Poker Tracker is not only the program by which others are measured, it is also a program that other developers contribute to by way of add-on software.
There are many, many topics regarding online poker which divide opinion. However, one thing that nearly everybody agrees on is that the standard of play is higher and it has become harder to be a winning player than it was 2 years ago. It follows, therefore, that any edge you can get over the masses of players has to be worthwhile. Indeed, poker is a game of such small edges that a small improvement in decision making will result in a very meaningful increase in earn rate. One way you can get an edge is to employ good tracking and analysis software to help improve your game.
Poker Tracker is the original blueprint for in depth after play analysis and on the hoof help and statistics to lead you to make the correct decision. It is NOT something that will automate your play and make you into a poker master overnight. It will, however, present you with information on your own play and your opponents play to enable you to make the best decision in the prevailing circumstances. There are 2 main areas which Poker Tracker will address.
The First is Opponent Analysis.
How much better do you think you will play if you have a reasonable idea of your opponents hand ranges and traits. Knowing that a player will play 18% of his opening cards and will raise with 15% of these, will enable you to get an idea of the sort of pocket cards he feels are profitable for him to play.
On the other hand seeing that another guy plays 60% of hands and raises just 5% of these might well point you in the opposite direction in terms of classifying this player. As you play on your table or tables you will be gathering information hand by hand of every action your opponents make. Over the course of time you will eventually build a big database on the players who you find at your chosen limit. You can, however, greatly accelerate this process by using data mining. Poker Tracker and other similar programs have generated a network of software programmers who have developed tools to give added value. The two major programs for data mining are Idleminer and Spade Eye.
These will allow you to gather information from whichever tables you specify with a large degree of automation, allowing you to leave your PC to get on with job. Using these tools it does not take too long at all to generate a large database of players at your chosen site or sites. This gives you a big advantage when you sit down at a table where there are people you have never played against yourself, as you may well have a few hundred hands that you have data mined previously.
The majority of poker sites have no problem with this activity, though the largest one in the industry, Poker Stars does not allow this at all, and will shut down your account if you are caught. The information available to you during live play is extremely extensive. Such areas as attempts to steal blinds, c-betting frequency, reaction to your own c-betting, and cold calling raises are examples of this. This becomes available to you by using the add-on program Poker Ace Hud, which overlays statistics on the table. The actual display is completely user defined and can display as much or as little inform as the user requires.
The Second is Self Analysis
Using the power of Poker Tracker not only allows you to keep a running tally on your return from the games of poker you play, but also gives you the opportunity to go into in-depth analysis of your own play after your session. It can be very difficult to recognize mistakes made in the heat of the action, but by using the after game analysis available you can pinpoint exactly where you went wrong (or indeed you went right). By using the myriad of filters built into the software, you can evaluate play by, for example, starting hands (pairs, suited connectors, etc, etc), pre-flop action (call, raise, re-raise, etc) as well as situations generated post flop.
By intelligent use of post play analysis it is relatively easy to find where your major leaks are which allows you to take remedial action to eradicate these mistakes. Once again there is add-on software available to take this process further, one such being Poker EV which can show you how you are running compared with optimal play and allows you to see how your pot equity compares with your betting actions.
Anyone who is getting involved in poker for anything more than pure recreation will benefit from getting good tracking and analysis software like Poker Tracker. Currently the vast majority of online poker sites are covered by the software and hand importing is, in the main, done totally automatically. Players wishing to make a worthwhile return from their hours at the poker tables really are selling themselves short if they do not make what is really a small investment in this kind of software.
Having a database of players gives you a decent edge over the majority and will show in your win rate and ROI. Cash game players will particularly benefit, as the dynamics of the table remains constant throughout with blinds staying fixed. Tournament and Sit and Go players may also find the data useful, but you must bear in mind that decisions that are optimal holding 30 big blinds will not be so if you have only 5 big blinds. Using Tournament Indicator to that end is quite a bit more useful.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, the backup that the team at Poker Tracker offer is top rate.. You can have the best software ever written, but without backup it is next to useless. Poker Tracker have their own poker forum where you can discuss technical problems as well as strategy for using Poker Tracker. If you find no answer there, then just send an e-mail to Pat at the office will generally get a response in 2-3 hours. Often the users wonder how this guy ever gets time to play any poker because of the time he devotes to Poker Tracker.
The software gives you a free trial for your first 1000 hands, and I recommend you give it a try if you are looking to improve your game and earnings from it.
rom 2+2 below... My feelings exactly in regards to MTT play... but use TI to do the observation for you, esp if multi-tabling. A great case for sticking with Tournament Indicator for tournaments.
Re: How many successful MTT players use HUD's/Poker tracker in realtime I used PT/PAHUD a lot. But I don't have the feeling that it helped me that much.
Usually in those large field MTTs you are rarely running into the same players twice. Also, once you have some stats on them, the table breaks.
The other thing I dislike about PT/PAHUD in tournaments is the dynamic of the table. People play differently when they have a bigstack/smallstack. If I have a nice stack and there are no super-short stacks at my table, I raise like hell. If half the table has 10xBB or less I even tighten up with a big stack.
