From the Cheap Seats

Wednesday, September 1

Poker Tracker, Play Money, and the RNC

It's been a very slow few days for me on the poker front. I haven't been able to play all week. Hopefully, I will be able to get some time in tonight.

In the meantime, I have been fooling around with Poker Tracker to see what it offers out of the box and what I can build around it to enhance its statistics. I built a couple of reports and charts off of it using Access/Excel. This is pretty useful and helps summarize a lot of the data in there. While doing this, I started discussing the stats with a fellow player and actuary. The data in PT seems to be somewhat skewed in that you get information on very specific types of hands. Let's take two examples that we discussed. The first is a player who always raises AA and 27o. (yeah, yeah, just go with it for now) In this case, he is not very likely to make it to the showdown with 27o since he will either fold his bluff in light of callers/raisers or the bluff works and everyone folds to him. On the other hand, AA would make it to a showdown much more. In PT we would see that he always raises AA but that he rarely, if ever, raises with 27o even though he routinely does. Thus, you are really only seeing a distorted set of hands. This becomes even more evident when you think about why you would see someone's cards at the showdown. Basically, you are seeing the cards of those people who think they won and those who called because the pot was big enough. Ignoring the second case, as that can be screened based on the size of the pot, you are essentially seeing the cards of bad players since they are more likely to be in the showdown, not knowing that they are beat.

Another area where this skew tends to play a role is around raises in multiway vs shorthanded pots. Let's take a player who raises a good draw in a multiway pot preflop but chooses to fold in a shorthanded pot. In this case, PT will show that this player always raises a given hand. In reality though, he only raises the pot if he is going to get a big enough pot by the end.

Ultimately that leaves PT to be effective only in looking at starting hands in isolation and tracking one's own play against various attributes. Now don't get me wrong. I don't think that PT is a waste of time. Rather, I think one needs to think about the data its providing before blindly following it to change your play. At the very least, it's a good system for players to easily track winnings/losses.

On an unrelated note, last night I was teaching my girlfriend how to play hold em. After going through the basics, she launched up PStars and started playing on the play money Limit holdem tables. After watching her play like 2 hands, I was annoyed and I wasn't even the one playing. I mean seriously what's the point in playing that. I realize it drums up business and gets people interested but these sites should look at hosting these on a different server or something. I mean why waste bandwidth on these games and detract from the connection of those playing for real. In the end, she came to the same conclusion I did and will be depositing some real cash to learn the game at some very low limit tables. Hopefully, she won't become bait and will pick up the game quickly. We shall see.

For those of you in NYC, check out this site. Very offensive but parts are pretty funny. It has been pretty crazy in the city the last few days. It's very odd to see them using city buses to arrest everyone. 1100 arrested last night. Crazy!

As always, thanks for stopping by. Drop me a comment if you have a different take on PT. Thanks to Matt for his input on the thoughts above.