I was having a conversation with a colleague the other day about the subject of the use of trackers and HUD’s in online poker. My own views on their usage have changed over the years from one of them being absolutely necessary to one where I think they can be a hindrance. For example in higher stakes games trackers are of less use simply because your opponents are constantly changing their game. Also even in lower stakes games then using a HUD can be more of a hindrance than many people think.
There is definitely a case of diminishing returns with trackers because very strong players can maximize their return by playing more tables. At the end of the day tracking data is valuable in helping you to analyze leaks in your own game. For example your total earnings are a culmination of your showdown and your non-showdown earnings. So let us say that you have made a profit of $5,000 over the space of a six month period. You may think that with you making this sort of money then all is well with the world.
However this could mask some very important flaws within your game. Tracker software could detect and break down how you made this $5,000. For example let us say that your total showdown winnings were $45,000 but your lost $40,000 before the showdown. This is indicative of a player that is being very tight post flop. While it is dangerous to change a winning strategy, you cannot argue with the fact that this player has lost $40,000 in total pots that haven’t gone to a showdown. This is an amount of money that has been placed into the pot and then folded.
The key fact here is that if a player lacks skill to play more aggressively post flop, then they may be better off continuing in the same vein. So you definitely need to be careful in this situation and over pressing when things are going well (in the pursuit of making more money) can often be a very dangerous thing to do. The main thing when you play poker is to focus on being able to read situations well. This is often difficult to do when you are trying to use your HUD data and you are trying to play a lot of tables at the same time. In fact, there is an argument that data collected is more valuable to analyse after the game and not during it, depending on how easily distracted you are.
Let us look at a typical grinder that plays eight tables and uses a HUD to analyse their opponents. It can often be the case that in the pursuit of chasing a greater “edge” by increasing the level of data that you receive that you then begin to miss key hand data that all good solid players thrive on. For example if you miss a value bet on the river in a $40 pot then you could have just lost out on anything from $20-$30 in extra value. These are the sorts of situations that you miss when you play many tables at the same time and your attention is focused on your HUD.
Another example can be seen from the following situation. You raise from the cut-off with the Ad-Jd and the big blind calls you. The flop comes down Ah-10s-9s and you bet for value and are called. The turn card is the 2c and your opponent checks and you bet again for value and are once again called. The river card is the 9c and your opponent checks again and you check. You should be value betting this because smaller aces and even two pair tens and nines may call here. These are the sorts of bets that you often miss when you are using a HUD and playing many tables at the same time.
Ok, so when it comes to looking into an HUD, there are quite a few names that come to the forefront. Big names include Poker Edge, Poker Tracker, Poker Sharpener AND Hold'em Manager - all of these are good solid products. The top 2 players choice products seem to be Poker Tracker and Hold'em Manager. Our recommendation goes to Poker Tracker following the upgrade to version 4 of their software. This release includes interactive reports and graphs, a drag and drop profile editor, money flow charts note tracker auto notes (designed by poker pro Shaun Deeb), as well as an equity and ICM calculator. All in all, a pretty solid piece of kit. Also worth noting that the software is now available for both MAC and Windows users.
Once you have downloaded Poker Tracker V4 - here is a list of the compatible rooms with the software (in the event you aren't already registered with them:) Please check out our reviews for full details of the offers that we have in place on each site.
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It's a good question, and one that is asked regularly. Most pros have openly said that they don't use HUD's to assist their play. In truth this doesn't diminish the value add that a player might get from software. Most big name players usually play between 10 and 30 tables at once so you would think that using a HUD would add value, right? Well actually, for these guys, they just don't feel they need it. Many of them are playing the same core players day in and day out so know their opponents games pretty well.
Using software can be useful when multi-tabling though. If you are playing just a few tables at a time, one could argue that a solid player wouldn't need any software. When playing a larger number of tables, a players concentration will be divided across their tables and so will likely miss key information that is on offer. Using software can plug that gap and certainly arm a player with information in terms of weaknesses, at least for future meetings.
All this being said, it isn't going to be for everyone. After all, you don't need software to tell you that a player that folds 60 hands in a row is tight, or that a player playing 10-3 off suit UTG and making it to showdown is a fish. It might however offer some more subtle statistics which can be used to boost your earn rate.