If you are currently playing on partypoker and you love your screen name, I suggest taking a picture of your monitor because that screen name will disappear in a couple weeks. In a move we heard was coming about a month ago, partypoker announced late last week that with a major software update on June 17th, every customer will be forced to choose a new screen name, or what partypoker calls an “alias.”

The move will likely come as a shock to loads of poker players and will almost certainly upset many who have part of their identities – at least in terms of poker – wrapped up in the screen names. It is being done as a move by partypoker to make its poker room more friendly to recreational players and will go along with the banning of heads-up displays (HUDs). The information about HUDs was not explicitly stated by partypoker, but in a post regarding the software update on the site’s blog, partypoker managing director Tom Waters did discuss it in so many words:

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!

Ok, so maybe Waters did explicitly state it – “third-party tracking tools” clearly include HUDs.

With such tools, players – generally pros and very serious amateurs – collect data on opponents and are then able to display key information using that data with HUDs on the tables during play. Making people change their screen names will render all past data useless. This data is also used to power seating scripts, which are used by some to hunt weaker players throughout online poker lobbies and automatically sit down with them.

Third party tools are also used by players to analyze their own play and it seems like the new software update might hurt people’s ability to use them that way. In a previous report, it was said that “limited” third-party software may still be permitted, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

To go along with the forced name change, partypoker will host a $500,000 “Race to Alias” giveaway for everyone on the dot com client – except Sweden and the Czech Republic – who changes their screen name within the first 24 hours of the update.

After selecting a new name, players can win up to $10,000 in the “Login Click Cards” part of the promo. Then, for those earning at least .10 loyalty points per hour, there will be random giveaways between $10,000 and $40,000 in the “Hourly Click Cards” portion of the promotion. The final leg is a set of “$10K Freerolls” for people who earn tickets during each of the first two random giveaways.

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