The other day (and don’t ask how these things enter my mind), I started thinking about how people go about poker training nowadays. What happened was I started thinking about an old poker program that I used to have, Donahoe Digital’s Tournament Poker (otherwise known as DD Tournament Poker), and whether I could still use it. I started looking around and, to my amazement, I found the actual laptop that contained the program.

DD Tournament Poker, when it came out in 2005, was a groundbreaking tournament and ring game poker trainer. Donahoe Digital worked with the University of Alberta (long known for their poker simulators, or “bots”) to incorporate four different poker “bots” of varying playing styles. While it included several set tournament formats for the World Series of Poker, PokerStars, and Party Poker, it also allowed players to set up their own simulations to allow them to practice in a tournament setting (the ring game work was also pretty good too…there were PLENTY of fun things with this program, including a tournament clock you could use for a home game).

Long story short, my software worked just fine (although the computer is running Windows XP, believe it or not). Donahoe Digital ended support for DD Tournament Poker in 2017, but it does go to show that the software was useful for well over a decade (a heck of a run for such a program). As I played along through a simulated tournament, however, it also got me thinking about how people train for poker circa 2023 – and the answers might not be much different than what was used in 2005!

Better Tournament Simulators – But a Bit More Pricey

To learn about some of the software and training courses today, I asked those that know – the folks on poker pages that have used some of these tools. One of the tools that was mentioned by many was Advanced Poker Training. This was, in the view of several members of these pages, one of the closest programs to the old DD Tournament Poker version.

Through Advanced Poker Training, a player could analyze their game, with the program supporting the importation of stats to allow for this. There are different training scenarios possible, along with a Weekly Training Plan to get a player to advance in their skills as quickly as possible. Pros involved with the site include former World Champion Scotty Nguyen, two-time World Poker Tour champion Jonathan Little, Scott Clements, David Williams, and poker coach James Sweeney.

One tool that came up delves into a controversial area – GTO simulators and calculators. Preflop Academy is a tool that you could put on your cellphone (much like GTO Wizard) that would allow you to simulate certain hands and see what the best option for play should be. This tool, however, did not exactly meet what DD Tournament Poker delivered.

The issue with these and other programs and training tools, however, is they are not sold outright anymore. In the case of Advanced Poker Training, there is a monthly subscription fee that players would pay. These can get a bit pricey for some players, making it an option that some might not be able to take advantage of.

Back to the Basics

In asking around about these training methods, and after mentioning my work with DD Tournament Poker, someone did drop a funny – “Why don’t we just go back to Super/System 2?” It was a good joke, but it is also a sincere consideration, as there are still some great poker books out there that players should utilize for training.

D&B Poker, after a decade in business, is still cranking out some excellent material in the old-fashioned form of books. One of their latest releases is from poker presenter Gareth James and his book, The Final Table. James, who partners with Dr. Tricia Cardner for the poker podcast “Poker on the Mind” (podcasts are another useful tool) and serves with MTT Poker School as an instructor, authored this book with a direct focus on the most critical juncture of a poker tournament – the final table.

James looks at playing a final table from four direct points – when it is a full table, when it is roughly six-handed, three-handed, and heads-up. He also tosses in some instructions as to proper tactics when you are the chip leader, a mid-pack maven, or the shortie at the table. James has been quite thorough with his work throughout the book, including proper charting explaining why his approaches are the correct ones to take, and it gives players a great bang for their buck at $34.95 (U. S.).

Just Push Play

Overall, however, there is no replacement for actually getting out there and playing the game in a physical setting. Whether you are playing online, in a home game, or in a live casino, the education that you can get from stepping to the felt and taking on all comers is something that a computer or training program or a book can teach you. It is also helpful to be able to speak with your fellow poker players – sometimes you can pick up some pearls of wisdom in that manner. Whichever method you decide upon, it is much like that old motto for Nike – JUST DO IT!

One Comment

  1. Richard says:

    Would go with GTOWizard if you really want to get better, invest the 89$ for a month and make a concerted effort to make the most of it – go through there MTT course/sims. There’s now a higher tier, but not yet necessary for the class of player reading this article.

    There’s also a cheaper DTO/29$/month trainer. Just plug away at it whenever you have a little time and try and understand what/why it’s doing what it’s doing. With time/patience you’ll get better.

    You can also do preflop ICM sims (should understand ICM as a tournament player of course) with GTOWizard, or with the Poker Academy you mention here. I wouldn’t do Poker Academy though as rather than updating their products w/small added fee’s for users, they rebrand and recharge full price, or very near it.

    ICMIzer SNG Trainer (Which also simulates tournaments) is another good option for a reasonable price to just get some training in in tournament push/fold spots particularly and become more comfortable knowing where you can shove or fold when stacks get shallow or when you are at the final table, or final few tables of a tournament.

    The Final Table I’m also reading, and is good so far, I’d get the paperback if rebuying however, as the kindle format the hand charts are unclear — some with 3 choices look like the entire chart is just grey w/very slight dif shade. Wasn’t planned for black and white basically.

    Book Wise – Modern Poker Theory is still the best available book atm.

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