Poker Tracker Data Analysis, Part Two
July 28, 2006  
© 2006 Randy Saylor  

Last week, I showed some of the basic functionalities of the Poker Tracker software and how it can be used to derive statistical feedback on your game.

Since poker is, at its core, a game of numbers, odds, and probabilities, the chances are good that if you have solid numbers, you have a solid game. It is crucial not to put to much faith in your numbers unless you have a fairly large database to allow for statistical variation. The minimum number of hands you should consider reliable is 20,000. The more data you have on your (and your opponents’) playing style, the more reliable it will be.

Poker Tracker is much, much more than some basic percentages. Two of the best features are the ability to micro-analyze your play and the ability to rate your opponents based on predetermined statistical norms.

Hand Analysis

What makes up a hand? If you ask a pro for help with a hand analysis, you’re going to get a lot of questions, like these:

Tournament or ring game?
How many at the table?
What position were you in?
What was the action to you?
What were your reads on those opponents who acted before you?
What were your hole cards?
Did you call, raise, or re-raise?
What happened after you acted?
What position was that caller in?
What did the blinds do?
What was the flop?

…followed by about 83 more questions. Asking “How should I play AJ offsuit preflop from under the gun?” isn’t enough. Checking your Poker Tracker database allows you to look at all the times you held a certain hand in a certain position. Over the course of a large database, you will find many such instances. Such microanalysis will let you take your game to new levels by finding, and plugging, the small leaks.

Filtering the Data

The “Filters…” button opens a dialogue that allows you to be very selective in your analysis.

I filtered the data to find all instances where I was dealt AA42, a very good starting hand in Omaha Hi-Lo. I chose not to filter for suited cards, as this trial database only contains 1000 hands.

These results show that I won $15.50 total over 1000 hands with AA42, or 1.29 BB/hand. I played it all three times I was dealt it, raising twice preflop. Once I split the pot with a high hand, once I won high and low, and once I won high and split low. The data shows my position in each hand, and by clicking on the specific game (hand) number, I can get the exact details of the play, including any Poker Tracker stats I have accumulated on the other players in the hand.

Now you can stop guessing about your ability to play certain hands profitably, and start checking the data. If you continually make the right plays and keep gambling and tilting out of your game, the numbers will bear you out over time. Poker Tracker study helps you do this.

Autorating Opponents

Poker Tracker has a fantastic feature to let you know whom you’re facing. As you accumulate hand histories against your targeted players, Poker Tracker can provide you the same statistics about them that you can get for yourself. PT can help you find the maniacs (high-risk, high reward), the loose-passive fish (great targets), or the calling stations (great opponents, but don’t bluff them).

Once you have a large opponent database, you can practice table selection more carefully. Finding a full ring table with 5 of the potential opponents rated can be a gold mine, as long as they’re not rated as sharks.

Poker Tracker will run endlessly, watching tables and collecting data. You don’t need to be actively playing. If you regularly play the same sites and limits, you can observe countless tables and collect data on your future opponents.

Some players find that their particular playing style works best against certain types of opponents. Maniacs might run you over, but a table of calling stations builds your bankroll. Let Poker Tracker tell you your ideal opponent and then (most importantly) find them.

Session Notes

The PT software breaks down every single table you play at. It notes the time of day, day of week, number of hands, and results. Perhaps your play drops off after midnight because you are tired. Maybe you play while “working”, but your play is too tight and weak because you are not focused. Session Notes help you narrow down time and site specific results.

Tournament Thoughts

Poker Tracker is great for studying your tournament results, but a certain caution must be applied. The rising blinds and changing positions make it difficult to study your opponents’ play. You must take their action in context with the situation they were in at the time. You might never play a hand in a ring game that you should make an all-in steal attempt with in the right tournament situation. Use PT to check your tournament results, but remember this caution. PT keeps separate tournament and ring game databases for this reason.
Next week’s Poker Tracker article closes this series by looking at the leaks that can be identified through data analysis.

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