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Software and Technology for Tracking and Analyzing Poker Sessions

Analyze and Tracking Poker Software
When it comes to playing poker in today’s technologically advanced society, there is a large group of people who use the help of technology to increase their win rate. These programs are mostly used for online poker, but there are a couple of them that can be used while playing poker in a casino as well.

Some people might feel that it is an unfair advantage to use the help of programs or computers, but the websites have specified exactly which programs break their terms of service and which do not. The programs that do not break their terms of service are completely legal for players to take advantage of. These types of programs have been around for over a decade, so it is safe to say that a ton of players are making good use of them by now.

Legal Lines

As far as what type of programs are allowed for use on online poker sites, we referred to Pokerstars’ Third Party Tools and Services FAQ to find out exactly what makes up a legal software program in their eyes. Below is a list of the characteristics of a legal software program, in the opinion of the biggest online poker site in the world:

  • 1: Programs or tools that report basic game information such as pot odds or hand strength
  • 2: Programs or tools that include basic reference material
  • 3: Programs or tools that display basic in-game statistics based off of hands you played
  • 4: Programs or tools that use macros or hotkeys to help with strategy

When it comes to types of programs that are illegal and banned from use on online poker sites, the following characteristics can be found amongst them:

  • 1: Programs or tools that facilitate the sharing of hole card data with other players
  • 2: Programs or tools that feature a central database of hands played or player rankings
  • 3: Programs or tools that play poker without the help of a human, such as a poker bot
  • 4: Programs or tools that data mine observed hands for the purpose of being used against them during a session at a later time
  • 5: Programs or tools that offer real-time situational poker advice
  • 6: Programs or tools that manipulate the opponents you are randomly pitted against in formats such as Spin and Go tournaments

Fully understanding and applying the technology that is legal is going to be a huge boost in the win rate of any player that is not already using them. The pure power of statistical analysis should never be underestimated under any circumstance. In this article, we will explore some of the most popular programs that players use while they play poker and what the specific purpose of each one is.

Tracking Software with Heads-Up Display

Tracking software, and any add-ons that come along with it, will be one of the only software items on this list that cost any money. If we could justify omitting all poker software that costs money, we would do so. However, tracking software is one of the most important programs that a poker player can possibly own, so it must be included in any list such as this.

Why is it so important? Well, there are numerous functions of this tracking software, and every single one of them is amazing. The main thing you need to be careful of is that you do not give a ton of importance to results that include small sample sizes, since they have a higher chance of being inaccurate.

Currently, the most popular brands of tracking software are called PokerTracker 4 (PT4) or Hold’em Manager 2 (HM2), and they sell for around $100 for the basic No Limit Hold’em package. There is also an Omaha package for sale, for those four-card fans out there.

There is not too much difference between the two tracking programs, except that Hold’em Manager 2 is more user-friendly, and their user interface is nicer to look at, in our opinion. They both have the same basic functions that are extremely useful when trying to optimize your poker play in order to make as much money per hour as possible.

Functions

The first function of tracking software is that it will keep a database of all of the hands that you played. Once this number of hands gets up into the neighborhood of six or seven figures, you can start doing some serious statistical analysis on what moves are working for you and what moves are losing money. This is an extremely powerful way to improve your game, as well as keep track of how many hands you have played.

The second function of tracking software is that it will allow you to figure out what your hourly rate is, either in certain situations or overall. You can filter these results using variables such as time of day, poker format, or stakes, and see exactly where you are at your best. Knowing your strengths will help you to create an optimal playing schedule that will allow you to make money the most efficiently.

Another great reason to use tracking software is that they always come with a heads-up display (HUD), which will display real-time statistics for each player at your table. Not only will this help you to learn the tendencies of the players at your table faster, but you will be able to use these numbers at future tables as well.

Knowing exactly how your opponents play is a fairly large advantage for those who know how to exploit suboptimal tendencies.

These heads-up displays will allow for any user to include as many statistics as they can fit on the screen, and many professionals are known to include up to 100 statistics on their HUD for each player.

