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Master Poker's FAQ

There are always questions left unanswered, and here is where I have posted those I'm asked most often. If you have any questions left after exploring the rest of the MP website look here for the answer. If you're still left wondering about any facet of MP feel free to email me with your specific questions. For current Users there is also a small Troubleshooting section for known issues at the bottom of this page.

"I sincerely, and without reservation endorse Master Poker as the finest thing of its type available. Even experts will have their muscles hyper-flexed. If you are serious about improving your game either to raise your hourly rate or just want the most realistic partners for those long winter nights your wife has a headache, you would be insane to be without it."--Steve W., Capital Territory, Australia

"Not terribly flashy, but of all my games the one I spend the most hours playing, and I've had it over a year! That's really saying something!! Keep up the good work!"--Spencer T., Beverly Hills, CA


Q: How does the order process work, and do you accept credit cards?

A:  We accept these major credit cards, direct bank account transfers (eChecks), and Paypal.

Master Poker - All major credit cards accepted.

We ship all orders within 12-36 hours of receiving them, to anywhere in the world. Typically, you will receive a shipping notice directly from Computer Opponents Software within 24 hours of placing your order (unless the middle of a weekend).

As a member of Paypal Financial Services (a well respected global financial institution owned by eBay), all of our website orders are securely processed directly through Paypal even if you are not a Paypal member yourself. Since your order is being placed through the Paypal Financial Network, and we, Computer Opponents Software, are an official Paypal Business Merchant, you, the buyer, are protected by Paypal (an excellent company by the way). Paypal is vouching for our legitimacy and has an excellent built-in protection policy for all of our online shoppers. For anyone still not convinced, if you are an Amazon member, you can also link directly to Amazon from our Order Page if you would prefer to place your order through them. Order Now


Q: How long has Master Poker been around?

A:  Version 1 was released in October of 2007. If you've never heard of it, it's likely because I don't advertise or push reviews of the software. I originally wrote the program only for me, and only released it to the poker community when I realized I had created something special in regard to practicing the game. I'm perfectly content with a small community of MP players who contribute word-of-mouth exposure and on whom I can give my full attention as far as tech support and guidance in learning to play the game well.


Q: Is Master Poker compatible with all versions of Windows?

A:  Yes, written in a Microsoft programming language Master Poker is compatible with all versions of Windows from Win XP all the way up through Win 10. Only Mac users need fear compatibility issues, and even they can play Master Poker using PC simulation software (I recommend 'Parallels').


Q: Is Master Poker compatible with MAC (non PC) computers?

A:  The program is designed for PC's, but can be played on Mac's with PC simulation software (I recommend 'Parallels').


Q: Can Master Poker run under 64 bit Windows?

A:  Yes. Master Poker is a 32 bit program and 32 bit programs run under 64 bit Windows (all versions) using WOW emulation. In the case of Master Poker, it runs so seamlessly I didn't even realize one of my most computer illiterate testers had a 64 bit machine until just recently.


Q: Can I install Master Poker on my Tablet or Netbook PC?

A:  Very likely yes. First you will need to check to be sure that your Tablet or Netbook can handle up to 800x600 minimum screen resolution (most today can). That is the minimum resolution possible in the game. 

Second, the program is delivered to you on a CD, so if your device does not possess a CD/DVD player (many do not), it will need to have a USB port (most do). You will need access to a home or work Desktop/Notebook computer that has both a CD drive and a USB port in order to transfer the program to your device (using a thumbdrive).


Q: I've lost my CD/Case/Keycode, will you send me another??

A. Due to releasing Master Poker in a manner which allowed my buyers to install it on multiple computers I have been taken advantage of by software pirates, people copying and giving away the CD to family and friends, et cetera. For this reason, I do not provide replacements for 'lost' CD's, for 'lost' CD cases, or for 'lost' keycodes. For new buyers, this is an addictive program you will go back to year after year, particularly if you're trying to improve your game. I highly recommend you put your CD and Case away somewhere safe. Don't say I didn't warn you.


