Poker” (CC BY 2.0) by ND Strupler|
Caption: four of a kind Aces in a hand of poker

When Tim Berners-Lee created the world wide web in 1990, he wanted a way for everyone to share information in a more efficient way. Although the internet is awash with a lot of useless stuff these days, it’s also one of the most valuable sources of information we have. Indeed, if you look at almost any industry, you’ll find that online platforms have become the best way to enhance your skills. For example, in 2017, DCU launched an online tool so that students could create virtual portfolios of their achievements. The idea behind this innovation was that it would allow them to identify their strengths and weakness as well as give employers a better overview of potential candidates.

This ability to teach people using the internet has been embraced by a myriad of industries in recent years, not least poker. Being a game where learning new skills is paramount, brands, developers and experts have all worked to create a variety of training resources for players of all skill levels, four of which we’ve profiled below.

Advanced Poker Training: Active and Passive Training

For novices, Advanced Poker Training is a website that offers two types of training: passive and active. In the first instance, videos and live broadcasts from professional players (see screenshot above) outline a range of concepts through a combination of theoretical discussions and practical scenarios. Video has long been an effective way to teach poker players, as it allows viewers to see how a pro thinks in real time. Indeed, when you look at a platform like Twitch, it’s easy to see why it attracts 15 million active daily users. As well as providing a way to learn new skills, Twitch streams are also entertaining. This dual purpose has crossed over into the poker industry thanks to sites such as Advanced Poker Training.

Building on these videos, subscribers can also access a variety of training scenarios where they get to play 500 hands against computer simulations. At the end of each game, a player can have their decisions rated in a weekly report which outlines what they did well and where they need to improve. This level of granular training is something that wouldn’t have been available to poker players 20 years ago. When the likes of Doyle Brunson were coming up, they had to rely on snippets of knowledge from their peers as well as trial and error. For modern players, trial and error comes for free (other than the price of a subscription to a training site) and, more importantly, with high-level feedback.

Poker Fighter: Training at a Granular Level

Similar to Advanced Poker Training is Poker Fighter (see video demo above). Developed by Stas Tishkevich, this tool takes developments in artificial intelligence and plugs them into an online poker simulator. In fact, what this product does differently to many of the 741,000 “poker training” results Google throws up is it adds an element of “gamification” to the experience. Now something of a buzzword online, “gamification” essentially means the process of adding gaming/entertainment elements to something that’s not traditionally a video game.

In the case of Poker Fighter, players are taken through a series of cash game scenarios where their moves are analysed by the software. However, in order to make the product more appealing to casual players, characters and points have been introduced. These features allow users to adopt a persona and, moreover, battle against their peers. Essentially, Poker Fighter turns the process of learning into a game where everyone is striving to make the best moves in order to accrue the most points.

Test Your Poker: Establish Your Baseline IQ

Another example of a novice-friendly aid is Test Your Poker. Taking inspiration from the culture of online IQ tests, this piece of software allows players to answer a series of questions in order to determine their skill level. The initial test is free, which allows players to establish a baseline “poker IQ.” From this initial test, subscribers can use a detailed breakdown of their weaknesses to focus their learning. What’s interesting about this product is that it allows players to specifically target any holes in their game. The “poker IQ” provides scores in 12 different categories, while training plan address three areas that someone needs to work on.

Without the efficiency of the internet, this level of analysis simply wouldn’t be possible. Indeed, a lot of poker training apps used to simply offer a series of general lessons that don’t really serve the user’s specific needs. However, by using Test Your Poker, a player can essentially see how their knowledge compares to the average player and then look closely at what areas of their game they need to improve. In essence, this app’s greatest value is in telling users what they need to focus on, rather than giving them a lot of detailed poker information.

PokerTracker: The Professional’s Tool

 

If Test Your Poker is a way for novices to understand where they need to focus their learning, PokerTracker is a tool for those that already know. Launched in 2001 and now in its fourth iteration, the software allows players to track both their moves and those of their opponents (see image above) in real-time and store. The end result is a huge database of statistics that players can use to run simulations, compile graphs and highlight areas they need to improve.

For beginners, conducting this sort of statistical analysis is not only tricky but unproductive. Without a grounding in what the numbers mean and what the pros would do in a given scenario, they can’t learn. However, if you’re an experienced player, you’ll have logged hundreds of hours online and, therefore, have a wealth of knowledge with which to give the numbers some context. This, in turn, makes PokerTracker an extremely powerful tool. Although the three products above all provide users with an impressive level of information, none of them can match the acute level of analysis PokerTracker provides. Essentially, once you have a solid foundation, this tool allows you to refine your skills and push the small edges that count once you enter the upper echelons of poker.

As you can see, the variety of resources out there for aspiring poker players is second to none. From the very basics to the elite level, there are tools to help everyone improve. For those wanting to learn, it’s simply a matter of finding the right product for your level of skill and competence.


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