Poker Tracker Data Analysis, Part One
July 19, 2006  
2006 Randy Saylor  

Jason Kirk’s August 10, 2005 review ( of the Poker Tracker software package gave us a nice introduction to the software. This article points out some of the basic data that can be mined from the database and shows a few plug-in software modules that can improve your play.

As pointed out previously, the $55 software license costs less than one buy-in at $2/4. There is simply no excuse for any serious player to not to make this purchase. If you are content to gamble, and have no interest in analyzing your play, fine. You will not win long term either way. However, if you are trying to become a semi-professional online player, or want to build your bankroll the proper way so you can move up limits, you need this software.

You can get started with Poker Tracker by downloading the software at no charge. This trial version includes the full functionality of the licensed version, but only allows you to import 1000 hands.

Hand Histories

Poker Tracker automatically establishes two databases for hands: one for tournaments and one for ring games. As you become proficient, you may care to set up additional databases for certain reasons, but this is neither necessary nor recommended for beginners. It is important to configure the program to recognize your screen name at the different sites you play.

Importing hand histories is accomplished from the “File” drop-down menu.

To demonstrate some functionalities of the software, I downloaded Poker Tracker Omaha (there are versions for Holdem and Stud also) onto a clean PC, played 1000 hands of Omaha Hi-Lo, and imported the hands.

Once you have imported some hands, you can begin to analyze your play. Clicking the ring icon in the taskbar opens your ring game analysis,

which appears as follows.

Basic Analysis Statistics

These are the most basic statistics that can be used by any player to get a feel for their game.

A note about analyzing your play: statistical variance will influence your numbers until you have developed a very large database. Considering that there (52*51)/2 = 1326 possible starting hands in Holdem, it would be unrealistic to put much trust in your Poker Tracker stats until you have accumulated a database of at least 20,000 hands. One hundred thousand will be even more significant.

1) VP$IP. This is one of the most-referred-to stats in online poker. It stands for Voluntarily Put money In Preflop. It is expressed as a percentage (adjusted for times you are in the blinds). It simply shows how loose or tight a player is with starting hands. If your own number is outside the range of 18-23%, you possibly have a major leak in your game. In short-handed games, the number should be higher, but novice players must be careful to play in fuller tables for the experience and integrity of their data.

VP$IP can be used to anticipate other players as well. If you have been at a table for an hour with a player showing 72%, you can safely conclude that player is extremely loose and must adjust your requirements accordingly, especially heads-up.

2) W$WSF. The number of times, expressed as a percentage, that you Won money When you Saw the Flop. A realistic goal for a winning player is 35%. Most online players are in the 20-25% range.

3) BB/100 Hands. This is the number of big bets (example $4 in a 2/4 game) that you are winning (or losing) per 100 hands. The old time poker player rule of “one big bet per hour” does not apply well in online poker, where 70+ hands per hour could be dealt and players may be multi-tabling. This stat tells you how well you are maximizing the pots that you DO win. A good winning standard is 2BB/100 or more.

4) Went to SD%. This is the percentage of hands you took to showdown. This number is not as significant as (5), but can be used in correlation with

5) Won $ at SD%. This is the percentage of times you win when you take a hand to showdown (or are not called on the river). This number cuts both ways. A good goal is 50%. Some good players are as high as 70%. A W$SD number higher, though, may mean a leak in your game. If you win 100% of the time at showdown, it means you are only playing the nuts on the river. This is bad poker, since good players will recognize that you will fold all but the best hands to their bets.

6) PFR%. This is the percentage of time you have raised preflop. In Holdem, 7.5% is considered a good standard. If you are too weak, you may be letting players in too cheaply, or not getting enough value out of your winning hands.

Add-on Software to Improve Functionality

While you should have Poker Tracker open while playing to auto-import your hand histories, accessing the data while in a game is cumbersome. Certain add-on software acts as a user interface with the poker site client and projects opponent data onto your desktop (sometimes in a different window, sometimes directly onto the “table” you are playing). These opponent stats can let you act and react with confidence.

Game Time + and Poker Ace HUD (heads-up display) are two of the most common add-ons. Some game analysis add-ons are against the terms and conditions of some sites, because they may perform more functions than simple stat-keeping. It is important to read each site’s T&C for analysis software before running it. Remember that you agreed that all sites can scan your registry for active software. If you are using a prohibited program, the site could suspend your account.

Other available add-ons can “grab” hand histories from certain sites that auto-import is not available through the game client.

Next week, I will discuss the next steps of Poker Tracker use: game selection using autorate, and offline hand analysis.

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