Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Not happy with Poker Tracker

I'm still in the free trial period for Poker Tracker 3, and I'm sure glad they offer one, because I'm not feeling inclined to buy it, and if I had paid for it, I would be getting even more irritated with the product than I am now.

It's buggy. At least three times the HUD has vanished for no apparent reason in the middle of a game (or two or three), and the software won't respond to any commands. I have had to resort to the Task Manager to force it to shut down, then restart.

It also occasionally does weird things such as shown above. I was doing two SNGs at a time, as I commonly do. It seemed to be working normally, but then the HUD blinked off on the game on the right. It took me several minutes to notice that the HUD on the game on the left had changed in a rather important way at the same time: It was now showing me stats for the seats on the right-hand game! If you look closely, you can see that the names in the HUD match the corresponding seats in the other game. If I had changed the display to omit the players' names in order to save screen space, as one commenter suggested when I first installed the program, I would never have noticed this, and would have been relying on completely false numbers. That is completely unacceptable. Erroneous data is far worse than no data at all.

And it does compile erroneous data. In one game, I raised the very first hand with K-K and won, but for another 20 hands or so, until I raised pre-flop for the second time, it continued to show my pre-flop raising percentage for that table as zero. Yes, Tracker had been on and set to import hands well before the SNG started. That makes me wonder what else it's missing or getting wrong that I haven't noticed.

The HUD blinks off for several seconds when it's updating. Annoyingly, this is often right when I need it most, when somebody has put in a raise and I want to evaluate how much weight to give it. BOOM--HUD is off for five seconds or so, and I don't know how long until it will be back. Extremely irritating.

I had heard that one needed to do periodic maintenance on the database in order to keep it from getting bogged down. I went to the web site for "how-to" instructions on this. The options for how to do this maintenance were baffling. I'd like to think that I'm a pretty smart guy, and I definitely have more education than any decent person needs. But I could not make heads or tails of what this section of the FAQ was trying to tell me to do, nor why.

Similarly, I had noticed a feature about marking hands for later review. Great. I figured out how to mark one during a game. But then I wanted to find it to, y'know, do the "later review" part. Checked all the menu options and tabs I could find--nothing. Went to the web site, finally tracked down a couple of places where people were talking about this feature in the forums. Apparently I am not the only one to be confounded by how to employ this feature, because there was more than one question about "where are the marked hands?" But even when I tried to follow the instructions provided, I couldn't. I simply could not find the sequence of steps/options they were trying to get me to follow. Again I emphasize that I'm not a generally dense or helpless person. I can nearly always get computers to do whatever I need them to do, and I can follow directions as well as the next guy. If I can't figure out how to do something that should be incredibly simple--like find a hand marked for later review--even after I've read your instructions, then the software is badly designed, the instructions are poorly written, or both.

My final gripe is that the HUD doesn't do one of its most basic tasks consistently, at least on Bodog. If there is a bet and call on the river, the little "after-image" display will show only the hand(s) that Bodog showed itself. If the loser mucks without showing, the HUD will not display those cards, even though I can retrieve that information by going into Bodog's "last hand" history. In other words, the data is there, but not displayed. The ability to skip the time-consuming and distracting step of opening the last-hand history page was one of the chief reasons I wanted a HUD in the first place, and the damn software won't do it consistently.

I know that this is a very powerful analytic tool. Maybe I have something set wrong. But good software design makes at least the most basic and commonly used features easy to find and use. With good design, a user should be able to ask himself, "What would be the easiest or most obvious way to make X happen?" and then find that, lo and behold, that is exactly what works. Tracker has not even a trace of such thoughtful design. Most likely there are solutions to all of my problems, were I to invest enough time to learn the ins and outs, and navigate the thicket of bewildering menu options. But I don't want to. I want to play poker, I don't want to play Poker Tracker. It's supposed to be a tool that helps me, not something that requires more attention than the game itself. Tracker may be like the power of a snarling Lamborghini, but I really want something as simple and reliable as a Toyota Camry. I'd happily forego a complex feature set for ease of use and dependability.

The bottom line: In addition to being buggy and unreliable, the program is complex, obtuse, opaque, and mysterious even when it's working the way it's supposed to.

It's time to download Hold'Em Manager for its trial period and see if it's any better suited to my needs and expectations.


Anonymous said...

holdem manager wipes the floor with pt3 so you should be happier

hem also has amazing support - there is a thread dedicated to it on 2+2, their own forums or direct email help

hem2 is very new so will be buggy but if you download hem1 and like it...can buy hem1 and get hem2 free when it is released in full!


matt tag said...

one note: the HUD can be set up to not show stats until x number of hands are available. It's under "Configure HUD" on the "HUD Options" tab, called "Minimum Hands Required". Most people set this right away to 1.

I switched from PT3 to HoldemManager myself (before Black Friday, sigh), but it was more for depth of information than bugginess. I don't recall PT3 being that buggy.

Cranky said...

I agree that PT 3 doesn't work. Before PT 3, you used a separate HUD product in combo with PT 2 and, for me, that worked perfecctly. I could never get the HUD to work right on PT 3. I never got any resolution through support, which was very surprising, as support was great in the early days of the product. I just had to stop using it altogether.

The Poker Meister said...


I have not used PT3 through Bodog, but I know that Bodog is treated "differently" than the majority of other poker clients. Bodog does their best to obscure hand histories through the use of trackers, so you may be experiencing those artifacts.

As an alternate, I use HEM. In order to get HEM working with Bodog, I am forced to use an additional tool called Idleminer Bodog Hand Grabber. It essentially screen-scrapes and writes hands to disk. HEM works great for cash games (and I believe single table SNGs). Its drawback is multi-table tourneys, which it cannot track. If you search on my blog, I have done an extensive write up of the HEM & Idleminer.

The Poker Meister said...

One other thing: the last hand history does not contain the losing showdown hand. Bodog does not easily display this information, and to a screen scraper (I assume PT3 uses the same method as Idleminer), the data simply is not there. As you, the player, you need to perform an additional step in order to see the losing hand. The screen scraping software can not easily perform the task of looking up the last hand history.

edgie212 said...

I can tell you with certainty that HEM does no better job with Bodog than PT3 does. There is apparently something with the software that causes the HUD to disappear on both programs, and the only way to get it back is to click again. I own both programs, and the same issue happens with both. I personally prefer PT3 to HEM as I feel like getting bogged down with all the analytics in HEM is just not for me. I do hear that PT4, whenever it comes out, will be great, and PT3 owners will get a deep discount on it. Anyway - Bodog has issues with both programs.

Brendan said...

The obvious reason for the problems with Bodog is that fact that Bodog discourages the use of HUDs and trackers, and does everything they can to foil them. Bodog isn't looking for "serious" poker players, as evidenced by the fact that they severely limit how many tables you can play at a time (3 or 4, right?).

OhCaptain said...

Glad to know PT3 is still not good. I wrote about it a while ago. Just not good.