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Sunday, December 25, 2011

NoteCaddy versus Note Tracker

Earlier this month, PokerTracker 4 went into beta testing. I was particularly interested in the NoteTracker application since it would potentially present NoteCaddy with its first viable competition in the 18 months since NoteCaddy had its original beta release. I finally got a chance to play with PT4 and while the software works well, NoteTracker fails to provide any significant innovation over NoteCaddy.  I have put together a chart that is both comprehensive and objective in its comparison to what each software provides. If anything is incorrect, I will update it as soon as possible once notified.  After the chart, I will give my opinion on why I feel NoteTracker does not present a viable competitor to NoteCaddy.

FeatureNoteCaddyNote Tracker
Additional cost$60-90$0
Note definition customization
Filter notes only versus hero
Default note definitions18035
Embedded tutorial videos150
Filter by session details
Filter by currency
Filter individual notes by hand date
Filter notes based on player types
Spark graphs
Scatter graphs
Replay hands that were used for note creation
Filter based on bet sizing
View net profit per player per note
Custom note colors/font
Add notes to individual stat popups
Show how often a note occurred versus how often the player had the opportunity
Show how a player compares to the general player pool in notes
Filter notes to only show if a player performs in a manner significantly different than average
Cyborg Notes
Automatic color coding of PokerStars and OnGame players
Synchronize automatic and manual notes to/from PokerStars and OnGame
Hero session notes
Take notes on players based on how well SNGWiz® perceives their play
Bystander notes
Implicit strength/weakness
Display notes in the HUD as custom stats
Display full note text in the HUD
Show notes only based on the current game type, player count, average stack size
Customize note categories
Customize the order notes/categories are displayed in
Customize variable output

Overall, NoteTracker is a clone of NoteCaddy when it was first released. At that time period, the consensus was that NoteCaddy had potential but did not live up to it due to the fact that multi tablers were not able to quickly absorb relevant information about their opponents. The last year has been spent adding new features to solve these problems. One example is how notes related to "flop continuation bets" are shown when a user hovers over any stat that relates to the same. So if I hover over the "fold to cbet" stat, I will see notes that describe how a player plays hands that saw a continuation bet and how his play compares to the whole player pool.  Badges will show me a player's most important notes without me having to hover over anything.  I can also show notes' full text in my hud.  These are things that multi tablers require.  Let's have a look at what NoteTracker produces:

How many tables can I play and still make sense of this wall of text?
At first look, this will probably impress people.  It's not until you actually play and try to apply this information to decisions that you'll realize that this is no more than a novelty.  Also, how do I know some of these hands weren't against fish with 10 big blinds at a heads up table?  Wouldn't someone's range change dramatically based on changing circumstances?  Hundreds of hours of work were put into making sure you only get relevant information using NoteCaddy.  Here is the "limp and called a raise" note from NoteCaddy.

The first thing we should notice is that the range is, in some places, different.  For example, NoteTracker says this player limp/called QQ.  I searched in the database for such a hand:

There is no such hand.  The player did limp QQ a few times but when faced with a raise, he reraised.  This is a limp/raise not a limp call.  That seems kind of misleading to me.  The next thing we might notice is that in the NoteCaddy note we see +86.9bb.  That means the player actually won money limping.  This alone isn't likely going to change a whole lot but at least we can see the different types of scenarios where people bleed money or where they do well.  Next is the replay button.  In NoteCaddy, we can open up a replayer with all of the hands that generated a note.  It might not be that useful if someone has thousands of hands but if someone just sat down and did something weird it is nice to be able to re-watch that hand with the click of a button.  Finally, we have the spark graph that shows us the distribution of hands that this player limps with.  You can see it is mostly pretty strong hands but not ultra premiums like AA, KK, and QQ!  You can understand this by seeing how the graph flat-lines at the far right.  Now if you look and see the dotted blue line you will see what the average strength of a limp is in your database.  The orange line is to the right of the blue line confirming that this player has a strong limping range.

I pulled up this note by hovering over the player's limp stat.  I am not interested in what he overbets the river with when he just limped pre flop!