For any statistics you feel that you need information on but cannot fit onto the HUD, there is the option for creating pop-up statistics. Pop-up statistics are true to their name, and they will pop up on screen if you hover your mouse over a player’s HUD or click on it. These pop-ups are useful for position-oriented information so that you can know what position a player is most frequently doing certain moves from.

The final function of tracking software is that they allow you to watch replays of any hands or sessions that you choose. These replays are of a very high quality and they are extremely similar to the hand replay features that you will find in most online poker rooms.

Watching replays of past tournaments, whether they were victories or not, can serve as great learning experiences. This is especially true if you have friends or professional players to watch the hand with you and comment on what they would have done in each situation. You even have the option of seeing the HUD statistics for each player, just like you would have seen them while you were playing in the hand.

Tracking Software Add-ons

After you purchase a tracking software program such as Hold’em Manager 2, you will have the option to purchase a number of add-ons programs that usually serve one specific function that the regular tracking software is not capable of. We recommend trying some of these out once you get comfortable with the plain version of the tracking software and are ready to explore further money-making opportunities.

TableNinja

TableNinja is an add-on that is aimed at pleasing those who insist on playing more tables than they can handle at any given time. TableNinja’s main purpose is to assist with the tiling of your tables so that you do not have to waste time moving a bunch of windows around your screen while trying to concentrate on playing poker.

Like most ninjas, TableNinja has more than one thing that it is good at doing. Another quality feature of this tracking software add-on is that it assigns hotkeys to each poker action.

Why on earth would a player want hotkeys? Well, the first reason is that you do not risk clicking on the wrong button with your mouse if you use hotkeys. This happens quite often when it is your turn to act on a table and it abruptly pops up to the front of your screen. You will simply need to press whatever button you designated for each action or call, fold, bet, check, or raise, and no mouse is needed.

When it comes to bet sizing, TableNinja offers hotkeys for that as well. This will allow you to bet a certain percentage of the pot according to whatever percentage amount you assigned to each hotkey. This is great for those who do not feel like doing any math to figure out exactly how many chips a certain percentage of the pot is equal to. You can also pre-set them to bet a certain number of big blinds if that’s how you like to roll.

Another useful feature that TableNinja offers to multi-table fanatics is automatic time bank management. This means that your time bank will always be activated automatically when your normal time to act expires, and you will not have to click on the time bank button.

PokerSnowie

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get a computer to scan over all of your poker hands and tell you how you could balance your ranges a little better? Well, the future is now, and this is all possible with the use of the popular PokerSnowie app.

Why is balancing ranges important? Well, in micro-stakes tournaments, it is not really all that important. However, high stakes players will find immense value in a program like PokerSnowie, because their competition is most likely using tracking software as well, and therefore they will be more likely to exploit you if your ranges are not balanced.

On top of this balancing act, PokerSnowie also gives an error summary which will help you to quickly identify what your top leaks are and how much they are costing you. There is also a “hand advice” feature which will show PokerSnowie’s hand advice on the screen before each action so that you can compare your play to how PokerSnowie would have played.

NoteCaddy

If you hate typing notes on players yourself, then NoteCaddy is going to be the add-on for you. These notes are not just going to be ordinary boring notes; they are going to have information that is unique to each player according to actual hands that happened at the table. For players who prefer to play a ton of tables at the same time, this is a very useful add-on. However, automated notes are not all that this program is capable of doing for you.

NoteCaddy also offers a hand distribution estimate of your opponent’s likely hand range in a certain situation in the form of a pie chart. This chart can be seen in-game and used as a helpful guide to what hands your opponent might have by using their history of actions as a guide.

Leak Buster

If you do not have enough money to pay a professional player to give you No Limit Hold’em poker lessons, Leak Buster is the most affordable replacement option. They even have an Omaha version of Leak Buster that will plug your Omaha leaks just as well as it plugs your No Limit Hold’em leaks.

