As the iPhone becomes more and more ubiquitous, the amount and type of poker-related applications developed for the iPhone continues to expand. initial offerings were limited to basic odds calculators and the like, but offerings are becoming increasingly complex and ambitious, as is the case with the subject of this review: Alpha for Texas Hold’em.
ATH is essentially a PokerTracker for live poker – it assembles all of the hands you play in a live session and stores them in a remote database for later analysis. It also serves as a basic session tracker, recording details such as games played, limits, won/loss, and so on. Entry of the data is obviously manual, and while immediate session data can be viewed from within the application, more in-depth analysis of the data you’ve inputted requires you to fire up an internet browser.
ATH certainly gets points for uniqueness – we’re not aware of any program that essentially tries to be the PokerTracker of live play.
There’s some good things to be said about the interface for data input. Getting data from a live hand in is obviously going to be a cumbersome process no matter how you do it – especially when you consider that doing the same task online is essentially an instantaneous event – but the ATH developers have done a reasonably good job at making the data entry process fairly painless and intuitive, which is no mean feat – especially when you consider that they’re limited to a fairly tight screen with the iPhone.
The online database component of the service is where a majority of the work seems to have gone, and it shows. You have a number of filterable ways to view the data you’ve uploaded, sortable by just about any metric you can imagine – date, hand, flop action, amount won or lost, opponent, and so on.
Cons for this product fall into two categories: concept and cost.
Conceptual: There have to be some serious questions about the fundamental utility of this software. Database programs such as this rely on a pretty large data set to be of much use, and it’s really questionable whether or not you’ll even get close to a useful sample over your entire poker career. Even if you play a ton, there’s still the matter of entering the data for each hand – it’s a fairly clunky process despite the efforts of ATH’s developers, and to be honest, it’s a bit awkward to whip out your iphone after every hand and start plugging away.
The exception for the above con: if you play in a steady game where it’s not awkward to enter data, you can probably assemble a sample size that might still be small, but can be useful in plugging leaks in your game nonetheless.
Cost: At $5 for the application and then an additional monthly subscription cost to upload and analyze your hands (about $6 a month), this isn’t a pricey product per se’, but when you consider the fundamental concerns about the utility of the product, it’s pretty significant, especially relative to the cost of other poker-related iPhone applications. Also, the product ought to be far more clear about the subscription cost in the iTunes store.
An interesting idea, but perhaps a bit too ahead of its time.