It must be said that PT4 just went into beta and there's plenty of time for them to improve NoteTracker.  However, for now, HM2+NoteCaddy users can feel comfortable knowing that they have far superior intel on their PT4 opponents than vice versa.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

NoteCaddy badges in detail

As mentioned in this post NoteCaddy 2.2, NoteCaddy now has a feature called badges.  The idea is to display notes in your HUD without having to view any popups.  Since space in the HUD is very limited, showing an image that represents a player's tendency is a more effective way to get this done.  12 new definitions have been added to the definition digest

  1. Calls Double Barrel Weak This definition will create a badge for players who call raises pre flop, flop continuation bets, and turn 2 barrel bets (in the same hand), with a range that is significantly weaker than the player pool's average
  2. Calls Steals With Wide Range This definition will create a badge for players who call steal attempts (an open raise by the cutoff or button player) from the small blind or big blind with a range that is significantly wider than average.
  3. Checks Strong Hands in Three Bet Pots This definition will create a badge for players who check the flop with a significantly stronger range than average in 3 bet pots.  Whether or not the player performed the 3 bet or called the 3 bet is immaterial for this definition
  4. Donk Bets Flop Weak This definition will create a badge for players who call raises pre flop and then bet out of position on the flop (donk bet) with a range that is significantly weaker than average
  5. Folds To Cbet On Ace High Often This definition will create a badge for players who fold to continuation bets on ace high flops significantly more often than average 
  6. Folds To Cbet On Wet Boards Often This definition will create a badge for players who fold to continuation bets on weat flops (boards where a straight and/or flush is likely to become possible or already possible) significantly more often than average 
  7. Half Pot River Is Nuts This definition will create a badge for players who bet around half the pot with very strong hands on the river
  8. Passive Play Means Strong This definition will create a badge for players who play passively (abstaining from betting or raising) until the river with a hand range that is significantly stronger than average.  This is also referred to as slow playing.
  9. Profitable In 3 Bet Pots This definition will create a badge for players who earn significantly more profitable than average in 3 bet pots.  Whether they made the 3 bet or called someone else's is immaterial for this definition
  10. Steals Heros Blind This definition will create a badge for players who attempt to steal the hero's (your) blinds significantly more often than the player pool's average
  11. Three Bets Hero Often This definition will create a badge for players who 3 bet the hero (you) significantly more often than the player pool's average
  12. Two Barrels Weak This definition will create a badge for players who fire a second barrel with hands that are significantly weaker than average
These definitions are constructed using the new "advanced" tab.  If you are interested in making your own, here is a step by step tutorial for creating a badge for players who 3 bet 30% more often than average.

On the General tab, I've set the following values:
Name This can be anything but more descriptive is always better
Description you can see I used the variable $successversusaverage.  This will show a value like +5% or +80% to show how much more often than average this player 3 bets.  This variable can be used for any definition as long as you do not have "do not take notes for missed opportunities" selected.  Of course this value can also be negative if someone 3 bets less than average.  I also used the variable $cardrange which will help us keep track of the range that this player showed down after 3 betting.  This isn't required but is a good thing to know.
Define opportunities by action Setting this will create an x/y stat where x = the number of times three bet and y = the number of times this play faced an open raise and therefore could three bet.  Always use this option when you are making a definition that shows quantitative data
Badge Here we can pick any of the existing icons or choose our own via the option at the bottom.  If you want to pick your own make sure it's no bigger than 16x16 and has a transparent background (preferably PNG format but gif works also)

The next tab is Pre flop->actions.

Here we will simply set all of the different 3 bet sizes as possible actions.  Since we don't care about the actual raise sizing, this will cover every possibility.

In the Advanced tab, we only need to set two values.
Difference in instance/opportunity as a percent.  I set the minimum to 30 which means it has to be 30% higher than the player pool's average.  Leaving the maximum as 0 means it will be ignored so it can be any number greater than 30.  Keep in mind that if the player pool 3 bets 5% on average and this player does so 15%, the number is 200.  This is percentage, not percentile points.  Please see for more details.

Minimum Instances If someone just sat down and 3 bet 100% of the time, that is not necessarily indicative of a player deserving a badge.  As such I have set the value to 5 meaning this player needed to have 3 bet 5 times at a minimum for this definition to be considered.  You could set this even higher potentially.  One thing to consider is that if you're requiring a showdown to have occurred, you could set this value lower as showdowns say much more than just stats.

