Get Tracking: Using Online Poker Tracking Software
The Tip Top Fox analyses one of the more effective tools available for online poker and explains why poker tracking software can be the key to success
At the live poker tables, a good memory for faces and excellent hand recall are two ways you can improve your game. Remembering an opponent you have battled with before and how they played specific hands can give you an advantage at the tables.
However, in the virtual arena, it is a great deal tougher to remember screen names and avatars. The sheer volume of hands played, at a faster pace and across multiple tables, can make it tricky to recall all this information when you need to.
That’s where online poker tracking software comes in. Every hand you play online is recorded by the site you are playing on and is saved as a text file on your computer. This means is a wealth of information at your fingertips, all you need to do is put it to good use.
Poker tracking software enables you to utilise this data to track your wins and losses. This enables you to keep tabs on your bankroll fluctuations and work out your most profitable game type.
In addition to that, it also allows you to analyse your game in-depth and show you which hands have won or lost you the most in every position at the tables. As well as enabling you to spot leaks in your game you might not otherwise find, this allows you to recognise spots where you could value bet more thinly, where you should be betting more, or not be betting at all.
You can also flag hands for review in-game, so you can rewatch and review them later via the hand replayer and work out whether you made the correct decision. Hands can also be exported in the form of video or formatted text so they can be shared with friends, a poker forum or coach to discuss in depth.
It’s not just your hands either, and you can build up a profile on opponents you play against regularly. This allows you to formulate a more accurate picture of their hand range in certain spots, and come up with optimal strategies to counter their play.
All of this data is displayed in-game via a Heads-Up Display (HUD), which can be set to display all relevant information on both your statistics, and those of your opponents.
Crunching the Numbers
All of these statistics can be a little overwhelming to the uninitiated, so what do they all mean?
The most important stats usually displayed are:
- VPIP/VP: Short for money voluntarily put in the pot, this number represents what percentage of hands either you or your opponents are playing.
- PFR/PR: Pre-flop raise percentage, this number represents the percentage of hands a player raises.
- AF: Aggression factor, calculated by adding the total number of times a player bet to the number of times a player raised. The lower the number, the more passive a player is, the higher the number the more aggressive they are.
- 3B: Three-bet percentage, this represents the number of times a player re-raises, giving you an idea of what range of hands they are doing this with.
- F3B: Fold to three-bet percentage, telling you how often a player folds to a re-raise.
- CB: Continuation-bet (c-bet) percentage; how often a player makes a c-bet on the flop.
- FCB: Fold to c-bet percentage; how often a player folds to continued aggression via a continuation bet on the flop.
- ATS: Attempt to steal; how often a player raises from late position to steal the blinds, this figure shows you how aggressive a player is in late position.
- FTS: Fold to steal; how often a player will fold in the blinds to a late position raise, showing how likely they are to contest pots from these two positions.
Is Tracking Software Cheating?
Any statistical hand information is available to any player that took part in that specific online poker game. Any player using information they have acquired in their own time at the virtual tables is considered acceptable by the majority of online poker rooms.
According to PokerStars terms and conditions when it comes to use of third party software: “…what is prohibited encompasses but is not limited to accessing or compiling information on other players beyond that which the User has personally observed through the User’s own gameplay or receiving advice, direction or assistance on how to play, in real time, that goes beyond a basic level.”
Tracking software is fine if all hands in a player’s database are acquired fairly in games played. However, acquiring hands via third party sites which data mine and sell hand histories is against the terms of service.
Some online poker sites such as PartyPoker and GG Poker do not allow the use of third party software, but you can use tracking software for these sites to import hands you have played into your database. You’ll then be able to analyse your gameplay data, not opponents.
Which Software to Use?
There are three main poker tracking software sites, two of which are Mac compatible, which we have reviewed and given a detailed breakdown of in our Poker Tools and Software section. They are:
- Poker Tracker – Mac compatible, free 14-day trial
- Hold’em Manager – PC only, free 14-day trial
- Poker Copilot – Mac compatible, free 30-day trial
While there are obvious cosmetic differences between the three, all offer very similar functionality. Aside from the obvious non-Mac compatibility issue for Mac users when it comes to Hold’em Manager 3, it all comes down to personal preference.
With all three products offering a free trial, there’s no reason not to read our review and then click on the link to download the software and give it a go. Then pick the product that suits you best.