It's been a long time since my last post (Sorry about that!), but that means I have a lot to write about.
Right after my last post I took 11 days off in a row. It was great! When I finally sat back down at the computer to play again I was refreshed and definitely in the mood for some poker.
Since I got my clock cleaned in December (which was by far the worst month I've ever had) I decided to back way off and try to book some small wins. I started off playing four $5/$10 games planning on playing 2,500-3,000 hands a day, 6 days a week for the rest of the month. That plan lasted about an hour and soon enough I had some $10/$20 and $15/$30 games in the mix. While I did fine at $15/$30 and $5/$10 I didn't do so hot at the $10/$20 games on my first or second day back so while I'm close to even I'm stuck a little in the new year.
On my third day back I finally got around to doing something that I've been thinking about for a long time. I bought some tracking software. Let me tell you it is very cool and I'm kicking myself for not getting around to it sooner.
The software I bought is called Poker Office (you can get it at pokeroffice.com)and it costs about $85 to download a copy which is good for 1 year. It keeps track of every action of every hand you play and accumulates data on you and your opponents.
What I really wanted it for is the feature where it tracks how much you've won or lost with each of the 169 possible starting hands. I'm sure that there are some hands that I'm playing far from perfect and to be able to look back and see exactly how much I'm losing or winning per hand is going to be a great help.
Of course it will also tell you how often you took a given hand to the flop or to showdown, what percentage of the time you raised with a given hand, what percentage of the time you won with it and a few more facts all presented in an easy to read chart.
The software will also tell you how many dollars you won and lost in each position. The button is spot 0, the small blind is 1, the big blind is 2 and so on. What jumped out at me was the insane difference between the blinds and the rest of the positions. Under the gun (Pos 3), I netted $504 in my last 4,000 hands of $5/$10. In Spot 4 I won $209, in spot 5 I won $1,048, on the button I made $521, in the sb I lost $110 and in the big blind I lost $1,955! Of course it makes sense that I'd lose the most when I was forced to put in $5 regardless of what I had, but the difference was still surprising to me.
I noticed this phenomenon right away and realized that I've been playing too loose in the big blind. For some reason I was calling way to many raises with weak and marginal hands and then check folding. I suspect this was costing me a fortune. After making some significant adjustments to my big blind play, it felt like my results improved immediately.
I don't think I have enough data yet to do analysis on specific starting hands, but my plan is to play 20,000 hands of 5/10 and see what the data tells me.
But wait, there's more! As I mentioned the software also tracks all of my opponents and I can look at what they did and how they fared with every starting hand too! While it's not practical to look at stats for every player I encounter it certainly helps to see what the regulars are doing.
Also all of this data is sorted so you can get a snapshot of everybody. There is a list of every opponent I've played against (an astounding 330 different players over the course of just 4,000 hands!) the number of hands they played, the % of hands won, the % they saw the flop, the dollars they won total, the dollars won per hand, the % of the time they won when they saw the flop, the % of hands they took to showdown, the % the won at showdown, and how often they raised preflop.
What's great is the list is dynamic. The first thing I did when I got a fair amount of data was see who was seeing the flop the highest percentage of the time. With one click I had a list of every player in order of the percentage of time they saw the flop. Of course there were a few players whose numbers were skewed because they'd only play a handful of hands. But there were a few players who were seeing 50% of the flops or more and I had 100+ hands of data on them.
Another thing I looked at was who was raising too much, and who was raising barely at all. I played 70 hands against one player and he never raised once while a few other players were raising 40% of the time or more!
Of course the best case is if you can find someone who is seeing the flop too much and not raising at all.
Another thing you can do which I haven't explored too much is having some of this information (up to 4 pieces of data) displayed right on the table next to the corresponding opponent. The big problem I have with it is the text is too small and it adds significantly to my eye fatigue, but I'm not going to rule out using it in the future. Frankly I've only had a few days to play around with it and I know there are more capabilities as far as graphs, charts and other more exotic statics go.
It might seem like this software is somehow illegal, but it's on the list of approved software on the pokerstars website (there is a lengthy list of banned software as well).
In other news I found out today that the FTOPS XI starts on February 4th. I thought the FTOPS was a semiannual occurrence, but I guess it's more frequent. After looking at the schedule it's looks almost exactly the same as the FTOPS X. Hopefully I'll have a similar result!
Another minor piece of good news is I got pokerstars to raise my deposit limits on the instant methods so I won't have another fiasco like I did at the end of last year where I was running out of money in my account.
I think that's all for now, but I'll try to keep you posted on the data tracking and any epiphanys that it leads to. And of course you can look out for daily posts once the FTOPS XI starts. Here is the full schedule for those of you who are interested.