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Online Poker Data Mining -- The Pro Opinion VI

Dara O'Kearney Discusses Online Poker Data Mining in Part VI of our VIII Part Series on What the Pros Think on this Topical Issue


Following on from Card Player’s recent report about the data mining dilemma facing the online poker industry, we decided to ask a selection of players their thoughts on what has become a very sensitive issue.

Each player was asked if they use online poker tracking tools and if they felt people should be allowed to data mine; is it good or bad for the game, does it change the game at all, and what was their opinion of sites taking action against it? This resulted in a surprisingly mixed reaction which you can read over the coming week.

Dara O'KearneyDara O’Kearney

I use PokerTracker when I’m playing online. However, I don’t download hands or share databases with anyone else. Not because I see anything particularly wrong with it (essentially it’s analogous to asking a friend who has played with a player you have to play against live for the first time for information on his tendencies, which we nearly all do at some point or another) but I just don’t think it’s worth the hassle. I don’t really see a problem with people being allowed to, and in general I think any regulation that is almost impossible to enforce probably isn’t a good idea anyway.

As to whether it’s good or bad for the game, I think it’s good for the good (winning) players, bad for the losing players, and bad for the sites. The inevitable flow of money in the poker economy is from weaker players to stronger players. The weaker players will inevitably lose all the money they can afford to or are prepared to lose, and the beneficiaries are the winning players and the sites. The faster the losing players lose, the more of their money goes to the winning players, and the less that goes to the sites. That’s why I’m somewhat suspicious as to the motives of sites trying to regulate against this and other tools and trends that work to the advantage of the winning players. I wonder whether it’s really to “protect” weaker players, or to maximise their share of the money they will inevitably lose.

It certainly changes the game. Weak players lose money in the long run primarily because they repeatedly make the same mistakes, and the stronger players identify those mistakes and profit from them. Anything which helps a stronger player identify exploitable leaks in other player’s games, be it note taking, software trackers, tracking sites like SharkScope, OfficialPokerRankings, PokerTableRatings, or data mining speeds up the process by which the stronger players start to exploit the weaknesses of the weaker players.

Check out the opinions of Joe Elpayaa, Rory Rees Brennan and Cristiano Blanco, Arnaud Mattern and Brandon Schaefer.