Software Update

Partypoker to Force Screenname Changes in Pending Software Update

In perhaps the most impressive response yet to the problems caused throughout online poker by HUDs (heads-up displays) and other environment-imbalancing forms of third-party software, partypoker has announced that a mid-June software client upgrade will force all users on the global partypoker.com platform to choose a new alias (screenname).

Partypoker is incentivizing its global players to change their screennames as soon as possible after the upgrade goes into effect on the morning of June 17 by offering a “time-limited $500K ‘Race to Alias’ giveaway for all dotcom players (excluding those in Czech Republic and Sweden)” that runs for 24 hours beginning at 09:00 BST (10:00 CET).

The $500,000 giveaway will be done in three parts. According to party:

‘Login Click Cards’ will award random prizes worth up to $10,000 in cash to players after choosing their new alias, while the site will also give away between $10,000 and $40,000 in ‘Hourly Click Cards’ for earning at least 0.10 in loyalty points per hour. In addition, ‘$10K Freerolls’ are scheduled to run exclusively for players who earn qualifying tickets via either the ‘Login’ or ‘Hourly’ Click Card offers.

Partypoker Diamond LogoAll players who log on during the 24-hour promotion will receive a Login Click Card, as they will be prompted to change their screenname before being allowed to continue. The alias change is mandatory. Players won’t be allowed to “change” screennames to what they already are, and all old/disused screennames will be unavailable to any players for six months.

According to party, player names are also subject to the site’s usual rules about appropriate language, with certain words and phrases blocked, and they will be available on a first come, first served basis.

The move is sure to bring a heavy outcry from the third-party software segment, including both the developers of and the players who use such products. Nonetheless, the damage and imbalances caused to the general online-poker playing environment by many forms of such software have been known for years, with numerous sites and networks taking steps to counteract such software.

Party’s forced name change attacks the scourge of HUDs directly, not by outlawing them, but by severely limiting their effectiveness. The solution is arguably and significantly better than opting for an “anonymous” player approach, which may destroy HUDs’ purpose but in the process throws the virtual barndoors wide open to various forms of collusion.

The changes will also go into effect for party’s sister site, bwin, which is available in some jurisdictions. The new upgrade may not be available immediately for some platforms, such as Mac, but it will be introduced in the near future. The six-month dead time for previously-used screennames suggests that party may force mandatory alias changes on a recurring basis, which is necessary to keep HUDs from regaining too much effectiveness.

That the changes are a direct response to HUD’s predatory power was made clear by quotes from party execs.

partypoker Player Panel member Patrick Leonard said: “I am excited at all the changes partypoker has scheduled as part of the company’s next software update, and I encourage everyone to log in and update their player name on June 17 to take advantage of the huge $500,000 giveaway!”

partypoker managing director, Tom Waters said: “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.

“With this release, we will be 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 screenname!”

This is great news for most online players, especially the newer and more casual types that all sites seek to land as customers. Congrats to party on taking this long-needed step.

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