22/05/2008

Big Brother is Watching

Carl Sampson 'The Dean'

Last week I started a thread on tracking software and sought to find peoples views and opinions of it on this forum and I would like to say thank you to all who replied. But we have come to a stage where having no artificial software aid to help you is starting to seriously handicap the online player simply because so many people are using tracking software of some description.

Over the past few weeks I have been using Poker Edge which I think is a great piece of software that has many advantages over Poker Tracker and Poker Office. This is because it is not necessarily dependent on gathering your own data from players who you have never seen before and allows you to use an already established database of information on literally millions of players.

Although you do have to be careful which sites you use this on as many sites don’t allow it as I have found out. Although maybe someone who understands these things better than me can perhaps tell me why a site that allows certain types of tracking software to interact with it will not allow others as I don’t know the answer to that one but then again I am not a techie.

But just how essential is tracking software? Well I think that with all software, you simply have to learn how to get the best out of it. In that thread last week, I mentioned an analogy with chess and software has been used with increasing effect in that field now for many years dating back to the famous man vs machine match involving David Levy in 1978.

But the sophistication of chess software has dramatically increased over the years to a stage where the very best programs can beat the best human players in the world even over proper tournament time limits. But taking a look at Poker Tracker for instance, this is a great piece of software yet it does have numerous limitations like all software.

The danger comes when you have no expert input of your own. While following everything that the software indicates will improve your game, it will also prevent you from surpassing a certain level unless you can dovetail your own expertise along with it. In a sense, to actually use your own knowledge base to help the software out and to actually work as a team rather than just blindly follow everything that it indicates.

Following everything that the program did was a way for novice and intermediate correspondence chess players to dramatically improve their results almost instantly. This is of course cheating as you are no longer playing the game but the program is. The best chess players simply used software but in a far more effective way and used it to sharpen parts of their games where conventional methods may have failed. Many then started to use chess programs to help them with adjourned games in the same way as they would with a human “second”.

But the way to get the best out of any software is to be at a level where you can also use your own judgement as well so that the software is not acting alone. This principle stands true irrespective of the field, whether you are trading on the exchanges with something like BetAngel or trading stocks using software like Indexia for instance, the principle is the same. You are not going to be a stock market wizard with nothing more than a piece of software to help you if you have no expertise of your own. In this instance, you will be behind all of the people who are using the software who also have years of experience and knowledge behind them and know when to disregard it.

But you need to be able to get the best out of any piece of software and you can only do this with software like Poker Tracker by dovetailing your own expertise along with it. But where software can be hugely effective is in game and site selection. It is critical in poker to be able to find games with players who you can beat. This may involve scouring the site or even scouring numerous sites in order to find a beatable game.

Obviously what constitutes a beatable game differs greatly from one player to the next but it is a huge advantage to be able to know which players are strong from those that are weak before you even sit down at the table. This has to be a money making piece of software if used correctly but even this will not tell you what to do with every single decision.

But online poker is entering into (has entered into) a whole new phase and while I am not overly convinced about the overall ethics of it, one thing is certain and this is that they are here to stay. So in order to get ahead and stay ahead then you will need assistance if you are going to achieve those goals. Do not work alone, two minds are better than one and if that second mind is an artificial one then so be it…..just don’t let it become boss.

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