Q: Is Master Poker compatible with all virus software?

A:  Typically, yes. We've had some recent issues with Microsoft's new anti-malware software, Security Essentials, where MP had to be reinstalled after the user installed SE on his/her computer. After reinstalling MP, it was back to functioning properly.

Before Reinstalling MP: If you must reinstall your MP software and would like to preserve your personal preferences and history data you will need to copy the 'MasterDB' file to a safe place before reinstalling. Once the new installation is complete, copy that file back to the new Master Poker directory typically located at "C:\Program Files\Master Poker" (under 'My Computer'). If using 64bit Windows your 'Program Files' folder will have an '(x86)' attached.


Q: Is there an Instruction Manual for MP?

A:  Yes, a detailed one. It is called 'MP User's Guide'. In both versions it is located in the 'Master Poker' programs directory/folder on your Windows Desktop. Click the 'Start' button, highlight 'All Programs', highlight the 'Master Poker' directory, then left-click the 'MP User's Guide' file. It is in HTML format so it can be read with any browser, and easily printed if desired.

I have found that few buyers actually read the manual before diving right in to play. For this reason the most recent version of the program now contains an imbedded Quickstart tutorial to get you up and running. 

I also highly recommend taking the time to read the manual to get all you can out of your purchase. Master Poker has many hidden features, some of which are very important. My favorite, betting with the keyboard (multiples of the BB, percentages of the pot, etc) ... check it out!


Q: When installing the program it asks whether or not I want to replace my newer Windows files? How do I answer?

A. Always keep your ‘Newer’ Windows files. To make Master Poker compatible with all versions of Windows back to Windows XP the program uses older versions of database support files. Newer versions of Windows will have more updated files of the same type and name. During installation, if Windows asks if you wish keep your newer existing Windows files, click YES to keep each one. This could be 8-10 files (with descriptions like ‘Jet’ and ‘DAO’).

Don't worry, you can't mess it up--Windows will protect you (by putting the new files back) even if you click the wrong answer—do not be afraid. ;)


Q: Are all the players in my tournament actually playing behind the scenes?

A:  Yes, they are actually playing every hand, just as you are. Master Poker does not use fill-in arrays or standby player lists to draw from when a seat comes open at the human player's table, as this would not create real-world conditions. In MP, each active table out of your view plays a complete and legitimate hand each time you push the Deal button. When players fill the empty seats at your table they are being pulled from other active tables which are being broken down as the total number of remaining players dwindles. The players you eventually meet at the final table, whether weak or tough, have actually earned their way there, just as you have. This is all part of the overall MP concept of making your event as close to the real world as possible.


Q: Does Master Poker control which cards are being dealt to make my hands more dramatic, or constantly take me out on the River? I seem to see Pocket Aces and miracle River cards far too often.

A:  Never. Card dealing for all computer card simulations is controlled by a simple random number generator, a mathematical algorithm that says, "Look at my deck of (52) cards and randomly deal a new card that has not been dealt yet." As the programmer I exert no control over which cards have been dealt to whom. As a poker player myself, to do so would be cheating (stacking the deck), and violate everything for which I stand in regards to quality poker software (and life). In fact, I would guess this implication would be blasphemy even to my competitors, whose software might look at your hand (to support a weak AI), but would never likely stack the deck against you.

As for frequent pocket aces, you will be dealt pocket aces 1 in 221 hands (220 to 1). With a full table of (10) players you will see them in someone’s hand every (22) hands. With the dealing animation turned off and using the Zip feature for garbage hands Master Poker will deal the average player (22) hands in around 2 minutes of play time (with only a small portion of them playable). This means you will see Pocket Aces in someone's hand about every two minutes. That might seem like a lot to an inexperienced player, or someone used to watching TV poker (where you might not see (22) hands in the whole show), but it's just math.

