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Thread: How does playing against a computer compare with beginners free tables ?

  1. #1
    johnnieTwoHeads is offline Junior Member
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    Apr 2014

    Cool How does playing against a computer compare with beginners free tables ?

    I’m as green as they come so have been playing against an online freebie called ‘AGAME.’

    It’s a five handed knockout affair and I spend a lot of time looking at poor cards, watching the stakes rise and my stack disappear.

    Do these computer generated games help you learn or would I be better playing with free chips against real people ?

    Any thoughts welcome.

  2. #2
    Tim's Avatar
    Tim is offline quintessential chopbuster
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    Feb 2009


    Hi Johnnie,

    I have never heard of ‘AGAME’ but I can imagine how it works. I would say it’s fine for about 5 minutes whilst you learn the basic mechanics of the game, but beyond that there isn’t much point. Why play against a computer when you can play against real players?

    I would recommend getting started with one (or more) of the following sites:

    Poker Stars
    888 Poker (£12 free for UK players)
    Titan Poker

    You’ll find a lot of action on the play money tables at these sites. Then when you’re ready I’d advise making the step up to real money. You’ll learn more when money is at stake and it doesn’t have to be much, as there are games for all budgets.

  3. #3
    J_Verschueren's Avatar
    J_Verschueren is offline They call me "J"
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    Aug 2011
    Antwerp, Belgium


    Quote Originally Posted by Tim View Post
    I have never heard of ‘AGAME’ but I can imagine how it works.
    ‘AGAME’ is one of those portal sites for flash games, not just poker. Depends on which game Johnnie is actually playing, of course, but I’ve tried a lot of them and I’d have to say "Governor of Poker" actually does a passable impression of unskilled, low stakes opponents. Best AI I’ve seen in a poker game; quite hard to read, actually. Their only flaws are playing too loose and overplaying hands, but otherwise I’d say they’re tougher nuts to crack than most recreational players (who often have glaring betting/sizing tells).

    I do agree he should make the switch to playmoney or microstakes at an actual pokersite, because the software is much better(*) and he will meet a more varied range of opponents.

    (*)Rem.: how pokergames continually have awkward interfaces when they could just copy a good interface off a pokerclient is beyond me.

  4. #4
    bambini's Avatar
    bambini is offline Senior Member
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    Feb 2012

    Default How does playing against a computer compare with beginners free tables ?

    I agree with the guys. AI games just can’t quite match the unpredictability of real players. Once you work out the AI’s ‘rules’ it’s easy to win (although there are some which allegedly come close: see here –…agewanted=all&).

    Play money games on websites will give you a much more diverse and realistic experience and will help you develop your game. Worked for me! Having said that, be aware that because it’s play money, people play much looser than they otherwise would. It’s not uncommon to get guys who shove every hand or see every hand to the river simply because there’s nothing at stake. In they respect okay money games are perhaps not quite as ‘realistic’ as real money games.
    "Never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city" – Coach Finstock, Teen Wolf

  5. #5
    J_Verschueren's Avatar
    J_Verschueren is offline They call me "J"
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    Aug 2011
    Antwerp, Belgium


    Quote Originally Posted by hagaic View Post
    IMO there is one big advantage for beginners to start playing with AI: You can think as long as you like about your play (no "time to act").
    So, for example if I’m trying a specific starting hand selection strategy, I can take my time on my turn, look at the charts etc. and then decide.
    Another nice advantage is that all other players play real fast , so if I fold a starting hand I don’t have to wait 5 minutes for the next hand.
    True, but these are consequences of abstracting any endeavour to a training situation. Through my experience I’ve come to loathe starting hand charts. Not that I’m against the principles behind them: a positional disadvantage requires a stronger hand to get involved, but the playability of hands is such a fluid, situationally dependant matter, there is no way to provide a strict guideline except in shorthanded, shallow stack tournament poker situations where ICM applies (or in very soft games where rote plays might yield a profit, but less profit than identifying mistakes an exploiting them will in the long run).

  6. #6
    zen2poker is offline Junior Member
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    Oct 2014
    The Dominican Republic


    I have used a site called Advanced Poker Training for almost a year and have found it very helpful. Mike Caro is the founder of it. There are several unique things about it.

