Online poker has been around for over a decade now and continues to grow in popularity amongst many different types of people. Whether you are playing recreationally or professionally, there are plenty of tools and software available to help you improve your game. In this PokerSnowie review we are going to be taking a look at one of the latest pieces of educational poker software to hit the market.
You may have heard recently about Google’s AlphaGo software beating the grandmaster of the Asian board game “Go”. The software was designed to be able to play the game as a human would using a science known as machine learning. The team behind PokerSnowie started out by building a backgammon program that uses the same technology as AlphaGo, called artificial neural networking, which teaches itself to play as good as or even better than human players. The program acts like a human brain and has gradually taught itself the optimal backgammon strategy by repeatedly playing against itself and evaluating every move in the game.
After achieving great success with BackgammonSnowie, the team wanted to apply the same model to No Limit Hold’em Poker and develop a non-exploitive coaching tool. After analysing millions of poker hands and going through extensive training, PokerSnowie was born. It is updated periodically with new intelligence and experiences to make the software more accurate and consistent as time goes on. At the time of writing, the software knows how to play No Limit poker in various formats – Heads Up to Full Ring and Short Stacks to Deep Stacks. It even knows how and when to bluff!
Many people are surprised that computers can learn something ‘psychological’ like a bluff. In fact, this is one of the first things PokerSnowie learned. If a bluff is often successful in certain situations, bluffing is reinforced and PokerSnowie bluffs more often.
– PokerSnowie Team
There are three annual plans available to suit various types of players; Starter, Intermediate and Pro. Note: The software currently only works on Windows OS.
The software features vary with each plan and are detailed below:
|Starter – $34.99 annually||Intermediate – $99.00 annually||Pro – $229.95 annually|
|Challenge Pokersnowie with live advice||Challenge Pokersnowie with live advice||Challenge Pokersnowie with live advice|
|Hand browsing||Hand browsing||Hand browsing|
|Error rate, game balance and statistics||Error rate, game balance and statistics||Error rate, game balance and statistics|
|500 real money hand upload and analysis/month||8,000 real money hand upload and analysis/month||120,000 real money hand upload and analysis/month|
|100 scenario evaluations/month||1,200 scenario evaluations/month||3,000 scenario evaluations/month|
|Preflop advice||Hand range|
When we loaded up the software, the first thing we did was import some of PokerSnowie’s sample hands. Presently the software can only evaluate cash game hands (no SNG, tournament or play money hands). They also have to be English and there is a list of the supported poker sites on the website. The software is split into four tabs – Statistics, Hands, Challenges and Scenarios.
The “Overview” page gives a summary of the imported hands, including the error rate, profit/loss and amount of blunders. Blunders are costly errors which by default are set at an EV loss of 2 big blinds.
The “Error Details” page shows how many errors you made on each street – Pre Flop/Flop/Turn/River. When clicking on the number of errors you are taken to all of the relevant hands to analyse further.
The “Balance” page is great for identifying which parts of your game you should be working on. It compares the percentage of times you made the same call that PokerSnowie would have, so 100% would be spot on, >100% is too often and <100% is not enough. For betting/raising it splits your bets into weak (betting as a bluff), medium and strong (betting with a strong hand for value). The percentages are highlighted in red where the most errors are being made.
The “Playing Stats” contains basic statistics that you would find on most poker HUDs for example VPIP & PFR percentages and aggression factor.
The “Opponents” page contains the same stats combined for all encountered opponents.
If you’ve ever used software that allows you to replay poker hand histories before, you will be familiar with the type of layout in the “Hands” tab. The PokerSnowie hand viewer is hands down (sorry!) the best that we have come across before.
There are all sorts of ways to filter the imported hands including:
- Errors on a particular street – preflop/flop/turn/river
- Specific hole cards
- Actions such as when raised to or when facing a 3 bet
- Screen names
- Poker rooms
Below each hand there are three tabs – Evaluation, Hand Strength and Analysis Tools
The Evaluation tab shows Snowie’s optimal strategy for each situation. It shows the EV (estimated value) in big blinds for each action (Fold, Check or Bet) and advises the correct bet size. The bet sizes are limited to 0.5 pot, 1 pot and 2 pot. It would good if you were able to change these values to perhaps 1/3 pot or ¾ pot, or whatever you’d prefer, but for now we are stuck with the default values.
The Hand Strength tab shows the Showdown Strength and Betting Strength of the current hand. The Showdown Strength calculates how strong the hand is versus the range of all opponents still in the pot if they went to showdown. The strength is calculated with a score between 0 and 2.0, but it’s simple to see where you stand by looking at visual strength meter. The Betting Strength is similar except it uses the non-folding range of opponents in the pot.
Finally in the Analysis Tools tab you can look into each player’s hand ranges in detail and get preflop advice.
On the challenge tab you can set up a virtual poker game against your chosen amount of Snowie players. You can choose either a Freezeout or a Cash game, the stake level and buy-in amount.
The table will then open and you can play through hands as you would normally (or not if you want to experiment with some alternative plays) and you have the option of seeing Snowie’s live advice on the optimal play for each hand. When you are finished the hands can be imported into the hand viewer for further analysis later on.
It’s a good way of testing how good or bad your decisions are in real-time, although realistically your opponents are rarely going to be pro poker players all of the time.
In the Scenarios section you can build a hand from scratch. You can add the number of players, bet sizes, hole cards/board cards, stack sizes, positions etc. Once you have input your moves you can then evaluate and analyse the hand. It is also possible to use the “Copy scenario” button within the Hand tab to edit the parameters of a hand previously imported.
PokerSnowie is an extremely useful tool for analysing hands in detail and will teach you how to balance your game and increase your equity. The error/blunder feature is a great way to quickly spot leaks in your game so that you can see right away which areas you need to work on.
We cannot see why anyone who is serious about improving their poker skills wouldn’t want a copy of PokerSnowie to hand, it’s like having your own personal poker coach available 24/7 at a fraction of the cost. Highly recommended!