As for miracle cards on the river, I'm reminded of the players we all see at online poker sites. They flop a nice Set of Aces then sit there quietly slowplaying it to gain maximum value on their hand, checking and calling all the way to the River. By trying to wring as much money as possible out of your vulnerable hand you're letting the entire table catch up. Good opponents on big draws will call your small bets and take their free cards when you check. Then bam, you've been "Rivered!" Even a basic flush draw is going to get you one time in three. Imagine having several draws out against you at once!

These players then shout that the online site itself is crooked and part of same vast conspiracy to cheat this particular player out of his deserved pot. It's not a conspiracy, it's just the math catching up with you through your weak play. And it happens to everyone at some point. Master Poker is professional-grade software. It never controls how the cards are dealt (either in your hand or on the board), it never looks at your cards, and it never cheats.

Note: You're actually making a case for the skill of MP's computer players. By not falling into your slowplaying traps and finally drawing out on you they are doing their job.  ;)

Exception: The one exception to all this is of course when you preset your holecards or the Board cards to be dealt specific cards for every hand (a practice feature). Then the program is just doing what you tell it to do. 


Q: I love the ability to change table backgrounds, is there anywhere we can download more?

A:  Not currently. I am giving more thought to it and may opt to provide more choices in the future, but I think the current (14) options will hold most players over for a long while.


Q: Is there a way to see the size of the average player's chipstack at any point in a tournament?

A:  Yes. On the Table Screen, left-click the yellow Leaderboard label and hold the mouse button down to see a breakdown of all of the following running data:

  • Total Chips in Play
  • Average Chipstack
  • Your Chipstack
  • Your Overall Share (of Total Chips in Play)
  • The number of Big Blinds left in your stack
  • Your current 'M' Factor (for Harrington fans)
  • The current Pot-To-Stack ratio (if your turn to act)


Q: Can I turn off the dealing animation to make play faster?

A:  Yes. Turn off the personal preference 'Show cards being dealt' (remove the check). This should eliminate the dealing animation and instantaneously start all dealt hands in front of each player. 

You can further speed up the game by also adjusting the preference 'Turn off AI Realism Delays' (check the box). This pref kills the delay where the computer players seem to be 'thinking' about what to do (when their name is flashing in gold letters). Both the dealing animation and the AI thinking delay were installed for players looking for a casual game with a relaxed pace. Power-players need not apply.

And finally, you can further speed your game by reducing the 'AI Action Delay' (on the Main Sign-up Screen) to the lowest possible setting. 

For me personally, these adjustments allow an average of more than a thousand hands played per hour. That's a bunch.


Q: What is the maximum number of players allowed in tournament play?

A:  Playing 10-Seated tables, and opening 1000 tables, the current maximum tournament size is 10,000 players (each with a unique screen name). At the time of this publication only the World Series Main Event has ever exceeded 5k players, but I wanted you to be able to simulate precisely that most important event.


Q: Does Master Poker allow me to see a computer player's hand even if I fold the hand?

A:  Of course. Not giving you the option to view an AI player's cards (at any time) would be like blacking out the stars in a photograph of the moon landing or the space shuttle. It just doesn't make sense unless there's something to hide.

On the Table Screen, as you play a hand the gray/brown (v1/v2) button on the far right side of the command button bar will read 'Review Action'. Clicking this button at any time during the hand lets you see a running text review for all action that has occurred up until that point in the hand. Once the hand has completed (in this case when you folded) this button will change to read 'Review Hands'. Clicking it now will graphically display the starting hands of all players at the table, whether they stayed in the hand all the way down or not. Clicking it a second time will display the running text review for the entire hand from start to finish.


Q: Why should I buy home software when I have the Internet to play on?

