There have been many changes to online poker since its inception in 1999 or so but clearly one of the biggest changes to the industry came when PokerTracker was allowed to interact with the software of poker sites and provide poker players with downloaded real time data on all of a players opponents as well as on their own game. This amazing piece of software was launched in 2002 and is now used by many leading online poker players and serious amateurs.
Online poker has evolved dramatically and one of the biggest changes came when the sites changed their software and made it possible for players to be able to play more than one table at a time. This then increased the amount of earning potential but in order to see that potential then players had to be able to take notes on more and more players than ever before. So great demands were placed on players and taking manual notes on say 100 opponents at the same time is simply asking too much.
So the need for an “electronic helper” was obvious and along came PokerTracker. It simply downloads real time data from hand histories and then stores that onto your hard drive. The software can then sort through millions of pieces of information into an easily readable sequence of charts, graphs and other such data to allow the player to see information that would have previously been “invisible”.
PokerTracker is now into its fourth generation and each version has more features and greater use for the serious player than the previous one. The real time data can be superimposed onto a HUD (Head’s up display) for ease of use and you can see at a glance how often your opponents are seeing the flop, how often they are raising, re-raising, seeing the river, winning money at showdown, how much they are winning overall and the list goes on and on.
How To Use It
Using PokerTracker is simplicity itself, you simply go onto their website and you can even get a free 60 day trial to see for yourself how good the software is and if you are happy using it. If you have been using PokerTracker for 60 days then you will almost certainly not want to be without it after the trial period is over so certain are the owners that you will like it.
There is a short getting to know the software process that quickly wears off and once you become comfortable with the basic data and numerous different screens then that is basically all you need you know. There are forums available where you can ask questions on issues that you do not understand and the site has a great back up department that will help any player who is having problems with the software or any other issues.
It is often assumed that there are no drawbacks to using software like PokerTracker but unfortunately there are. Firstly the ethics of using such software are frequently being debated in the online poker world and on poker forums. Using PokerTracker does help good players to defeat fish far faster both in actual game play and also in locating them. The online poker environment needs a constant supply of fish and so driving fish to extinction is not in the long term interests of the game.
Also the software drags real time data and creates averages of what a player has done over their lifetime that you have been watching them. However it can be difficult to pick up subtle changes that have happened with regards to certain players over the short term. This cannot make up for a strong player using manual methods as it isn’t possible for any piece of software in my opinion to watch a small number of opponents as closely or better than a skilled human player at this time.
Knowledge as they say is power and PokerTracker in my mind is software that all online poker players need to be at least aware of even if many choose not to use it. You need to at least do a summary of what PokerTracker can do so that you are aware of just what is being lined up by your opponents and being used against you.
Ignorance in online poker is not conducive to making money and the serious players are using tracking software and so should you. While it does have its drawbacks as previously mentioned I believe that the “pros” outweigh the “cons” depending on how many tables you want to play and how high you want to play. The simple answer though is to try it for yourself with a 60 day trial and then see if it fits in with your game plan and method of operation.
Written by: Carl “The Dean” Sampson – Poker author, writer and professional online player