Poker software is hugely popular with online players. We compare two of the best

We review the best poker tracking software available and find a winner

Tracking software is useful in all forms of poker, but perhaps is more suited to the regular and repetitious betting sequences found in cash games. The use of tracking software can increase a player ’s win-rate massively, enabling them to identify weak spots in their opponents’ games and plug leaks of their own. Serious players use tracking software.

Most software doesn’t make the cut, as it struggles to provide the level of service that the market leaders produce consistently with every new model. In our most recent software review, PokerOffice came through with flying colours and after a thorough review I can testify to its cracking aesthetics, seemingly endless presentation capabilities and superb ease of use.

At the time of that test however, the two biggest competitors to PokerOffice had yet to be fully released. In this piece I discuss the merits and downsides of the two other big guns in the poker tracking market, PokerTracker 3 (PT3) and Hold’em Manager (HEM).


PokerTracker 2 was the prominent force in online poker tracking for well over two years. During that time, the software team enjoyed the luxury of market domination and, to a large extent, customer satisfaction. The product excelled and people were happy. Their latest piece was released in public beta early this year and has undergone a rigorous testing by users across a range of sites. I tested the software on the two major US sites and a small European network.


The price is $90, which gives a licence to two computers. I found the setup fairly simple and the online guide’s instructions spot on. There is a wide variety support on the major US forums for any glitches you might have in setup. The import speed was fast and it was significantly higher than HEM when importing large samples of hands. It also had a lower CPU usage which would make it favourable if you happen to own an older computer.

Looking at the makeup of the software, PT3 is a very sleek looking piece of kit. The interface is very user friendly and the amount of data per screen is higher than HEM. The experienced software team at PT3 have designed a neat and well thought out bit of kit that has a solid understanding of the needs of players. The ability to filter and analyse hands (either for yourself or versus specific opponents) for example, is preferable to HEM’s format, which seems a bit more laborious and tricky to understand. The graphing options are also more diverse and customisable.


A downside to PT3 is the speed of improvement. The amount of bugs and problems faced by PT3 users surpasses HEM users by quite a margin. The sites supported are also lower than HEM, with PT3 currently supporting Everest, Full Tilt, iPoker, PartyPoker, PokerStars and partial support for the Ongame Network. There is a priority given to the two major US sites in terms of updates and bug-fixing – relatively understandable given their customer base. The general support team are much faster and more helpful than the old PT2 staff, but are nowhere near as on the ball as HEM. Critical software updates and debugging issues have taken longer than their competitors.

Although committed to improving their product, they seem a little slower to provide help than HEM. Also, PT3’s HUD is not up to the standard of HEM’s. The amount of bugs I encountered over a three-month trial, from severe lag and computer freeze to layout maintenance issues was worse than HEM over the same period – although of late on the major US sites the HUD has been rock solid. Over time I don’t doubt it will be the same on other supported sites.


Price: $89.99

Supported sites: Absolute, CryptoLogic Network, Everest, Full Tilt, iPoker, PartyPoker, PokerStars, UltimateBet

Free trial: 60 days

Added software: Poker Tracker Hold’em v2, PokerAce Hud


This is the Hold’em Manager team’s first foray into the tracking software market. The software was hotly anticipated as being at the front line of the next generation of poker software. I tested the software on PokerStars, Full Tilt and Betfair.

HEM was more difficult to setup than PT3. I found the process trickier, with more complex installation procedures than its competitors. The $80 price tag is cheaper than PT3, although both products will pay for themselves very quickly, whatever stakes you play.


Without a doubt the best part of owning HEM is the support. A cracking forum with very helpful and super fast support generally resolves any problem you may have in a matter of hours, as opposed to weeks. Regular software updates has kept HEM ahead of the competitors in many departments, even if it lacks a bit of the sleekness of PT3.

The HEM HUD will certainly improve your game. Solid and reliable, with more customisable features and intuitive design than the rest, enabling you to design HUD setups that match any table you play at on any setup. A clearer, cleaner HUD lets you focus more on the real point of all of this, playing good poker.

HEM’s player analysis tools are better than on PT3. When playing regulars, the ability to take analysis of their game to a new level is made easy with the vast array of ways of looking at HEM data. The active player window is a personal favourite. It’s very handy to see how a player is playing at a particular time and being able to dip in and out of his hands in-game is a cracking feature. HEM is also close to being completely bug-free. The numerous software developments mean that it is further down the development line than PT3 and is a much more refined product, probably owing to the speed of update and incredibly hard work of the small team of software designers. A few glitches on the smaller networks are still being worked on but for the most part the kit is working well.

HEM supported sites: PartyPoker, PokerStars, Full Tilt, Absolute, CryptoLogic, Prima/ Microgaming network, iPoker, Bodog, UltimateBet, Ongame, Everest, Betfair and Pacific.


The import speed and CPU usage are both worse than PT3 and occasional crashes still occur when importing large new hand histories. The tournament support is also not as good as PT3, not yet providing as much high quality support as it does to its cash game clients. This issue is being worked on at present, but is a definite weakness in the software.


Price: $80

Supported sites: Party Poker, Poker Stars, Full Tilt, Absolute, Crypto Network,Prima / Micro Gaming Network, iPoker, Bodog, Ultimate Bet, OnGame Network, Everest, Betfair and Pacific

Free trial: 15 days

Added software: None


Both PT3 and HEM are the best examples of tracking software on the market for the serious professional. HEM may be further down the developmental stage and is a more polished item but PT3 has the capacity to outstrip it over the coming months. It all depends on the PT3 support staff. The current team appear to be much more proactive than the PT2 support staff but have a long way to go before reaching the high-end customer service experienced by HEM customers. PT3 has a better “engine”. It handles large samples better and imports faster and steadier than HEM. HEM, on the other hand, has a more customisable framework and user-specific feel, lending itself to the specific requirements of cash game players.

The two are closely matched in terms of overall customer satisfaction but I think HEM edges the race. Tracking software is a tight market, with each team quick to replicate the others advances. But, no matter what product you buy in the world customer service is always crucial. And so, the winner is, Hold’em Manager.

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