An Introduction to Poker Tracking Software

By Tim Ryerson | September 14, 2010

One of the big differences between online poker and live poker is that online poker rooms provide users with a wealth of information and statistics. Every hand you play is recorded and as an online poker player you have access to a huge amount of data, such as hand histories, tournament summaries, and other statistical reports. You can and should use this information to analyze your play and improve your poker skills.

How does poker tracking software work? Well, all the data comes from the hand history information that online poker rooms provide you with. Hand histories are saved onto your computer each time you play at an online poker room – and the poker tracking software imports this information into a local database on your computer. It will then use this data and provide you with all sorts of detailed reports and analysis.

Tracking Your Game

Even if you’re just a small stakes recreational online poker player, I highly recommend using poker tracking software.

Poker tracking software showing stats

Here are just a few of the things that poker tracking software will do for you:

  • Track your ring game sessions and tournament play, logging your wins/losses.
  • Tells you how many times you saw the flop, bet, raised, won/lost with any particular starting hand.
  • Let’s you know how many times you’ve made a Royal flush (or any other hand).
  • Know for sure what your best and worst hands are, and from what position.
  • Allow you to mark interesting hands you played and replay them later on.
  • Help you to find leaks in your game that you might not otherwise spot.

Tracking Your Opponents

In addition to tracking and analyzing your own game, you can also use poker tracking software to get detailed information about your opponents. This is because each hand history file also contains information about your opponents, and this information is parsed along with your own statistics. The more times you play against your opponents, the more information you’ll have about how they play. With a large enough sample size, this information can prove invaluable.

Heads-Up Display (HUD)

The best poker tracking software comes equipped with a Heads-Up Display (HUD), which runs while you play online poker and displays your opponent’s vital statistics directly onto the poker table. Here’s an example of a HUD in action:

Example of a HUD

You can configure your HUD to show a variety of important statistics about your opponents. The most common are:

  • VPIP – Voluntary money put into the pot % (not including blinds).
  • PFR – Pre-flop raise %
  • AF – Aggression factor

These statistics will indicate the style of play of your opponents, provided they are based on a large enough sample size. There are many more statistics available, such as how often do they re-raise, fold to a continuation bet, attempts to steal, and so on. Such detailed statistics are vital for any serious online poker cash game player, since they allow you to make better decisions while you play based on your previous playing history you have with your opponents.

Is Tracking Opponents an “Unfair Advantage”?

Dedicated online poker players will always be looking to gain an edge over their opponents. The use of poker tracking software such as Hold’em Manager is deemed acceptable by the major online poker rooms, except in cases when the data is based upon “information on opponents a player has little or no personal experience playing against”, and which is “deemed to be an unfair advantage” (Full Tilt Poker). PokerStars also consider it an unfair advantage when a user “accesses or compiles information on other players beyond that which the user has personally observed through the users own game play.”

Using information that you have acquired from your own time at the table is regarded as fair game by most online poker rooms. If you’re serious about online poker then you should be using poker tracking software, particularly if you’re playing in cash games – otherwise you’re losing a big edge to your opponents, who are probably tracking your play. Remember though, poker tracking software doesn’t tell you how to play against your opponents – it just gives you more information about them, and it’s up to you to decide how to act upon this information.

What is the Best Poker Tracking Software?

There are only two poker tracking software tools on the market that are worthy of any mention, and they are “Hold’em Manager” and “Poker Tracker”. They are often referred to as “HEM” and “PT4” (Poker Tracker, version 4). They are both powerful analytical tools which are used by thousands of online poker players. There is some debate as to which of these is the best online poker tracking software. Having tested both I would say they are both good choices but I would recommend Poker Tracker as it’s much easier to use and since version 4 was released, it has more useful features. Download it and test it free for 30 days by visiting PokerTracker!

By Tim Ryerson

Tim is from London, England and has been playing poker since the late 1990’s. He is the ‘Editor-in-Chief’ at and is responsible for all the content on the website.


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