Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Shamus Plug -- Texas Calculatem Poker Odds Calculator

Texas CalculatemEvery now and then I’ll get asked to review poker software and perhaps write about it here on Hard-Boiled Poker. For example, just this week I was contacted by the folks over at Poker Academy with such a request. Haven’t had the chance to check their program out as yet, but after following that “First Man-Machine Poker Championship” last July I’m quite interested to look into what they’ve sent me. Might try to load that sucker later tonight.

You may recall how the University of Alberta Computer Poker Research Group developed a program -- or, really, a series of programs -- called Polaris, which they pitted against Phil Laak and Ali Eslami in a series of duplicate poker matches last summer. My understanding is that the Poker Academy software uses the CPRG’s research, thus creating what is apparently a pretty powerful training program. Once I get it up and running and learn about the ins & outs, I’ll try to write something about it here.

Meanwhile, a couple of months ago I was sent another, more modest program to review, something called Texas Calculatem. I tried it out and found some of the features interesting, though decided ultimately I probably wasn’t going to be using it when I play. To be frank, I have gotten to the point where I don’t even like to run PokerTracker/PokerAce HUD when I’m playing, simply because I feel I remain better engaged with what’s happening at the table without the added distraction. (Still, I know a lot of folks do get a lot out of seeing those insta-stats when playing.)

Texas Calculatem is primarily a poker odds calculator. I could be wrong, but I believe it is mostly intended to be used in fixed limit HE. When you are dealt a hand, you are told immediately how it ranks relative to other starting hands. For example, when I was dealt QJ-offsuit, I learned its hand rank was 87.8%; when I was dealt 72-offsuit, I learned its hand rank was 0.7%; and so forth. If the hand appears in one of Sklansky’s hand groupings, you get a little note up top telling you which. So for my QJ-offsuit hand, the program told me I had a “Sklansky 5” hand.

After the flop (and thereafter), you get indications of how many outs you might have, what the odds are you’ll draw one of those outs, and a suggestion regarding how to proceed (“Check or Fold,” “Check or Call One Small Bet,” etc.). Yr basic poker odds, then, though it does not calculate pot odds. If you want a pot odds calculator, you have to get another program, called CalculatemPro.

Like I say, not really something I’m going to be using very much. I am recalling, however, when I first started playing online how I would prop these little notecards with Sklansky hand groupings & odds/outs next to the screen. I suppose a program like Texas Calculatem fulfills that function, in a way, and maybe even helps tutor the novice a bit in how to recognize hand strengths.

A few different things planned this week, including some more about Absolute/Kahnawake, a poker movie review, and perhaps something about the 2008 National Heads-Up Poker Championship on NBC (coming up at the end of Feb.). Hell, I might even have to tell you all about a Razz hand I played (in H.O.R.S.E.).

For now, though, I’m gonna go watch some football. See ya tomorrow.

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