This tracking software add-on advertises an average of between 6 to 16 leaks plugged for every player that uses their software. By using the database of hands that you have played, Leak Buster studies over 400 different aspects of your poker game and analyzes your statistics by position.

On top of this software analysis, there are also more than 30 instructional videos that were made by professional players to help you with plugging your leaks. We feel that Leak Buster is an extremely good value for an add-on program, since it will instantly yield positive results on your bottom line no matter who you are.

SitNGo Wizard 2

As the name clearly states, this tracking software add-on will be useful for anyone who plays mainly sit and go tournaments. This program specializes in analyzing nearly any pre-flop situation that can occur during one of these tournaments using strictly math and the Nash Equilibrium as its guide. The software is mainly used for strategic calculations that relate to the late stages of a sit and go tournament.

In order to make these calculations, SitNGo Wizard will import every hand you have played in a sit and go tournament. Using the built-in replayer, you can then go through each situation with the SitNGo Wizard and input whatever hand ranges you think your opponents might have so that you can calculate the correct move in each spot.

Table Scanner 2

The Table Scanner 2 program is a cash game player’s dream come true. By using this software, you can scan any poker room of your choice to find the worst players. Playing with the worst players increases your win rate in the long run, so this is quite a tempting add-on to consider acquiring.

When scanning these poker rooms, you can filter them by server or by specific poker room skin. You can also specify exactly what statistics you are looking for in a player so that it can more easily identify good tables for you to sit at.

Shove Charts

The thing that sets No Limit Hold’em apart from other less popular poker formats is the fact that you can move all-in with your chip stack at any point in time that you feel it is necessary. Most of the time, this move is done before the flop in situations where the player has a short stack that consists of 20 big blinds or less.

There is no format of poker where this short stack scenario happens more often than in a sit and go tournament. Within a few minutes, these tournaments usually turn into a big festival of all-in bets before the flop is even dealt.

The best way to know exactly when to go all-in before the flop with a short stack is to use a shove chart. There are quite a few of them available on the internet, but if you want an app for your phone, there is one called SnapShove.

The SnapShove app contains all of the shove ranges for every short stack all-in situation you can think of, and it is perfectly legal to use while you play. The only information that you will need in order to find the correct shoving range is how many chips are in the effective stack involved in the hand, and what position you are in during the hand in question.

You can rest assured that, even though you run into pocket aces or other monster hands once in a while when following shove charts, you are still doing the correct move over the long run. Doing the correct move over the long run is all that a poker player should be concerned with, since that means they will make money if they just keep playing. If you become results-oriented after a small sample size and decide to stray from the chart just because it didn’t work out the first couple of days that you tried it, you will be costing yourself a ton of money.

Results-Tracking Sites

Whether you are playing a poker tournament online or in a casino, there is always going to be a way to look up the tournament poker results for your opponent. Cash game results are not tracked by any website these days, unless the table is extremely high stakes with the blinds set at $25/$50 or above.

When you are playing on the internet, all you need to look someone up is their screen name, which is easily found on your poker table. When you are playing in a casino, it might be a little trickier to figure out who you are playing against. You might have to ask what their name is or get a glimpse at their license before you can look up their poker results.

Casino Poker Tournament Day Two

The one exception to this rule is when you make day two of a casino poker tournament and the casino posts on the internet the names of everyone on your table draw. In this case, you will have the names of every person that you will be facing right at your fingertips, and we highly recommend looking all of these people up on a casino poker results tracking site such as Hendon Mob.

Hendon Mob is a website that lists every time a player finishes in the money in a casino poker tournament. By doing your homework on this information about your opponents, you will ensure that you are well prepared for day two, which usually has a lot of money on the line.

The important thing to remember is that, just because someone has millions of dollars in tournament poker winnings, it does not necessarily mean that they are a pro.

This is especially true for players who have been playing on the poker circuit since the 1990s, since it is extremely easy to spend millions of dollars in buy-ins and travel costs over that number of years. On the flip side, any time a young player has millions of dollars in cashes, that usually means they are the real deal, since you cannot even legally play poker in a casino until you are the age of 21.

