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How to use tracker software to improve at poker

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Photo by Markus Spiske // CC0 1.0

Poker tracking software can be used to potentially improve your game

Online poker is a very different game to live poker – in some ways this is obvious. You can’t actually see the person through the screen, so in online poker most of your reads come from betting patterns and observing play, and definitely not through sensing body language and physical tells. Online pros could be playing 20 tables at once, while new players enjoy the same stakes casually in a single game. Many players may also be using software to get ahead.

This may strike the uninitiated as being strange, intimidating or unfair. It’s a debate that rages on in the poker community, and has done ever since the dawn of the online boom. There’s poker software available for a number of purposes, some of it legit and some of it not legit. I’m going to focus on poker tracker software.

What Is Poker Tracker Software?

Put simply, poker tracker software is your HUD for online and even mobile poker games. It displays information and statistics, in the form of numerical data, about your opponents’ plays and your own plays.

For the poker tracker to be legal, it only collects data on hands that you and your opponents play. The data would be entirely observable by you without the software, and in this way it is not new information. What the software does is remembers every action and presents it in a way that, after a while, becomes easy to read.

This means that by using poker tracker software, such as Hold ‘Em Manager or Poker Tracker 4, you can potentially make more well informed decisions during play and better analyse your gameplay afterwards to train and improve.

Although some sites may aim to attract purist players by allowing absolutely no software, most major sites have a detailed software policy that outlines the types of software that are allowed to be used. Usually, poker trackers are fine, whereas poker bots are forbidden, as are programs that give real time advice on how to play a hand.

Benefits Of Poker Tracker Software

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Photo by Pixabay // CC0 1.0

Poker tracking software can put your opponent firmly on your radar

There are several potential benefits to using poker tracker software, but only if used by a capable player who already understands the game and is experienced enough to convert the data to useful action. Poker tracking software alone cannot make you a better player. It is all about how it is used.

HUD stats can help you to make more accurate and well informed reads on players. The software can display information about how often the player enters the pot, raise pre, bet the flop and so on. The stats may point out that the player always raises the button. You can use this information to broaden your range and 3-bet the big blind light.

Poker tracking software is incredibly useful for analysing gameplay after your poker session. This can be impossible in the heat of the moment, as play will continue and time banks will force action. With the data saved, you can replay hands and see if you can make improvements. Over time, this allows you to plug your own leaks, while also learning more about your opponent’s leaks.

Having poker tracker software is especially useful for pros and serious players who multi-table. When playing one table, it is relatively easy to keep up with the action and get a feel for the individual tendencies and overall dynamics at work. When playing several tables, perhaps a dozen or more, this becomes nearly impossible. The HUD allows you to keep up with multi-table play.

Do You Need HUD Software To Become A Serious Poker Player?

Some players would consider poker tracking software as completely crucial to their game. Poker is a game of information, and the HUD stores and presents more data than your brain is likely to remember on its own, especially if you are playing multiple tables. It’s also good to be aware of your own stats, and how you will be perceived by others. With many pros already using the software, not using it could mean giving up an edge.

On the flip side of the coin, purists would say that the HUD ruins the game, and that poker, even online, is about individual situations and circumstances that need to be treated uniquely. You have to hone in on the moment, and some players prefer an intuitive approach. The HUD may even be a distraction for such players, leading them away from their feeling and towards irrelevant data. Maths is undoubtedly a big part of poker, but the game is also heuristic.

In reality, it depends on the player, their approach and style, and whether they are playing one game or ten. Poker tracker software can improve your game, but only if used wisely and only if it suits you.

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