Friday, November 25, 2011

NoteCaddy 2.2 - Consequences will never be the same

NoteCaddy 2.2 is not available for HM2 release  It will be in the next build

It is without a doubt that NoteCaddy 2.2 is the most significant update in the last 11 months.  The changes are vast but, in short, what makes it so different is the fact that we no longer need to hover the mouse over the note icon and/or stats to see important data.  If you play few tables, then this may not seem like such a benefit but I urge you to read on and see that you're wrong :)

I will start with the items that benefit both the standalone version as well as the HM-App as they go deeper into the core.

Manual PreFlop Reraises

One shortcoming that had been pointed out in NoteCaddy was the inability to filter based on 4/5/6 bet sizes.  Even 3 bets could only be filtered for three raise sizes and that just wasn't enough.

Now the manual open raise that we all grew to love has a brother.  It is the manual reraise.  With the use of previous pre flop actions, we can easily model any size 3+ bet.  The numbers in the min and max are ratios for the raise size over the previous raise.  So if we make this for a four bet and we want to do something like a 2.5-3x 4 bet, we would just enter those numbers.  A 3 bet to 10, followed by a four bet of 25-30 would qualify based on that scenario.

Omaha Straight Out Filtering

The often neglected Omaha version of NoteCaddy also got a small upgrade

Now, rather than using the general draw classifications from NoteCaddy, we can filter based on straight outs. If you know about Omaha, you'll know about the different types of wraps etc.  You can find these new filters at the bottom of the flop/turn/river range screens.  This long overdue update will allow you to take more accurate Omaha notes!

Ok let's get to the good stuff!  It is only thanks to the collaboration with Holdem Manager that these features could be introduced and consequently they aren't found in the standalone version.

CaddyScatter Graph

If you're not familiar with the CaddySpark graph, you should read up on it here:

The thing about the CaddySpark graph is that it generally ignores bet and raise sizing.  Certainly you can make a definition for each bet size and see an individual spark graph, but this is very cumbersome and you'll end up with tons of notes.  The CaddyScatter graph is an interactive experience that will tell you many things about your opponent, provided you can figure out how to read it!

Before we can use CaddyScatter, it must be configured via the NoteCaddy settings.

You go to file->settings->CaddyScatter and make sure the box that says "Use CaddyScatter" is checked.  After you do this, unfortunately, you will have to reset and reprocess your notes.  Step one is to click file->reset notes.  Step two is to click "create notes..." on the NoteCaddy start page.  Once that is done, you will have some extra fancy graphs in players' hud popups.  Truthfully, if you have a big enough hand sample on someone, you may not even need notes as your reads will be very sharp with just this!

Now let's have our first look at a graph.  It won't make any sense but don't worry because with some explanation it gets easier (I think).

So what we see there is a mess of colors.  This graph is for a player with around 350 hands in our HUD.  If you look back at the configuration screen, you can see that the different colors represent actions on different streets.  Therefore if you are facing a river overbet or a small 3 bet pre flop, you should consult this and hopefully quickly get some data there.  You filter by clicking the buttons on the right for street and at the bottom you can filter between bets and raises.  Clicking the "x" on the bottom right will reset everything back to default.  Let's have a look at this graph filtered for just the flop.

The light red dots are open raises and the dark one is a 3 bet.  If this guy 3 bets you big lookout!  The farther to the right a dot is, the bigger the bet.  The higher up it is, the stronger the bet.  The dotted line represents a pot bet.  Note that the pot bet will not always be in the middle.  Everything is drawn to scale based on what we have seen from a player.  As far as open raises, we don't get much here as this player seems to keep it standard at around 80% PSB which is relatively small.  Nonetheless, we get some idea about the fact that he is not a rock (all the dots would be at the top) and not a maniac (there would be some dots on the bottom).  Players with a bigger hand sample can reveal some very interesting things if you know what to look for.

Note Partitioning

By default, NoteCaddy separates notes for heads up, 6 max, and full ring.  So if you have played heads up with someone but are now in a full ring game, you won't see the note that says he 5 bet shoved 73o.  For cash games this is ok, but tournament and SNG players would know that this is just not good enough.  In NoteCaddy 2.2, you can actually customize the partitioning so it suits your tournament play more accurately.