    One, is that you can play against varying levels of competition, from very loose, passive games, to games that simulate the very best tight aggressive professionals, either full ring or six max. There are Sit and Go, and multi-table tournaments, which allows you to simulate the tournaments you often play in by choosing the number of players, and how the blinds accelerate, if you want to. There are also Final Table simulators.

    A second thing I really like, and probably find the most helpful, is that you can choose from professional players, with varying styles of play, to "advice" you on your play, as you are playing, at any point in the hand. They are programmed to bluff, and semi-bluff in situations and frequency that the particular professional does.

    You can play from one position, or even play one hand, from a particular position, or all positions. You can only play "playable hands" (which includes a wide range of possible playable hands) if you want to further maximize your time, or just fast fold the hands you don’t want to play, in order to maximize your time usage.

    When you have finished a session, you are given a matrix of evaluation, which is adjusted for "luck," either good or bad. It gives you a Poker IQ rating for your play, and also a list of hands in the session where your play may have been "iffy" so that you can replay these hands, and see the play you made they consider perhaps questionable. It has basic information about the common and most important stats, VPIP, AF, C-Bets, how you do in the blinds and attacking the blinds, etc etc. You can save any or all of your sessions, and then search and review whatever you want to.

    In addition, they have "beat the pro" sessions, normally about 50 hands, devoted to particular situations, such as, for example, pocket JJs, or suited connectors, or AQ, AK, etc etc etc. The pro does a video describing his approach to playing these situations, which are very interesting and informative. Then you play the same 50 hands that he (or she) plays, and compare how well you did to how well the pro played these hands, and compared to the other users of the site. They just started a Sunday afternoon tournament, but I have not participated in that.

    The disadvantage of any AI program is that it cannot handle well the real time dynamics of play. Game flow, table dynamics, your image, and the specialized information you may have on a specific opponent from programs like PokerTracker.

    However, free poker as an alternative to a program like Advanced Poker Training, is, at least in my opinion, almost worthless. For example, I went into PokerStars today and played NL Zoom, $5-$10 for 400 hands, and "won" $20,000, which is not at all uncommon for me to do. But to do it, I have to play a completely different style than would be a winning style in a real money game.

    In observing small stakes real money games at PokerStars, for as little as $ .50 $1.00, the actual play is much more like the tight aggressive style of the pros’ AI at Advanced Poker Training. There are 7 levels, and I have a tough time breaking even against the opponents at levels 5-7. I simply cannot consistently win at level 7, despite the fact that they are often predictable, for example in the case of C Bets, or semi-bluffing. It illustrates the soundness of those plays. Occasionally, a very tight aggressive pro takes me down with J2s, a hand I would never expect them to play, or bluffs me on the river (except on level 7 you can peek at opponents cards if you choose to).

    I am currently devoting most of my time, and have been for the last year, to learning Hold ‘Em. Reading the most credible books, thinking about poker, and testing my often half-baked notions, as well as advised play I question, against AI.

    I have just ordered another AI program, because I am especially interested in six max, and in Limit Poker, both full ring and six max. As well as in adjusting for 5, 4, 3, 2, and heads up. This program will allow me to do that, where APT does not have limit AI, nor less than six max, and doesn’t seem as good for six max as full ring.

    I live in the Dominican Republic, but do not have residency. I’m working on my DR residency so I can legally play real money games on PokerStars and other sites. Until then, however, I don’t think I’m going to waste much more time playing free poker. It’s more social, and more interesting, but it’s not advancing my poker skills for live real money poker, at least that I can see. The "super loose" passive games just don’t seem to be out there, at least to the degree authors seem to indicate they were several years ago. I think poker education is much more advanced, even for casual players. Tight aggressive is the norm, except for free poker.

    At least that’s my experience, and it is admittedly for now limited to observation of real money games. I think if you realize the limitations of AI training, and don’t expect it to accomplish all you want to accomplish, it can certainly be valuable, and I, at least, see almost no value in playing free poker. The only reason I even started was to learn how to use PokerTracker, how to use the site software, and observe live real money games, in anticipation of participating later.

    In short, I think there’s a real value to at some of the better AI programs for training, despite their limitations, and the educational payoff is far higher than playing free poker.
    Last edited by zen2poker; Dec 12th, 2014 at 04:35 AM.


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