A:  The Internet is certainly a boon for poker and an excellent place to play ... for money. It's not an excellent place to play if you play for fun, for practice, or for real, but lose more money than you win (be honest with yourself). Even if you're already an Internet or regular live player consider these reasons as to why you should invest in good poker software to play at home:

  • Saves you money while you practice/perfect your game, or while you play for recreation.
  • Unless you already play multiple tables online you can easily play 15-25 times more hands than online play in the same amount of time. Excellent for building experience in a short time period.
  • Allows you to test and improve upon your theories, or those concepts you're reading in poker books, or your own personal ideas, all without the time or pressure constraints of an online or live game.
  • Allows you to perfectly simulate your regularly played events, then play them over and over in a fraction of the time, in order to become more comfortable with specific stakes, or blind structures, and to give yourself an accurate idea of what type of results you can consistently expect in that type of event (ie. WSOP Main Event, your local Sunday online tournament, your weekly home tournament).
  • Allows you to quickly warm-up your poker mind, before playing online or local live events (very important).
  • Allows you to step away from your game at any time to cook dinner, handle a phone call, check on crying kids, take out the garbage, or respond to your spouse, without concern for losing chips, or being dealt out of a hand, or missing your turn to act.
  • For students of the game, allows you to take all the time you need to analyze any given hand more closely as it occurs, without the pressure of a time clock.
  • For novices, allows you to increase your skill and knowledge without embarrassment or negative interaction, and without pressure to act within a time limit (as in online play).
  • For beginners. A much better substitute for Internet 'play money' or penny games, which can not only fail to give you the proper practice to develop good skills, but will often provoke the development of bad habits (such as impatience in starting hand decisions).
  • If you're an online player, think about no more flashing ads, or annoying chatter, or guys screaming that the website is out to get them, while you're trying to concentrate on your game.
  • If you're a live player, think about the driving time and the gas you will save, or the nagging you won't have to suffer every time you want to leave the house to play poker.
  • You'll no longer have to put up with unruly players, bad attitudes, smoke-filled rooms, bells ringing, and bands playing in the background, unless you're really in the mood.
  • You can play anytime you wish, even when the Internet goes down, without having to warm up the car, get fully dressed, or wait for a seat in your desired game.
  • If you're a cash player, you won't have to pay another real life rake until you're certain you're going to be winning many more pots than you're losing.
  • There's never a problem finding just the right game to suit your mood; the perfect event, the perfect number of opponents, the perfect stakes, the perfect atmosphere, the perfect companions, and at any time day or night in the safety of your own home, office, dorm, hotel room, airplane, truck cab, park bench, cyber cafe, wherever.
  • The purchase price for Master Poker is much less than a single losing session in a .50/$1.00 cash game. Think about that.
  • And finally ... It's fun!

The only players who may not benefit from quality home software are those who already spend the vast majority of their day winning money playing poker online professionally. And even then, there might be a few reasons for you to own it anyway:

  • Since you can easily play 15-25 times more hands than online in the same amount of time it allows you to test and improve upon your new theories without needing to risk any real money.
  • For tournament players, it allows you to perfectly simulate a new event structure with which you might not be familiar. For example, if you're going to the Aussie Millions you could get the actual structure in advance, input it into Master Poker, and play the tournament over and over again to get a solid grasp of what actions will be needed at which stages during the real deal.
  • For cash players, it allows you to practice at a new level before moving up in stakes. Though computer players are not likely to exhibit the precise changes you will experience in the next level up it does allow you to get familiar with the specific betting levels, etc., which can be expected.
  • You can play while traveling if bored, or to keep your mind sharp; in the airport, on the plane, while sitting in that foreign hotel room with no Internet connection, whenever. 
  • Allows you to quickly warm-up your poker mind, before playing online or local live events (very important).
  • Allows you to sometimes play only to relax, as opposed to juggling a half dozen tables for eight straight hours in an effort to squeeze every penny out of your game.
  • And again ... It's a one-time cost of less than a single losing session in a .50/$1.00 cash game.

