! Of course we are a little bit biased on this subject but we believe we have one of the best teams in the business and our poker software is the best::)

With plans starting at under $10 a month, full 30days no questions-asked money back guarantee, knowledgeable support team and almost instant updates you can see why thousands of poker players have been using our HUD for years.

Drawbacks of HUDs

To put it in brief - there aren't many! Yes, there is a fee involved but even the most updated and trusted HUDs are now extremely affordable. A regular player can get the money they paid for that small monthly fee back in a very short time of use (days or even hours).

The biggest mistake most novice players make after purchasing a HUD is that they stop paying attention to the table. The stats are there, no need to stay vigilant.

Well the problem with that approach is that the numbers don’t lie but they are only there to augment your perception and feel for the game. Keep in mind that the data for each player is collected only when both of you are at the table. You don’t get the data from their previous 10 or 1000 hands. Hence they could be changing their style of betting when they s ee a new face at the table or they could be tired or drunk or distracted and so on.

The software doesn’t know any of that. It just collects the data and shows it to you. Some expert HUD users say they don’t trust the data shown until at least a certain amount of hands have been played and even then they keep their own notes on how certain players approach the game.

Another mistake often made by novice players is simply playing the numbers. They see that their opponent has such and such tendency and just go with it without assessing the overall position at the table. After all the numbers are there, time is limited and if you play on too many table at the same time it is easy to think that the HUD can make the decisions for you.

Every good poker player knows that the programs can only help and guide you to the right decision. Even if it is the one that the stats say it’s the wrong one!

Remember - a poker HUD is a tool, how to use it and take advantage of it is up to you.

In conclusion

If you are serious about your online poker play a Head-on Display is one of the best investments you will ever make.

HUDs are now cheap, fast and user friendly. The days when a HUD would slow down your computer or even crash it are long over. The technology have improved vastly in recent years and using a HUD is a breeze.

If on the other hand you decide to save a few dollars and don't use one, well you will be most likely ending paying in different ways. Don't want to be harsh, don't want to be mean - that's just the reality!

    So let’s summarize what a poker HUD can do for you:
  • - Show you the tendencies of your opponents by tracking the played hands at the table.
  • - Allows you to make better decisions in-game.
  • - HUDs are not illegal (thou they must be allowed by your chosen poker site and might have some restrictions) and you should be using one if that is an option
  • - HUDs give you an extra advantage over regular players
  • - HUDs give you an extra advantage over regular players
  • - Let you play more tables and thus increase your profit
  • - Poker HUDs have drawbacks but savvy users can avoid them easily