Internet Poker Tournaments

Whether you are playing sit and go tournaments, heads up tournaments, freezeout tournaments, or any other poker tournament format, your results will be recorded on the internet by results-tracking sites. A couple of the most popular internet poker results tracking sites include SharkScope, PlayerScope, or PocketFives.

Unlike the casino poker results-tracking sites, the online poker tracking sites will give you an idea of what each player’s average return on investment is. This is far more accurate of a representation of how good a player is than just looking at the total number of times they received a prize in a tournament. For example, it does not mean much if a player has cashed for 5 million dollars if they have spent 10 million dollars in entry fees throughout their poker career.

While return on investment is extremely important, it is still not something that should be taken seriously if there is a small sample size involved. Due to the high variance involved in tournament poker, it could sometimes require playing through thousands of them before a winning player actually realizes their edge and starts winning money. It does not matter if a player has a -200% return on investment or a +200% return on investment if they have only played 100 poker tournaments.

In addition to each player’s return on investment information, these tracking sites will usually provide their users with information about each player’s average buy-in amount and what their biggest score is. Some sites even offer graphical representations of each player’s tournament adventures, which is a cool visual feature that can sometimes give a better idea of what a player is like.

Poker Dream Machine

If you are tired of thinking for yourself, the poker dream machine will do it for you and tell you exactly what you should do in every situation. Just kidding! This type of program does not exist, and even if it did, it would be illegal and banned.

Most poker sites have security measures in place to detect if programs that they do not deem as being fair are running in the background on your computer. Therefore, even if you did find a poker dream machine, you would not get very far with it before you got your funds confiscated and your account banned.

Hand Replayer

One of the most basic types of poker technology that you can find on the internet is known as a hand replayer. These types of programs allow a player to upload a hand history file that contains a certain number of poker hands and then watch those hands play out on a table.

While watching these poker hands, you will normally be able to pause, slow down, or speed up the action on the table. This can come in handy when you are studying, which is one of the main functions of a hand replayer. Reviewing your own play, especially with someone else who is a good player, is one of the best ways to improve your poker game.

For those who already own a results-tracking program such as Hold’em Manager 2 or PokerTracker 4, you will be pleased to know that these programs already have a hand replayer built into them. All you need to do is find the hand in the programs hand database and double-click on it, and the replay window will pop up.

If you are not fortunate enough to own a results-tracking program, which we recommend to be the first poker program you acquire, then you will need to rely on the internet to watch a replay of your hands. Some of the most popular internet hand replay sites are the BOOM! Hand Replayer, the Universal Replayer, and the CardRunners hand replayer.

The cool thing about a hand replayer like the BOOM! Hand Replayer is that it allows you to send a link to friends, which will bring them directly to the replay of a specific hand of your choice. Now you don’t have to tell people about your bad beats; you can simply show them and get the same awkward pity party without spending all the energy that it takes to tell a bad beat story.

Poker Calculator

Speaking of programs that you cannot use while you play, let’s move on to talking about the poker calculator. An example of a poker calculator that is free to download is the PokerStrategy.com Equilab.

These types of programs are extremely powerful because they allow you to do crazy things such as calculate equities that involve ranges of poker hands. This sounds like scientific jargon, so let’s look at an example to see what in the Sam Hill we are talking about.

Preflop Range Calculation Example

Let’s say you hold pocket jacks in your hand and you are facing an all-in from a guy who you are sure has a range of ONLY pocket tens or better and ace-king. Off of the top of your head, it would be tough for a beginner or even a veteran to guess if they are ahead in this situation if they have never looked it up in a poker calculator before. Some hands in their range beat you and some of them do not.

However, plugging these hands into a poker calculator yields the results that you have exactly 43.2% equity against their range of hands. You can then use this number to conclude that you need to call this all-in if you are getting pot odds of somewhere around 1.5 to 1 or better.

