What Other Players Know About You
Most online players think about tells they may be giving off at the table. They consider very carefully anything they say in chat and are either the type of player that only shows bluffs or the type that tries to only be caught with solid hands.
What many players, both online and in land based casinos, don’t realise is that there’s a ton of information about them and their game readily available to anyone who’s interested.
Have you ever just googled your PokerStars username and the word poker together? Or your name and the city that you live in? Even if you haven’t been playing online that long you’ll find a ton of information about yourself, and your poker game, available.
This is what I do if I’m playing only one table at a time and I’m getting bored, I Google my opponents. I look at everything. First I check out their poker player stats, their Facebook Pages, their old MySpace page, the forums they belong to, everything. There are a few other sites that I look them up on as well, one’s called Shark Scope another is PTR.
In fact, if I find myself up against a grinder, which I just realized because I found a ton of results and he whines about a bad beat I’ll tell him to go whine about it on 2+2. Usually the response is ‘touché’ or ‘lol’ or something similar. But the unspoken conversation is… “I know who you are and I’m just as serious, or more.”
There are some tools available as well for those that want to have some idea who they’re up against. When I near the money in a multi-table tournament, for instance, I open up Shark Scope and start learning all that I can about my opponent.
Players are Tracking you Right Now on Shark Scope
Shark Scope is one of several online services that track online poker players. Shark Scope is focused on tournaments and sit n go’s, not on cash game players. You’re being tracked there too, just not by Shark Scope, keep reading, we’ll get into that.
Shark Scope is fun to play with when you first find it. Most people start their tour by quickly using one of their free daily searches to check out their own stats. This is where I first learnt that I had some work to do if I was to become a serious poker player.
It should be taken into consideration however that using shark scope at some poker sites during a game is against their terms of service. So, as you might imagine, if you’re surfing shark scope while you’re playing poker on a site with this rule you might just find yourself banned, suspended or you could get a very serious warning letter from the poker sites staff.
The tool is available for use for free; however, players that subscribe get more searches and more data. Shark Scope doesn’t tell you what cards a player might call with or whether they’re a nit, grinder, or maniac, it just tells you if they’re winning or losing players. How often they cash, when and for how much.
PokerStars users are automatically opted out at Shark Scope, that means that there is very little information about players at PokerStars available unless they’ve visited SharkScope and opted in. If they’ve actually visited the site and opted out then there will be no information at all available about their play on that site.
If you want to opt out of Sharkscope then go to their website and click options (top right hand corner) and select “opt out”.
Table Ratings Tracks Every Hand of Poker You Play
If you thought the above was creepy or useful, depending on your perspective, let me introduce you to Poker Table Ratings, an online tool that literally tracks almost every single hand of online poker. That’s great if you’re using the site to your advantage however, if you’re not and your opponents are, it’s probably costing you money. However, just because they’re tracking, doesn’t mean they’re reporting. PokerStars has blocked Poker Ratings from sharing information about the hands you play there with the general public. During the writing of this article I searched my username at 888 Poker and I didn’t come up, which is odd as I play there a lot, which makes you wonder how accurate the data is.
As for removing yourself, once you’re in the database at PTR, you’re pretty much stuck there. The only option is to not play at the sites allowing PTR and choose a site like Pokerstars which actively protects their players data.
Track Your Game Before Your Opponent Does
The best way for a poker player to keep an eye on what other players are finding out about them online is to track that information themselves. Identify the same leaks that your opponents are finding about online and plug them. There are a few services online that will do just that, Poker Tracker is one of the more popular websites for tracking and analysing your poker play.
Another comparable option is Holdem Manager. For the most part, the main differences between these two pieces of software affect the user’s preference. Poker Tracker for instance covers stud games, whereas Holdem Manager does not. They are also pretty different aesthetically, here’s a few more that may be right for you – Poker Crusher, Texas Calculatem, Sit & Go Shark, CalculatemPro and Poker Office.
There are literally hundreds of websites available online that track live poker play as well as online poker play and it’s simply not possible to get your name and poker play information off of all of them. What you can do however, is make sure you’re aware that it’s out there and make sure that you’re benefitting from the existence of all of this information just as much as your opponents are.
Here’s a quick list for when you want to start investigating your online profile:-
If you’re seriously concerned about your lack of privacy in the poker world you can write to the sites you play at and ask them directly what they are doing to protect your privacy. You could lobby your favourite poker site to set up anonymous tables or allow you to regularly change your username, both of these options would allow you to play as if you just sat down at the table for the first time with strangers who have no idea about how you play.
As a last note, a quick warning to the wise as they say: If a note on a poker site says that a player is loose, or isn’t a winning player, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not currently holding pocket aces, everybody gets dealt aces now and then. Additionally, even donks can improve (in fact most players do improve over time and learn to beat the game of poker) so, all information is subject to interpretation.