There is also M, Q, streak, tilt factor etc. you could be watching to make this a very usable amount of information from a poker calculator like Tournament Indicator.
What if you play the rebuy hour with a player and 2 weeks later you meet him at the final table only to label him as a maniac according to his stats?
When it comes to MTTs I've changed my opinion from PT/PAHUD to simply being observant and taking notes. I'm looking for players that call down light or can't be bluffed. I take notes about what players limp / min-raise from EP/UTG, if they are calling raises light. What kind of hands do they open shove from EP-MP for 20+ BBs or over shove the flop for 3+ times the pot.
When it comes to cash games there is nothing better than PT/PAHUD. Blinds stay the same, people play (almost always) the same, there is no bubble where people play completely different and so on...
Database Mining with Poker Tracker
Poker Sit and Go Report: Categorizing Your Opponents
ou have less than an hour during most sit and go tournaments to find out what your opponents' playing styles are. In some cases you may have to discern that information in less than a few minutes! Surprisingly, there are actually ways to do this.
You may have read about player styles and how they fit into a quadrant first devised by a Ph.D. named Alan Schoonmaker in his landmark book, The Psychology of Poker. The matrix style grid I am referring to in that book, lines up on each axis a tight-loose scale compared to a passive-aggressive scale.
For consideration, a rock solid tight player would be 1,1 on the scale as he is the tightest and most passive of all, and a maniac would be 9,9 having the highest rating for looseness and aggression. You can view the poker profiling grid at this link.
Previously I have written about categorizing your players using an adapted version of Phil Hellmuth's Creature Guide that includes Lion, Elephant, Mouse, Jackyl, and Eagle, along with my own Monkey player profiles. Seems to me a quicker way of identifying your opponents rather than having a grid number like 3,6 attached to player notes. That does not make the grid less valuable, but rather more helpful in placing your opponents more quickly on the grid while giving you somewhat of a double checking sequence.
For instance, if I have identified a mouse at my table, I can pretty much place him in the lower left quadrant as tight and passive. But if later you see him playing J9os in early position you may have to reconsider his grid position and hence his creature profile.
In sit and go tournaments you also have to keep in mind that all players will change their persona as the session progresses and players are taking more consideration of their stack, the blinds, and prize money. These factors can turn a mouse into a maniac, and a Lion into a Jackyl!Using more than one poker calculator or assist software for your game
I have always been on the side of not over doing it poker calculators to the point that it takes away from your game. Since I do play mostly tournaments though, there is a stream of thought that your cash and ring games could very well be imprived my running multiple programs. Here are some well written thoughts from our poker forum on cash game software strategies by Sun137:
DATABASE AND ANALYSIS
I originally used Poker Office 2. However the number of issues with updates, crashes etc means it is unreliable, although a great piece of kit.
I switched to Poker Tracker. Excellent product (PT3 will be out later this year to improve its customer interface/data sort options), it allows me to analyze my game - and my opponents - in detail. I found the Poker Tracker Guide, another product, an excellent buy to show how to set up an effective analysis of my game initially, although I have refined it since then.
I have also purchased Poker Prospector - by far and away a superior product with a much more flexible approach to analysis. I have a very large database in Poker Tracker, but I export selected data to Prospector on a routine basis to allow me to keep a fresh analysis of my game there without impacting on my main database in Poker Tracker.
I purchased PAHUD - which works perfectly with Poker Tracker to allow me to have opponent data on screen beside their name as well as see the showdown hole cards/board after each hand. Even though I have Prospector I still use PT/PAHUD to do this as this contains my whole database.
I recently purchased Holdem Indicator, and although there is some duplication of data (VPIP/PFR/AF/WSD) I keep HI on current and PT/PAHUD on historical so I obtain a full picture of how they are playing NOW and BEFORE. The odds/hand rankings/match cards of Holdem indicator I is also something PT/PAHUD does not have.
I run PT/PAHUD with Tournament Indicator for tournaments in a similar way, although I refer to TI as my source of information and only keep PT/PAHUD running on tournaments because the showdown display of hands/board is easier to see and therefore allows me to make notes faster. There is no doubt Tournament Indicator has made a considerable improvement to my MTT play.
PT/PAHUD and PROSPECTOR
I believe Poker Prospector is the better product. PT3 may bring PT into line and is supported by more sites, so until PT3 is out and I can judge the update I will continue using both in the way I have described.
We all need to improve - every day - by playing, reading, using forums, watching others play, training videos, 1 to 1 tuition, online training sites and finally personal training. Turbo Texas Holdem (TTH) was the benchmark to allow you to test your skills in house, but Poker Academy 2 IS now the best around in terms of ease of use and training options. If you do not have PA2 in support of your other training needs, you are missing a major piece of the skill jigsaw.
I hope this answers your initial question, but in reality it depends how serious you are. If you are only starting out, I would purchase HI/TI, watch Marty Smith's poker strategy videos and build your knowledge before worrying about analyzing your game too much with the other products. You need to do all the other parts of training I mentioned above first. Then, when you have an idea of what Poker is really all about, purchase more kit and start to analyse/improve your game. The cost of training is part of the investment in (hopefully) future poker profit.