I often get asked this question by players who hate the thought of getting too technical with their poker playing. Many players want to play poker, but they don’t want to be at a great disadvantage to the “Borg” out there. They are the multi-tabling CardRunner types who know good solid poker and who use tracking software packages to sharpen their edge against non-users.

The question is, could a player operate successfully at NL600 continuously without using tracking software of any kind? That’s a tough question and anyone who answers that easily is probably guilty of not looking at the entire picture. Firstly, it is possible to make money consistently at fairly high levels and I class NL600 as high these days judging by the quality of the players who are in those games.

But when I say “possible” then that is precisely what I mean….. “possible” and not “probable”. The word “possible” carries with it many variables but one thing is absolutely certain and this is that for any player to beat NL600, or even NL200 to NL400, then they must be a very skilled.

I have played at high stakes and done well without using tracker software. I used Poker Office for a couple of years now but it is certainly not essential to my method of operation. If you are multi-tabling then they are literally essential. However, any solid player could multi-table numerous tables without using tracker software if the opposition was weak enough.

During my poker challenge (back in 2008-2009) I played as many as eleven tables of full-ring NL50 without any problem whatsoever and I was able to maintain a good hourly rate. This is not what I am referring to. At low-stakes and micro-stakes levels any solid player should make money. But I used to switch sites very frequently when I was not using Poker Office simply because I was aware of the situation developing where my opponents were getting access to vital data on me in greater and greater numbers.

This was being compounded by the fact that using tracker data wasn’t something that I liked doing as it didn’t fit in with how I liked to play poker. As players become more sophisticated, the tracker metrics become less reliable. When I am single-tabling and honing in on the table and getting a really good feel then I am very conscious of my table image.

My meta-game represents a very large part of how I play and even though I know that many of my opponents are multi-tabling, their own individual tracker programs will be helping them to see how I play……or how they think I play. If I raise from the button with a 34% range, then entering 34% into PokerStove will not tell you what my range is……far from it.

I could easily raise with any two cards (in theory) from that position given certain game dynamics. I am not the only player to do this and many strong players at the higher levels have what I called “floating ranges”. These are often based on meta-game factors and taking advantage of opponent patterns.

So, if I feel that my opponent in the cut-off has been opening too liberally, then I will look to play back aggressively. Whether I choose to three bet or call and then make a post flop play is academic. But no tracker data will properly reveal that pattern when each individual play is done for reasons that are specific to each different dynamic.

What general tracker data tells you are rough averages even when taken over large sample sizes! These statistics reveal less as you move up through the levels and is why many players at nosebleed levels do not use them. They struggle to pick up situational trickiness or situations where a player’s ranges have changed due to emotional factors or because the losses could be affecting them.

If a player is doing something different over a fifty hand period or over one hundred hands due to factors that I find hard to see then I want to know about it. But having said all this, my preferred method is to single table higher limit games because I am not good enough to multi-table them. So the answer is “yes”…… a player can make decent money without using tracker software, but only if certain criteria are in place.

Carl "The Dean" Sampson can be seen at his blog # and ACR Poker.

Carl Sampson

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Do You Need Poker Tracking Software to Make Money?
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