We love playing poker, but we’re not so keen on online gambling sites of dubious legality. We’re equally wary of “play money” sites, where people play so loose and fast that you quickly develop terrible habits. If you take your newb game to a local card room, you’ll most likely walk out with a much lighter wallet. Indeed, it’s tough to find a good place to practice your Texas Hold’em game.
That’s where Poker Academy Pro 2.5 comes in. With hyper-advanced computer opponents, Poker Academy Pro gives you a place to hone your strategies that won’t cost you a cent, beyond the price of the game. You can test new maneuvers, tweak your play style, and perfect your tournament techniques without risking your bankroll.
PA Pro includes the most realistic, convincing bots we’ve played against. The game uses several “dumb” situational bots, which follow a fixed set of rules, as well as learning bots, which study your play style and adjust their strategies to take advantage of your weaknesses. The upshot is that PA Pro will challenge you more the more you play, and you’ll face a good mix of competent, crazy, and skilled players every time you load a table or tournament. Over time, you’ll learn how to exploit the bots’ strategies at the same time they adapt to yours. By pitting you against several different types of bots with a wide variety of strategies and skill levels, PA Pro succeeds where many other poker games fail. You can actually pick up skills and improve your game playing against these opponents.
Once you feel confident in your game, you can go online and play against other Poker Academy owners. While we don’t typically encourage playing for virtual money, because of the bad habits and loose calls it encourages, we make an exception for PA online. Because the people playing had to spend real cash to access the service, they’re playing to learn and to improve their real-world game (for the most part). In order to participate in the serious tournaments and ring games, you’ve got to buy in using Poker Academy Credits (PAX). The only way to get PAX is to finish in the money in one of the frequent “freeroll” no-limit tournaments. By using the PAX system, you can practice building and protecting your poker bankroll, just as you would with real cash.
But wait, there’s more! PA Pro keeps a detailed history of every hand you (and your opponents) play. With complete details—including winners, losers, bets, raises, folds, and the cards you see. In addition to tracking your bankroll and win/loss record over a long period of time, the app also analyzes your play, making it easy for you to tell if your actions line up with your intended strategy.
Month Reviewed: November 2006 + THE NUTS: Bots and online play provide good practice; your stats are tracked. - YOU'RE NUTS: Expensive; some bots are easily gamed. Verdict: 9 URL:www.poker-academy.com