When you play live games, your brain and experience are the only tool you have at your disposal to make your decisions. The internet scenario is quite different, since poker rooms deliberately allow programs to mine data in order to aid players in making their decisions. Not all software of this kind is legal. Rules vary from poker room to poker room, but in general, programs that will tell you what decisions you should make ("here you should fold", "here you should push") are illegal. Programs such as Poker Tracker, Hold'em Manager, FPDB and PokerMuck instead provide useful statistics that if well interpreted by the player, can be of vital help. But none of them will tell you what decision to make. The programs in this category are perfectly legal.

Given this introduction, let's see why everyone that plays poker should use the aid of a statistical tool.

1. Fairness

If you believe in a fair game (like Poker should be), you want to have the same "weapons" that the other players do. And given that it is known that many people use these programs to gain an advantage, you don't want to be left behind. I release PokerMuck as open source because I disliked the fact that there weren't enough alternatives to the commercial tools. When I play poker I'd like it to be a fair game. In most poker rooms the hands that are mucked at showdown are not really mucked. By browsing the hand history you can still peek at what your opponents were holding (yes, even if they mucked). If somebody can see the hands that I muck, I want to be able to see theirs. If somebody can see that I've limped only 15% of the hands, raised only 4% and made continuation bets only 20% of the times I've seen a flop, I want to be able to see their numbers too. Then whoever plays better should win. But not with unfair advantage.

2. Our brain is too limited to handle all of this information at once

Live games are slow paced. You don't get to see as many hands as in online games, so you can get a better feeling of how people play. In addition, there might be physical tells that you could pick up. In internet play you might play against several dozens of people in a matter of minutes, no physical tells to help you and everything happening so quickly that it's very difficult to analyze even two or three opponents. It gets worse when you start multi tabling. A HUD allows you to quickly see how a person is playing, just by glancing at a few numbers.

3. To improve your strategy

Where real time hand recognition is supported, PokerMuck displays common odds information about your current hand. If you think about calling or folding to a bet, first check if you are getting the right price to pay. Also, at the end of a game you can always look back at your statistics and see how you performed. Were you too tight? Too loose?

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