Believe it or not, these are just the reasons off the top of my head. I'm sure if motivated, you can probably think of a dozen more reasons that apply to you personally. For poker players who already risk any amount of money at the tables, even just small change, there really is no down side. And we should all pray that our governing fathers resist the ludicrous urge to make Internet poker illegal (an obvious game of skill, not gambling, to anyone who pays attention). If that happens this list might grow too large to safely download.


Q: Do Master Poker's computer players use a different style when playing in Cash Games as opposed to Tournaments?

A:  Yes. While a good Hold'em player can probably survive in either environment there are definite (and serious) differences between cash games and tournaments. MP's AI players know how to adjust their playing style to suit the current event, whether a large Tournament, a one-table Sit and Go, or a Cash Game.


Q: Does Master Poker have a Heads-up play option?

Master Poker - Set to two players for Headsup action.A:  Yes, and a pretty good one. The primary AI (artificial intelligence) is geared toward a full table of players (9/10). While it is still strong as the number of players at a table are reduced, it reaches a point of critical mass at less than 6 seated players. Strategy and tactics for the game change dramatically from this point on down to Heads-up play as each subsequent player leaves the table. It didn't take long to realize I would need to write an AI addendum for Shorthanded play (3-5 players) and a fully dedicated AI for Heads-up play. I did exactly that. After working rather extensively with the Heads-up AI I feel pretty confident that it will give even most advanced players a solid run for their money (and properly annihilate weak competition). A good Heads-up opponent was one of the original demands I placed on myself back when the software was still intended only for me. To play Heads-up simply adjust the appropriate slider on the Event Setup Screen to two players.

Note: You may play all events with anywhere from 2-10 players (including yourself), and as players are removed from the table the remaining players will evenly spread out to other seats around the table. For example, when you play Heads-up your opponent will be seated directly across the table from you, not to your immediate right or left.


Q: Does MP have the ability to save a tournament in progress so I can finish it at a later time?

A:  Yes. Master Poker allows you to save any type of event, whether Tournament, Sit and Go, Survivor, or even Cash Games if you wish, at any stage in the event to return to it at a later date. Even after saving your session, you will have the option to quit at that point, or continue playing right where you left off.

Note: MP will even temporarily store your played hands if you had the 'Record Every Hand I Play' preference checked, allowing you to pick up right where you left off when you continue the event (with no need to save them separately just because you saved your session).


Q: The command button bar has options to raise-minimum, raise-pot-size or push all-in, but are these the only choices? I don't see how to simply raise by the amount that I want to bet (e.g. twice the Big Blind). Is there any way to do that? (applies to Version 1 only)

A:  Yes. There are now four primary ways to enter your wagers in Master Poker. They are as follows:

The Action Buttons:

These are the buttons you're referring to above--they simply provide some simple mouse shortcuts, but won't be used often by most serious players once you have grown accustomed to the software.

The Betting Bar:

When it is your turn to act, simply move your mouse cursor over the area just above the rail bar to the right of your cards. A green betting bar will automatically pop up allowing you to bet any amount you wish. It possesses not only a slider to make sizing your bet very easy, but also several sets of up/dn arrow keys to make precise adjustments. At the start of each session attention is drawn to this area with bright yellow letters reading 'Place cursor over this area for betting bar' (until you use the bar for the the first time). Look for those yellow letters when it is your turn to act (they are grayed out when it's not your turn).

The Keyboard Number keys:

My favorite, and soon to be yours too (highly recommended). There are three ways to use your keyboard's number keys for precise betting patterns:

1) Preflop: Using the 0-9 number keys you can raise a precise multiple of the Big Blind (0=10). For example, the action gets around to you and no one has yet opened the betting. By hitting the 2 key on your keyboard you will automatically raise the Big Blind by precisely 2 more BB's (for a total bet of 3x's the BB). If you hit the 3 key, your initial raise will be 3x's the BB, etc.

2) Postflop: If you're the initial bettor in any round after the flop, you can bet a percentage of the pot by using the same 0-9 number keys. For example, if you hit the 5 key you will automatically bet 50% of the pot. The 7 key would bet 70%, etc. ...

