Poker Copilot: One Year Old

Today is Poker Copilot’s 1st birthday.

From a year ago:

It’s 30th June, 8:43pm, it’s the target launch date, and I’ve made it.

A few minutes ago I uploaded the live version of the Poker Copilot website. Now you can download the trial version. You can also buy Poker Copilot.

In 1995, I ran into some guys I knew from university days, including Peter Lewis. Over lunch, I heard that Peter was producing Mac software under the guise of Stairways Software, and doing very well at it. I was astounded. It never occurred to me that real people could start one-person companies to produce and sell software. Producing software? That I understood. Marketing and selling software? I thought that was for Other People. Big firms.

Now I knew it was possible, this seemed a dream career. The seed of an idea was planted. However I was doing something else at the time that had nothing to do with software. Something that was far more important to me at the time. So the seed didn’t take root.

In early 2000, inspired by the crazy dot-com money then flooding the industry and this Jakob Nielsen article, I tried to found a software company to produce content management software for intranets. Somehow though, contrary to my plan, it became a consulting company, and not a software-development house. After some years, I sold my remaining stake in the company, then travelled around the world for a year or so. When I started working again, it was as a body-for-hire contractor.

Now, I seem to have fallen on my feet with Poker Copilot. One year after releasing Poker Copilot 1.0, it’s my main source of income, and I’ve made good progress on version 2. Almost every day I’m learning something new about developing, marketing, selling, and supporting software, and I’m lovin’ it!

Poker Copilot 2 Early Access Program Update

For the curious, the brave, and the desperate, Poker Copilot 2 early access version build 13 is available at

What’s changed:

  • the Bankroll chart has showdown winnings and non-showdown winnings
  • unresponsive HUD issues have been fixed (I hope!)
  • bug fixes based on crash reports
  • I’ve experimented on the bankroll chart with a refresh button. Instead of the chart automatically updating every few seconds – which is bad idea when there is mountains of data to crunch – it updates on request

Known problems:

  • charting by hands is still unavailable

You can run the EAP version without affecting Poker Copilot 1 at all.

Poker Copilot 1.76 Released

Loyal Poker Copilot customer Andreas spotted an error in Poker Copilot’s stats. In some cases, players were appearing slighter tighter than they actually were. Some other stats based on “flops seen” were also occasionally inaccurate.

Poker Copilot 1.76 fixes this and is available now for download.

This version also knows about PokerStars’ step tournaments and calculates correct values for winning at any step.

A Lousy Poker Copilot Week – And a New Feature

Apple broke Java. Poker Copilot is written in Java.

Across the known world, Java-based apps on Mac OS X started behaving badly after Apple released the latest Java update. Apple have acknowledged that they broke things. They’ve stated that they take these problems very seriously and are working hard on solving them. But there’s no promise on when a better Java update will be available. Sigh.

The problems include:

  • disappearing menu bars.
  • menu items not working.
  • strange, random crashes that show messages like: NonJava exception raised, not handled! (Original problem: Can’t cache image)

The first two items are not critical for Poker Copilot, because you can use Poker Copilot without using the menu bar. The strange, random crashes disturb me, though. Fortunately they don’t happen often.

This affects big, well-known products too, and I think they have more leverage with Apple than I do, so I’m counting on them getting heavy with Apple. Like, “we know where your children go to school…” heavy. Like, “we have photos of you in compromising situations…” heavy.

Even worse than Apple breaking Java, I had a nasty dentist appointment. It involved metal implements I had not seen before. Foul-smelling ointments. Extended periods of pain. Maniacal grins of sadistic pleasure from my dentist. As a result I was laid low on Friday, unable to work or to respond to support e-mails, thereby failing in my endeavour to meaningfully answer all support e-mails within 24 hours. Instead I watched Michael Jackson tributes on television.

But enough self-pity. I did manage to add a highly-requested feature: showdown winnings vs non-showdown winnings.
This will be in the next EAP release, which should be available later today. Oh, and those numbers you see in the chart? That’s strictly test data gathered from a number of sources – I am not down $3,000!

Finally, although I’ve implemented this feature, I’m not sure how to use it. Does anyone care to explain how I can use the showdown vs non-showdown winnings chart to improve my game?

Stuff from Aidan + Posterous = Instant New Blog

My friend Aidan sends me links. Daily. Multiple times. Links that reveal our shared interests: zombies, travelling, computer games, and living abroad, amongst others.

Posterous lets you set up a new blog in seconds. You e-mail a post to Posterous, and it appears on your blog. If you don’t yet have a blog with Posterous one is created for you.

In 20 minutes on a rainy Saturday afternoon, I combined the last 50 or so of Aidan’s e-mails and Posterous to create the Stuff from Aidan blog.

Food, Inc

I’m looking forward to see Food, Inc. I hope (unrealistically) it gets an undubbed release here in Germany.

The origin of the food we eat is a topic I’m keenly interested in. On the one hand, modern intensive agricultural practices strike me as indefensibly depraved, as I’m sure Food, Inc will demonstrate. On the other hand, I recognise the role food industrialisation plays in banishing malnutrition, starvation, and famine to a not-so-distant past [1] (from an industrialised nation perspective). Not to mention, making many societies rich beyond belief, historically speaking. Ensuring, therefore, that people have enough money to buy Macs, play online poker, and – best of all – to buy Poker Copilot!

[1] Not-so-distant past? That’s right. The last famine in Western Europe was within living memory.

Poker Copilot HUD always on?

Loyal Poker Copilot user Keith gave some great feedback on Poker Copilot 2. One suggestion really stands out: the Head-up Display (HUD) should always be on. At the very least, it should start automatically. Great idea, and I’ve been toying around with ways to do this.

I think users still need a way to turn off the HUD – for most users it is the single most important feature in Poker Copilot, but having it always running might irritate some people. Perhaps a “Stop Head-up Display” menu item is enough.

I’m now wondering why this obvious idea didn’t occur to me earlier. Perhaps it is one of those “it took Isaac Newton to invent the cat door” ideas: seemingly obvious once invented, but it took the right kind of thinker to suggest it.

Sub-Millisecond Query Optimisation

Here’s a summary of the queries needed to add 28,000 poker hands to Poker Copilot 2.

The average query time is 0.24 thousandths of a second. Which seems okay, except that 660,000 queries in total were performed. A very small number multipled by a very large number can result in too large a number.

I’ve never had to optimise queries before that were already running in less than a millisecond. Typically, a few milliseconds per query is satisfactory. This is just one of many technical challenges behind Poker Copilot. I enjoy technical challenges.

An advantage of such fast queries is it allows good concurrency.

Now I have two possibilities for future optimisation. Make the queries faster still. Or execute less queries, possibly through more aggressive caching.

Poker Copilot 2 Early Access Program Update

For the curious, Poker Copilot 2 early access version build 10 is available at

What’s changed:

  • the HUD now works on multiple tables at once
  • other stuff (bug fixes, HUD attempts to auto-start when you start Poker Copilot)
  • did I mention that the HUD now works on mutiple tables at once?

Known problems:

  • charting by hands is still unavailable

You can run the EAP version without affecting Poker Copilot 1 at all.

Multi-table HUD demo

I had some fun putting together this demo this afternoon, showing the new multi-table HUD coming in Poker Copilot 2.