How to game select like a professional

Right after adding Pokertableratings as a partners, it’s probably the right time to go into more depth why game selection and data mining is so important these days.

How to game select like a professional

I´ve already written a bit about this in my posts “How do you make money at poker” and “How big is your edge?”. It is fairly self evident WHY game selecting is crucial to your bottom line. Nevertheless it amazes me again and again how unprofessional many players are when it comes to game selection.

Debate about the ethics of data mining

I have literally no clue why there are ethical debates about data mining or using tracking software at all. Some people say you gain an unfair advantage over the competition. To be more precise, over the amateur, since every pro uses tracking software these days.

But well, we can lead this argument ad absurdum pretty fast. If you say not everybody has the same chance, I can predict a long, dark and stoney road that you´ll have to go down. You shouldn´t play poker or open a competitive business at all, because not everybody is born with the same intelligence. Yes, this might sound absurd, but all those debates about “not having an equal chance” are just – in good poker slang – tilting. I don´t mean it cynically when I say that life is neither fair nor just. It simply IS that way and we can either accept it and make the best out of it or become miserable. This however is a choice EVERYBODY can make (more about this topic in my post “Mindset #1 – Stoicism). Also, everybody can buy software and everybody can educate themselves. It’s a choice.

Poker is a game & fight for information

When I used to play professionally, I was big into data mining. Tried to do it myself, but found out after a while that it’s a big hassle. So a couple of friends of mine and myself hired a guy to data mine the hands that we needed. I´m sure he sold it to others as well. I don´t know exactly how much we paid, but it was probably around $300/month. Sounds a lot, but we had very specific needs and for him mining 100 of the hands we needed was as time consuming as mining 100k hands for others. Now here´s the deal, we knew EVERYTHING and had a big information advantage over everybody else. This was at the time when I was moving up the limits. I knew the next day who the new fish were on the site. Not to brag, but think I´m very good when it comes to squeezing out the extra edge. It’s not like others couldn´t have done it. But it wasn´t as easy to get it as it is today. And like always, some people will not take advantage of opportunities.

The advantage of buying & having datamined hands

Knowing how a fish plays can have a huge impact, especially in the first hands, when you should be playing rather carefully in order to avoid being hit’n’runned. With regs it’s also a big help, because if you´re not up for a big battle, but like to play weaker regulars, it is very helpful to know who the 10BB winners are, and who the 1BB winners are.

After a time I stopped to data mine. I felt my edge was too big. Ok, I´m kidding! But I did stop data mining when I basically knew everybody and at the same time, the higher you play, the smaller the overall player pool gets anyways.  This was when I played Heads UP poker. After pokertableratings appeared, more people were going to have access easier to the same information I already had for a long time.

I really have no clue at all why any smart reg would not use that info. If you play fairly often and 24 tables, you probably have a lot of hands. But even then (I have done it myself), sample sizes can´t be big enough.

How to use datamining to your advantage

When playing 6max I can not imagine why any professional would not data mine or get himself the hands. It’s a big advantage, because most players are still too lazy to take this step.

On the other side, you´re also kind of pressured to get into buying hands yourself, because the edge your opponents get is too significant. You can see that I am right about this point, by simply looking how many people complain about Pokertableratings (PTR). I´m a vicitm myself, because a lot of people wouldn’t even play 10 hands with you, unless you were extremely bad.

Personally I´m glad that I don´t have to deal with technical stuff of that nature anymore. I even hated to configure and install Poker Tracker and later holdem manager. But, I did have a professional attitude and despite not liking it, I tortured myself to set up and configure myself a decent environment. It was a duty, not a pleasure. Now I expect you to take advantage of services like Pokertableratings. It’s sad that I have to point this out, but I´m not giving the advice because I advertise them. This obviously doesn’t hurt, but I´ve done data mining & buyin hands for years. I´ve practised what I preach.

One great thing that I was always able to rely on was the laziness of my competition. And no matter how tough games will get, this is one variable that you can also always rely on. People will always be careless. People will always wait.

Case study on flaws in people´s mindset: Bluefirepoker

One funny example I remember was when opened their doors and Phil Gelfand was talking on 2+2 about a signup fee that might get waived half a year later. It’s ridiculous. A guy who has made over 6 Million the year before offers public coaching and people are honestly thinking about not signing up because there could be a $100 signup fee. ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS ??? I mean, really, how shortsighted can one be?! In danger that you think I´m a prick, but I honestly believe this is one of the reasons why some people will “not make it”.

No, it’s not like you have to buy $3500 in coaching programs. It’s not about that. You don´t even need to join any training site. You can do fine without them too. It’s the mindset behind “omg I´m not paying $100”, although the product is worth a thousand times more.

Poker is all about the information, and having the info half a year later is almost as appealing as buying meat that’s half a year old in the supermarket for half price.

Whether or not you think it’s worth buyin is a different story. But the fact that many posters didn’t even think that it could increase their edge was pretty telling.

Stuff like that makes me emotional in a way that I simply can´t understand how ignorant some people can be. Shouldn’t even care, and when not in a mentor-like position like right now, I also didn´t care.  I was glad and wished they put up a $500 signup fee, just to make sure I´m one of the only ones who will buy the product. Anyways, let’s end the rant. Guess my message got across ;).

Anyways, lets get the quick fix out there:

Step 1)

Get yourself a tracking program (I advise holdem manager, but if you prefer something else, I´m not stopping you).

Step 2)

Buy datamined hands. I´d advise you to buy at (by clicking on the banner, you will automatically get forwarded to the site. You´ll also receive an extra discount there – old price will be crossed out). Prices are insanely cheap (as I am writing). I used to pay triple the price for a quarter of the hands. I don´t know what PTR´s policy on sharing DBs is, but if it’s allowed, share them with friends. Think twice though about sharing them with regs who wouldn´t buy them on their own.

Step 3)

Import the hands, possibly buy a tool like table scanner or spadeye (

Step 4)

Pick the right tables. If you have software to table select for you, use that. Otherwise just try out and leave if you don´t like the table.

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