3) Preflop/Postflop. Any time there is a raise, you can use the same 0-9 number keys to make a reraise of the current raise by a multiple equal to the number key you push. For example, If a computer player opens the hand for a standard 3xBB wager (he has called the BB and raised 2 more BB's), you can hit the 2 key to reraise twice the amount of his initial raise. If you hit the 3 key, you will automatically reraise 3x's the amount of his initial raise, etc ... This works against all raises both Preflop and Postflop.

The Keyboard Numpad:

And finally, when in doubt, once it is your turn to act you can also just start typing your bet amount into your keyboard's Numpad (the pad at the right side of the keyboard). The betting slider will automatically pop into view and your typed bet will appear in that slider. Once you have the total where you want it either hit the 'Enter' key on your Numpad, or click the 'Bet' button on the betting slider bar. Bink!

It's highly recommended that all buyers take a few moments to go over the Instruction Manual in your Windows Programs Menu (under Master Poker) for specific details on the full use of your keyboard and other hidden features (or hit the 'K' key between hands while at the table to view the keyboard 'Hotkeys' graphic). This is the only way to be sure you get the full benefit of all of Master Poker's powerful feature set. From your Windows Desktop click the 'Start' button and 'All programs' to see your programs menu.


Q: The Starting Hand Guide's comments seem to be aimed at a tight/aggressive style?

A:  Yes, they are. The SHG is meant primarily for those players who are not yet comfortable with their playing style, their starting hand choices, or their actual level of expertise. I believe the priority of new or novice players should be to become comfortable in their starting hand decisions under dynamically changing table conditions, while developing a tight/solid style that provides protection against aggressive players.

The SHG is very powerful, and structured toward furthering these goals. If you're a new player to the game, or don't feel you have a solid grasp of the games basic-to-intermediate concepts the Starting Hand Guide alone will be worth the price of the software. Don't miss out!


Q: MP's Tough players seem to play more hands than the Starting Hand Guide suggests. I can understand this behavior from the Dead Money and the Aggressives, but I thought the Tough players were closer to what I should be trying to achieve. Am I missing something?

A:  As I noted above, the SHG is aimed primarily at helping novice players learn to build a solid foundation. It is by no means the only way to play, or even the best way to play. It advocates a tight/aggressive style. It is good, solid, general advice, meant to keep a novice player from getting in too much trouble. It's primarily to keep you from making obvious mistakes. To teach you what not to do. To make you more aware of what's happening at the table outside of your own hand. To give you an idea of how more experienced players might be thinking. 

The more experience you gain in Hold'em the more hands you will be able to play without drastically increasing your risk (the reason MP's Tough players can play more hands). The more hands you play, the more opportunities you will see. You can do this after you have become experienced because you will learn how to recognize traps and get away from second best hands (perhaps the most dangerous condition a novice faces). 

A simple example might be when the novice calls an early preflop raise with a hand like A9 suited. When an ace flops he thinks he did good and he bets it. When that early player raises, the novice calls ... and now he's in big trouble. He's already committed a bunch of chips to the pot and then what do you do if the early raiser bets again on the Turn? Most novices would call again, and since the novice is showing no real strength he might have to call another big bet on the River (and he likely will). His opponent turns over AK and he's lost 3/4 of his stack on a weak ace. Master Poker's Starting Hand Guide would have told him not to play that ace from the beginning (and explained why). There's why. To keep him out of this type of trouble.

I recommend you do indeed first try to understand the concepts being put forth by the SHG. From there, you can open up your game a bit and pay a little more attention to what other hands the Tough players are playing, but don't just look at their cards. You must also look at the conditions under which they played those cards. Were they in position, getting huge pot odds, on a huge stack, facing a single weaker player, etc ... this game is all about your opponents and the table conditions. It has less and less to do with your actual cards as your game improves. The most important tip I can give you is to be patient with your skills ... play thousands and thousands of hands (hundreds of thousands). Your skill will naturally increase with time without even thinking about it--it's about seeing the same table conditions over and over and discovering what works and what doesn't ... that's experience.