You can see from the example above that these range calculations can be quite powerful when figuring out what the correct move is. This is why they are not allowed to be used while you are playing. However, it is not illegal to do your homework beforehand and figure out what is correct in common situations that you remember coming across in the past.

Predetermined Ranges

Not only do these poker calculators help you calculate range equities, but they also give you a ton of predetermined ranges that you should be using to decide when to raise before the flop comes. These ranges are usually organized in the form of three poker styles: tight, regular, and loose. You should feel free to explore these ranges and familiarize yourself with how aggressive you should be in certain situations.

Postflop Calculations

This is the part where things get really fancy. These poker calculators are capable of taking a range of hands that someone has preflop and instantly telling how hard their range hit a specific flop that came out. This sort of range sorting is tough for a human brain to do on its own, which is yet another reason why this program is not legal to use while playing poker.

Simple Hand vs. Hand Calculations

Even if you are not dealing with ranges of hands, a poker odds calculator can be extremely useful in figuring out how one hand does against another hand. For example, a poker calculator can be used to confirm that pocket aces has about an 82.64% chance of beating pocket kings of the same two suits.

This information can come in useful when trying to figure out what type of hands perform the best in specific situations. Lots of people incorrectly use this tool to try to prove to themselves, and anyone who will listen, how unlucky they are. However, we do not recommend doing this, since one hand does not mean much in the grand scheme of things and you should not be so concerned with the results of one specific hand.

Tournament Variance Calculator

A tournament variance calculator can be found on the internet for free. These calculators are a great way to familiarize yourself with the high level of variance that comes along with playing tournament poker.

Even though poker tournaments are a game of skill, you will routinely come across long cold stretches that seem impossible. You may also experience weeks or even months where you are dominating your competition no matter what you do. These two examples represent two polar opposite ends of the variance spectrum.

We recommend that every player take a minute to explore a tournament variance calculator before they begin playing poker tournaments. Pokerdope.com has a great tournament variance calculator that allows you to tinker with different variables such as the number of tournaments played and the return on investment that is expected from them.

By playing with a tournament variance calculator for some length of time, you will soon realize that the outcome over a few hundred or even a few thousand poker tournaments is actually irrelevant. The long run is extremely long and requires that hundreds of thousands of poker hands be played before you can conclude if your win rate is accurate. This is the main reason why it is important to have good bankroll management and make sure that you have at least 100 buy-ins in your bankroll before you attempt to grind poker tournaments on a regular basis.

TeamViewer

Even though brick-and-mortar casinos enforce a self-explanatory rule known as “one player per hand,” online poker rooms are well aware that this rule is unenforceable in the virtual world. It would be far too tough to detect every time there is more than one person making decisions, so they just let it slide.

This is where TeamViewer comes in handy, especially when you are giving or receiving poker lessons. TeamViewer is a free VPN service which allows you to connect to another person’s computer as long as you have their partner ID number and the numerical password associated with it. You will not be able to connect to anyone’s computer that does not already have TeamViewer up and running on their machine.

There are two different ways that you can use TeamViewer to connect to another person’s computer. The first option is to start a “meeting,” which is simply a screen-sharing feature that allows you to see each other’s screens or even make a video call with each other. The second option is to connect using the Remote Control feature, which gives you permission to click around and move stuff yourself. You will be able to type and use your mouse while using this Remote Control feature, and it will make things happen on the computer that you are connected to.

The Wrap-Up

You’re not in Kansas anymore; you’re on the internet. Poker on the internet is a lot different from poker in the casino. The main reason for this difference is the fact that there are so many programs and technologies available to assist internet poker players with their journey to becoming a winning player or even a professional player.

The primary goal of poker is to make as much money as possible using the edge that you have over your opponents. If you are using technology such as tracking software, hand replayers, poker calculators, and shove chart apps, you will quickly find your edge over your opponents increasing. There is no logical reason to ignore these technological advances in poker strategy, so get started on learning how to use some of them today!