-Tracker and -Office: I See the Future

While investigating Poker Office for a contrasting review between it and Poker Tracker, I caught a glimpse of the potential future of online play-tracking software. I don’t want to get sidetracked into a full review of these products, but I would like to say that there are serious issues in the current generation, depending on your usage. However, it looks like major changes which are occurring in the immediate present might change the way we use these programs.

Ok, ok, some background is needed and worth covering. There are a number of ways to use these programs to your advantage which are reminiscent of the “levels of thinking” which so many people make reference to (try Theory of Poker by David Sklansky on page 237).

  • Introspection: Players who think they’re playing well can see some solid statistics on how they are acting instead of relying on their perception of their own actions. This gives beginning players concrete feedback on tightness and aggression.
  • Opponent analysis: You can see opponent profiles and hands called down.
  • Third level analysis: Look at your most profitable and biggest losing hands of your session. Run through the playback feature and putyourself in your oppenent’s shoes. Was there any action you could have taken to make your opponent play incorrectly? Could you have seen that action without knowing his exact cards?

The problems are mainly in database performance. Start pushing 100K hands through Poker Tracker’s Access database and you won’t be able to use the heads-up features of Gametime+. You’ll bring your computer to a crawl. Similar comments have been made about Poker Office and it’s java database’s performance.

But Poker Office has just come out with the ability to use MySQL as a backend database and Pokertracker developers have promised a beta with this feature in the very near future. MySQL, for those who don’t know, is a free/open-source database server which “grew up” focusing on performance. While Poker Office currently describes installing on one’s Windows machine, it’s quite conceivable that a user could install on a remote machine, with all of the upload/query traffic being done over a network connection.

Once you imagine all of the database heavy lifting being done by an external server, it’s possible to imagine tracking as a service. Ok, let me back off that idea, and buid up to it. Imagine you’re a college student in a dorm with an already installed high-speed network. If your play-tracking database is on a remote machine, why shouldn’t your roommate’s database be on the same server? In fact, why not grant each other permission to query each other’s databases about opponents? Very helpful if one of you focuses more on tournaments and the other on ring-games. Well, if you two are sharing data on the same machine, why not open it up to everyone else in the dorm?

Now what if you bought a really beefy server and located it at a commercial internet facility and allowed anyone with a broadband connection to locate thier play-tracking databases on it? The actual client on your Windows box could be much lighter-weight. Perhaps more focus could be put on real-time features like heads-up displays.

There’s a company out there which does something like this. You run a client which uploads your hand-histories, and in return, you get analysis of your opponents collected by others. But the analysis isn’t anything like what you can do with Poker Tracker or Poker Office.

Conan O’Brien: It’s time once again, to look into the future…
Andy Richter: The future, Conan?
Conan: Yes, Andy, the future. All the way to the Year 2000…

I’m not greedy. If I can run my own MySQL server and upload/query my tracker data from multiple computers, I’ll be happy. But the future is coming.

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