Q: The Dead Money players in MP don't seem to be so weak as their name might imply. It's tough to win a tournament even with 100% Dead Money. How bad are they, really, compared to real world players?

A:  The truth is, MP's Dead Money players are actually pretty good when compared to the multitude of really bad players out in the real world, both online and in the brick and mortar cardrooms. The poker community has coined the term 'Donkey' to describe a truly BAD player. With hindsight, I probably should have included another level of player personality below my Dead Money players known as Donkeys. The problem is, the intention behind Master Poker is to make you a high quality poker player by putting you into real-world confrontations with solid opponents, not opponents who literally throw their money at you. In the end your MP successes will be measured by the level of competition you've faced. Most users will gain far more confidence, experience and satisfaction doing well in a tournament against 65% Dead Money players (meaning the other 35% is Tough), than if they were to win a tournament that possessed 100% Donkeys. 

While it's true you do need to learn to play against Dead Money players (it's much different than facing skilled players), you do not necessarily need experience playing against Donkeys. Let's just say MP's Dead Money players are aimed at simulating the vast number of players who know enough to get themselves into trouble, but don't know enough to get themselves out of trouble. A Donkey is another beast entirely.


Q: What's the smallest game I can play as far as chip denominations?

A:  The smallest chip denomination in MP is 1 chip (or $1 in Cash Games), which means the smallest game possible will have blinds of 1/2 (in chips or dollars). The largest single denomination chips allow games in the hundreds of millions of dollars, should you desire.


Q: Why does my player (the human player) ALWAYS get his higher card first?

A:  As I tediously tested the software I found it much easier to read the hands quickly if the larger ranked card were placed first. I figured most players would prefer to have them delivered in this manner for the same reason, particularly those power players who found themselves zipping through large quantities of hands. All computer hands are sorted in the same manner for when they are displayed to you (for ease of view). As the inner workings go--Master Poker deals out all hands in a completely random manner, then arranges them in order of rank within each player's hand, then displays them to the User.


Q: I average about 60 hands per hour when playing online. How many hands per hour would you say I can play with Master Poker?

A:  I think most any player would agree, your experience level in No-limit Hold'em is directly related to the number of played hands you can tuck under your belt. Using MP's Zip function (to zip to the end of hands you don't want to play), playing a tight/aggressive style (about 12-14% of the hands dealt), and using an AI Action Speed of .2 seconds (one notch below maximum speed), I regularly book between 900-1000 hands per hour. Even at the low end that's 15 times the number of hands you will see in online play, and more than 25 times the hands you would see in a live game. As any experienced player knows, any time you're playing with other humans the vast majority of your time is wasted watching cards being dealt as you wait for the next playable hand.


Q: Are you saying I can't learn to play good No-limit Hold'em on my X-Box or Playstation?

A:  I would agree with that, yes, and it's not just the gaming consoles. While many do produce excellent visual effects (and graphics of your favorite poker heroes) you just can't learn to be a good player if you're playing against bad competition. This applies to the outside world, the Internet, or any poker software. Yes, you can learn the mechanics, and perhaps some basic strategy, but your playing skill will never reach a winning level unless you're faced with the challenges provided by solid competition. As I've said before, the computer players can only be as good at poker as the folks who programmed it. If you're serious about improving your game, invest only in serious software written by actual poker players who are also dedicated students of the game. Just because you see a player's likeness in the game, or a picture of a famous player on the packaging it doesn't mean that player actually had direct input into how the program's artificial intelligence functions. I can't imagine too many pros giving up many months (or years) of their valuable time to sit down and work out each possible situation with the game's programmers. That's just not realistic.


Q: The blinds in my local tournaments go up in timed intervals, how is this handled by Master Poker?

