Imagine if you could walk into a casino poker room, look at each opponent at the table, and know their exact situational tendencies. If you knew what they would do, when they would do it and how often they would do it, you would have a tremendous advantage.
Although players typically can’t do that in a brick-and-mortar poker room, they often do it in online poker
games. Online poker data mining has become as large a growth industry as the games themselves, and has allowed players to take in millions of dollars from their unsuspecting prey
. What is Data Mining?
Data mining involves extracting hidden patterns from available data. The process works in a similar fashion to how Amazon.com recommends similar books based on selections made by customers who have previously purchased a particular book. The site “mines” the data from previous purchases to make recommendations.How does Data Mining apply to online poker?
Just as Amazon mines its customer data to make recommendations, several software packages can mine data from online poker sites to extract a player’s statistical tendencies. A player that could use these tools to extract the hidden patterns from his own play and learn how to plug the leaks in his own game would make himself a dominant force at the table. If the player could do the same to an opponent’s tendencies, it could earn him the ability to predict an adversary’s moves.
For instance, if you knew that your opponent would fold to a check-raise on the flop 92 percent of the time, you could check-raise them on the flop all day long, regardless of your own hand. The targeted use of these statistics can lead to what could appear to be an anticipation of an opponents’ moves bordering on clairvoyance. What can Data Mining software show?
With so many different packages, data mining software can show everything from detailed statistical analysis to brief scouting reports on individual players. Some packages can show reports on current live tournaments and cash games. Players often use these reports, especially the ones on cash games, to hunt for “fish” at the tables and avoid tougher opponents. Other programs include heads-up-displays (HUD) that show a player’s stats on the virtual table itself, negating the need to flip between windows.Is Data Mining cheating?
Data mining in online poker is similar to card-counting in blackjack: it doesn’t break the rules, it only allows players to use additional information to make more educated decisions. However, most online poker sites frown on the use of data mining packages. PokerStars has banned the use of SharkScope and other data mining software for use at their gamesHow can I stop players from Data Mining against me?
While you can’t delete all the hand history data available on your hands, you can make that data less useful to your opponents. Pros call it “changing gears”. If your data shows that you’re too tight and folding too much, loosen your starting hand selections and play back at your opponents more. If you’ve raised too often, slow down and check-call on marginal hands. Regardless of your style, the most effective way to neutralize an opponent using data mining tactics on you is to make their assumptions worthless.