As you can see in the image, I have elected to show someone's notes for heads up if we are heads up, and the same goes for 2, 3, and 4 players since each of the game sizes leads to completely different games.  The same type of partition is done here for stack sizes.  The values I put may seem arbitrary since I am a fish at tournaments but if you know what you're doing, this will probably help you.


This feature could be a lot of fun.  Think auto rate, but based on much deeper criteria and with the ability to have as many as you want on your HUD.  Here is what it looks like when a player has badges.
You can see on the bottom row, we have a police hat and a TNT barrel.  Typical of NoteCaddy, these things can mean anything you want them to mean.  In this case, the police hat means that this guy calls steal attempts with a range that is 25% weaker than average.  Of course the average is based on the hands in your database so it doesn't matter if you play NL2 or NL40000, these values will be relevant to your data, not a black box.

If you forgot what a badge means, it's easy to see exactly why it's there just by hovering your mouse over it:

 To add these to your HUD is pretty simple.

The section pictured above is the "Displayed Stats" section of the HUD configuration.  You can see the "OrderedNoteAsText" option under NoteCaddy.  If you look to the left, you will see it 3 times.  This is because I am allowing up to 3 badges to appear in my HUD.  You can put as many as you want though.

Converting a definition to a badge is also pretty simple, we just open the definition in the editor:

and then in the general tab, we pick a badge.  There are 15 default icons that can be used for badges but you can feel free to add your own.  Just expand the drop down and on the bottom there is a "file..." option.  As of this writing there are no default definitions that render as badges but there will be in the coming days.

On that topic, the default badge definitions will aim to show how players stand out from the masses in your player pool.  Another feature that is new with NoteCaddy 2.2 is the ability to filter for some insanely specific ways that players are different.  The new "advanced" tab will help you with that.

Some of these options were in the general tab before but now it is more organized.  We can filter for simple things like how often someone has to have received this note as well as very complicated things like the comparison of the success rate of this note versus a basic HUD stat.  One of the new definitions will show how often someone 3 bets versus hero compared to how they 3 bet the average player.  Does someone have a grudge against you?  You will see it instantly in your HUD.  Using these new filters, your imagination will be bent to the breaking point trying to think of all the insanely deep data you can have on a player.

Keep in mind that many of these new filters have corresponding variables so you can print as part of your notes how far someone deviates from average success, strength, etc.

What about those other HUD options I saw???

You have great vision if you saw those but if you didn't, here they are again:

So here we have two options:

OrderedNoteAsText: NoteCaddy sorts notes based on customizable criteria.  By default you can set a note's priority to be high and then after that it goes by how much it deviates from the average and finally alphabetical order.  This is set in file->settings->note settings by the way.  So the idea here is if you want to have 2-3 of the most "relevant" notes show up directly in your HUD, you choose this option.  Now you may be thinking, "I don't want to leave it to chance, I know exactly which notes I want showing up in my HUD and want to configure it as such!"  Ok fair enough; you can do this too.

Just set the abbreviation of any NC. stat as * and the full note will be displayed directly in the HUD.  This will work even if you have your HUD set not to show abbreviations.

LastNoteAdded: You are undoubtedly very familiar with the Caddy Report if you know NoteCaddy.  This little window shows you all the new notes as they get added and the new hands as they finish.  But what if you're 72 tabling, do you really have time to look over there and see who just did what?  Of course not.  Now thanks to the power of NoteCaddy 2.2, you can display the last note someone got directly on the HUD as well.  Just move the NC.LastNoteAdded "stat" (I use that term very loosely in this case) over to your HUD and it will show up in bright red!

The one thing that needs to be said about both NC.LastNoteAdded and NC.OrderedNoteAsText is that each item will occupy an entire line.  There is no need to add a line break after it and in fact doing so is not a good idea as you'll end up with empty lines.  The same obviously goes for the * trick.  Also, if you're writing long notes, you may find that they occupy a lot of space.  Unfortunately, the notes won't wrap so you should use the "overhang" option in the HUD config properties page intelligently.  Also, consider using panels etc.