Comparing Software on Difficult Hands — Part II of II

Today we’re continuing last week’s discussion of comparing video poker software.

If you’re planning on playing Quick Quads or Ultimate X, the Pro Training software is the way to go. It’s accurate and gives you correction. I’m someone who highly values getting correction when I’m trying to play a game for real money. Other games that are unique to this software, but I don’t happen to play them, are Build a Wheel Poker, Color Match Poker, Deal Draw Poker, Double Pay Poker (single hand), Extra Action Poker, and Wheel Poker.

There are other games on the Pro Training software that give you correction, but it’s simply a format change rather than a game such as Twenty Five Play or Spin Poker Deluxe, plus others. There are games that do not change the correct play of any hand, but change the expected return of the game, such as Double Super Times Pay and a variety of games featuring Dream Card. Knowing the expected return of these games is valuable information because often that information is elusive.

A third type of experience is with Super Triple Play. This is a six-coins-per-line game where various pay schedule categories are increased when you bet six coins. This changes the strategy. Once you know how the pay schedule is affected, you can enter any of these pay schedules into Video Poker for Winners, but then you have to multiply the expected return by 5/6 because that software is based on five coins rather than six. It’s not a tough workaround, but Pro Training does it for you.

Even on games with no actual changes to the strategy compared to the single line game with the same pay schedule, there’s a “feel” to each game that is different. This is useful information to some.

Once you’ve chosen a game, with every hand you get a chart to the side (either before or after you select the hold — your choice) with the EV of the top several plays. This information is useful, particularly since it is right there. It’s available on other software, but here it is displayed better. One problem is that it always gives you the “max coin” play, no matter how many coins you’re betting. This is no problem if you always bet maximum coins, which is the best play in terms of expected returns, but players sometimes like to play a lesser amount of coins. If that’s you, using the Pro Training software will teach you the wrong plays based on the number of coins you are betting.

You have the Dynamic Replay option, where every time you make a mistake, the computer remembers and feeds it back to you several times until you get it correct enough times that it stops including it in the mix. This is probably a good thing if you’re trying to learn the game with 100% accuracy. If you’re a “close enough is good enough” kind of player, you’re going to be missing many difficult hands and these will keep being fed back to you. Which might be annoying. Since this is an optional feature, some people will want to use it, and some won’t.

You can choose the level of difficulty you want — including easy, random, medium to difficult only, and difficult only. Difficulty is based on the difference in EV, which is, in general, not a particularly good proxy for the level of difficulty. In 9/6 Jacks or Better, for example, if you’re playing the difficult settings, more than half of the hands begin with an unsuited AJ (where you should always hold both cards) or a “KT” along with a lower card of the same suit. Here you should play the “KT” if there is no 9 in the hand and just the K if there is a 9 in the hand. These are important hands to know, but not hard to master and you’re getting them more than half the time. Both WinPoker (where you can set the difference in EV and adjust it up or down depending on the particulars of a game and what you want) and Video Poker for Winners (where a variety of hands are included in each of the settings in addition to just basing it on the difference in EV) do this function better.

You can select the cards you wish to study, as you can in all good trainers, but in Pro Training, it’s not so user friendly. Let’s say you want to look at the hand A♠ 2♠ 3♠ 4♠ A♦. The answer in most games is to hold the spades. Then let’s say you want to look at the similar hand A♠ 2♠ 3♠ 5♠ A♦. (In Double Double Bonus, for example, the correct play is still the spades, but it’s closer than the first example.) With Pro Training, you have to start over again and enter all five cards. In both WinPoker and Video Poker for Winners, you can start with the first hand and then change the 4 to a 5 with a click of your mouse.

Overall, this software has plusses and minuses compared to others. If I played a lot of Ultimate X, Quick Quads, or one of the other games that this software helps you with and the other software products don’t, I’d definitely sign up for this software. A price of $6.95 a month (cheaper if you buy it by the year or are already a Gold Member) is small change compared to the value I’d receive. Other people can sometimes find different reasons why Pro Training is valuable to them.

If you wish to try it out for yourself, you can get 1,000 free hands by going to www.videopoker.com/gwae.

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