In my last post, I talked a bit about defining "success" for the beginner player differently than for the more experienced player.  No matter how you define success, however, you need tools to track your progress so you know how you are doing, where you are improving, and what aspects of your game need work.  In an older post, I talked a bit about tracking tournament results on a very macro level, but that sort of tracking only goes so far.  Eventually, every player needs to start looking at their hand play to see where they can improve their returns.

In order to continue my improvement through 2012, I've invested in a better tracking system.  My last post on tracking generated some good comments and suggestions for commercial packages, but after spending some time demoing and playing with various solutions, I decided to go with Poker Office.  While all the products I looked at had advantages and disadvantages, Poker Office was the one that had the best mix of features in the best interface, with the easiest set-up. It seemed very intuitive to use right off the bat, and provides a wonderful "all in one" interface for tournament results and hand-to-hand analysis.

Of course, a poker database is only as good as the data in it, so one of the first things I did after I bought the licence was to spend an afternoon downloading hand histories from my previous tournaments, and loading them to Poker Office.  Even before I'd finished loading those histories, a pretty clear tend had emerged ... no matter what tournament I looked at, I was almost always losing the last hand in a REALLY big way.  So my first lesson from Poker Office was simple ... I gotta start playing those last hands better.

All joking aside, a few interesting notes did emerge almost immediately when I loaded my old data.  One of the most surprising things emerged when I looked at profit levels from specific starting hands.  Two of my biggest losers were hands I'd typically expect to be "winners" ... QQ and QJs.

Another interesting thing I noticed very quickly after starting to use Poker Office was that I apparently had no clue what my starting hand strength was.  That's a bit over-stated, but there were some very clear hands that I either over-valued or under-valued based on the "rank" assigned by Office.  One good example of that was that I was consistently over-valuing "big looking" hands like KJo, and consistently under-valuing "small looking" hands like 78s.  Simply modifying my play based on those observations seems to have made a noticeable difference in my results.

I must admit, I am still a bit overwhelmed by all the information I have now from Poker Office.  I'm frankly not sure what to do with it all yet, or how much value to place on certain stats or trends.  Also, for the time being at least, my data is only really useful for myself ... I've yet to play enough hands to get significant data on other players, so the value of my stats for other players is pretty low at the moment.

Still, I have to say that the investment in Poker Office has paid dividends right from the start.  I've been able to see how I play a lot more clearly, and I only see that clarity improving as time goes on.

See ya on the felt ...