Master Poker - Equivalent to mnutes per blind level (online)A:  In a real-world or online tournament a clock typically determines when to implement ante/blind increases (for example, every 15 minutes), but in the real world you are expected to sit in your seat until you are knocked out. Since MP has no need to impose such strict time guidelines on you, we use a 'hands-per-level' clock to determine when blind increases should be implemented. Online poker deals approximately 60 hands per hour, therefore we can simulate time by saying 1 hand equals approximately 1 minute of real time. After playing approximately 60 hands you have been playing the equivalent of 1 hour's real time. This means if you wish to have the blinds increase every 15 minutes, you would set the 'hands-per-level' slider to raise the blinds at the end of every 15 hands. This system allows you to save the game, answer the door, empty the trash, or get something to drink at any time during your tournament while still maintaining an accurate real-life tournament time structure.


Q: Does MP track the human player's tendencies and save this data from session to session?

A:  Yes, and no. Yes, MP tracks your tendencies as if observing your play at the table and uses that data for the current session. No, MP does not save this information from new session to new session (unless you saved the session itself for later play). There are many reasons for not relying on this tracking data for future session decisions:

  • Tracking your tendencies from one session to another will give a false reading on the intelligence of the computer players. Any poker software could use this information to make it appear as if the computer players are smarter than they are, when in actuality they had to start collecting data on you in order to be smart. MP's computer players have no need to build a running database on you. They're already smart right out of the barn, and they will adapt to whatever moves you are making today. They may be more cautious in the early going of a session, but they will never be clueless.
  • The reality is that you're not likely playing the same (9) players every single session (except perhaps a regular home game). If the software uses this saved tracking data in each new session your opponents are going to always be proactive against you, basing their actions on your past actions. They are not going to need a chance to study you and react to your current style of play as they would have to do in the real world. A good example is in tournament play, where you're very unlikely to be met with a table full of players who already know exactly how you play. This would not be a realistic playing field. Your opponents should have to study you early on from event to event, just as you should have to study them.
  • As you improve as a player this saved data is going to be quickly out of date. Since there is no way to turn that type of feature off your AI opponents will then always be at a distinct disadvantage, as they are being forced to use a style of play against you that is no longer relevant. Then what? 

When the AI is allowed to adjust to your most recent tendencies from session to session you will consistently receive the most accurate and realistic response from your opponents. When your style changes, or when your skill improves, Master Poker's tough players will adapt and adjust their styles against you. This way you will always get the most competitive and realistic conditions possible.

Now ... all that said. You do have the option to Save your sessions for future play. I included the option to Save your cash games (as opposed to cashing out) for those players who want the AI to remember you. If you're practicing for a game in which you will be facing players who already know you're style (ie. a weekly home cash game) you can play your cash games as one long session. That is, instead of cashing out after each session simply Save the session and next time you play just pick up where you left off. This should give you stronger competition, for at least as long as your chipstack doesn't get too large for the game, then you can cash out and begin again.


Q: Can I build a brand new blind structure from scratch to match my current home game?

A:  Yes. MP comes with nearly (40) built-in blind structures, but these are included just to make your life easier if you'd like to play something like the World Series Main Event. The true beauty of the MP Custom Blind Structures is that you never have to cross your fingers and hope for a pre-made structure that matches your needs. In MP, if you know the structure, you can quickly build a precise custom structure to match it (in less than five minutes). And down the line, when your home structure changes, it's even easier to update your custom structure to match the new changes, so it's never out of date or inaccurate.

As a player, what I like most about this construct is that I can go to a new Internet poker site and look up, for example, their special Sunday tournament. The blind structure for this new tourney is likely to be unfamiliar to me, but ... I pull up the tournament's blind structure and input it into MP's Custom Structure template. Five minutes later, I'm practicing tournaments with the precise buy-in, structure, and blind level intervals as the real thing. By the time Sunday arrives, I'm ready. You could do the same thing with any home game you're invited to for the first time, or perhaps a local casino tournament where you're spending the weekend.



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