Don’t expect tracking software to play poker for you

Ever since I first started playing online poker in 2002, the game has lent itself to data collection, storage and analysis. So it was with little surprise that tracking software arrived nearly ten years ago. I was very anti-software back then but many of the big sites like Full Tilt Poker allowed them to interact with their API. In fact you can read more in my poker blog on this topic but it is a very interesting one for sure.

So what is the main problem with using tracking software? That’s just it because there isnt one but it doesn’t alter the fact that many players simply view them as the Holy Grail. I think as online poker games have become tougher then there is a need for many players to reduce their buy in levels and play more tables at a lower stake level.

These days I play at levels no higher than NL100 and even NL50 but I have learned to simplify my style and play lower but increase volume. This means that tracker data is less effective and certainly within my locale which is NLHE ring where the average opponent falls into a pretty tight range. So their VPIP/PFR/AF stats tend to be much alike and that suits me fine because this lack of disparity in statistics means that I can play more tables because I know what my mean average opponent is doing.

The main reasons to use tracking software for me and many other professionals are to analyse your own game and to keep a track on your results. For me the feature that measures went to showdown earnings and non-showdown earnings are worth their weight in gold and are worth far more than a players’ 3/bet stats for example.

You need to remember that tracking software will not make you a great poker player in the same way that a SATNAV will not make you a great driver. They are simply tools that assist you in your job and your job as a poker player is to fix your leaks and pick and choose the best games possible. If you are playing a large number of tables at the same time then it becomes more difficult to see what your opponents are doing. This is why for me the best way to make money in 2013 and beyond is to focus on volume at lower stake levels. Many people will say “yes but Carl, this will stunt your growth as an online poker player”.

That may be true and you may never reach your full potential as a player on a technical level. However I am talking about reaching your full potential as a player on an earnings level and they are not the same thing. Busting a gut to improve your game beyond certain levels isn’t needed if you play under certain stakes. If you plan on moving up into the middle limits in online poker then I wish you all the very best of luck because you are going to need it.

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