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A “read” or “tell” in poker is information that you get about your opponent that causes you to change your entire strategy or how you play in any given situation. Because you cannot actually see your opponents in online poker then your reads have to be of a technical nature appertaining to how your opponents play on the whole or how they play in certain situations. Many players put too much emphasis on these pieces of information and data information can be massively misleading. Of late tracking programs have become mainstream and many serious players have been using them.

 
However it has to be said that tracking programs merely collect and then reveal how your opponent has played in the past as a mean average. What it doesn’t do is reveal how they are possibly playing in the present or against you personally. Let us look at a few examples and reasons to see how “data” in the modern online poker world may not be the be all and end all. For example if your tracker or software package reveals how much someone is behind or ahead then how accurate is this?

 
Firstly earn rates in the short term can be wildly inaccurate and many strong players show grossly different earn rates over different 100k hand sample sizes. Many new players would be amazed at that but it is entirely true. Also we live in an era where most semi-decent players study poker and some devote their entire life to it. This means that a player can evolve and with it their game at a very rapid rate. I know personally that I am not the same player compared to what I was last year. All it takes is for someone to read something in a poker book and then implement it to not be the same poker player.

 
This means that any data or statistics that you had on these people are no longer of any use. The fact is though, how long will it take you to find this out? Then when you start to encounter very strong players then once again data can be massively misleading. Looking at a players’ 3/bet stats for example only shows a mean average. However they could be 3/betting one type of opponent very widely indeed but narrowly 3/betting someone else.

 
Then when they see how you play they adjust once again. The fact of the matter is that good players will adjust to individual opponents. This means that “stats” need to be used differently. For example tilt is a short term thing and not something that is easily revealed in long term statistics. This is also something that a player needs to spot visually and then adjust manually rather than rely on some tracker program. Do not get me wrong, tracker programs are important but these days we live in a world where players either constantly evolve their games or at higher levels they are constantly adjusting…….all of which means that much of the data that you collect is meaningless.

 

 

Carl Sampson is an online poker pro and 888poker ambassador

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