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A recent interview of Patrik Antonius by PokerListings heightened my interest and that of many others when the Finnish poker pro admitted that he has stepped away from online poker due to the proliferation of poker software.

That software – such as PokerTracker and Hold’em Manager – gives players who use it a distinct advantage over those who don’t. By inputting the hand histories of opponents, the software allows users to arrive at statistics that will allow the best possible plays to be made. In the right hands PT and HM are virtual weapons, slaying recreational players and non-users like Michael Myers in a college dormitory on a Friday night.

If you’re an online pro, odds are that you’re using poker software to gain an edge. If you’re not using it, it’s likely that your win rate doesn’t compare to that of years past – and you may find yourself on the losing side of the ledger. Antonius did, and logged out as a result.

Join ’em or Quit

“I actually had to quit Hold’em and PLO online,” Antonius said. “I lost about a million straight and then I realized that I couldn’t beat the ring games anymore and that was largely due to tracking software. If you don’t use poker software it’s not a fair game anymore.”

When it was a fair game, Antonius won over $17 million online. He claims to have “never used technology” to gain an advantage over other players. And it looks as though he never will.

The Finnish poker star didn’t denounce poker software and urge others not to use it. He just apparently doesn’t like it and had the good sense to step away from online poker because of it.

You know who else stepped away from online poker because of poker software? Recreational players. The same players that the poker industry is trying so hard to attract.

Leveling is Easy

Talk regarding “leveling the playing field” and bringing more non-pros and casual players into the game is rampant in the online poker industry. Rightly so, as the games will dry up without them. But the single best way to level that field is to disallow poker-tracking software.

Players don’t use it at live tournament tables and player traffic seems to be growing worldwide on that front. But online poker is experiencing a decrease in popularity and recreational players who get slaughtered by poker software-using pros is one of the main reasons. Some of those casual players don’t return – and why would they?

Online poker could certainly use a few big name pros to come out and say what some of us already know, that poker software is ruining the game that many of us love. That if we really want online poker to be a friendly place for recreational players, the likes of Hold’em Manager and PokerTracker should be put out to pasture.

“You know, it’s a little sad, but it looks like the technology has advanced so much that it’s become a totally different game,” Antonius stated.

Sad, indeed.

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Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.