Sneak Peek: StopLight 1.0

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

So the humble online poker color-coding tool we discussed a while back...

A regular player will face hundreds of thousands of opponents during his online poker career. Obviously, manually color-coding each opponent isn't really feasible unless you start doing it from the beginning. Even then, it's a pain. And what do you do a year down the road, when half of the players have changed their playing style?

What's needed is an automated color-coding tool.

...has come of age. I've been wanting a tool that can auto-generate tactical color codes and intelligent player notes from raw Hold'em Manager and PokerTracker data since approximately forever. I've also been wanting a tool that would allow me to view and edit large player notes files on Full Tilt and Poker Stars, since working with 90 megabytes of raw XML isn't exactly my idea of fun.

So I decided to build one. With a twist.

(Click to enlarge.)

We didn't want to make any assumptions about the games the user plays, the color scheme he prefers, his note-taking habits, his understanding of poker, his implicit assumptions about opponent categories, or anything else. So we captured that logic as a set of customizable human-readable rules. (By the way, the specific rule pictured below is for demonstration purposes only.)

Pretty nifty (though we're still tweaking). But not every player is comfortable authoring complex rulesets. Sometimes you just want to install an app, run it, click Start, and have it do something useful for you. In order to support that, I knew we'd have to package these rules in a way that would allow players to pick and choose from a variety of different rulesets, some of them built by the SL team, others built by the community.

The next step was to embed these rules into a standard, open file format (we chose XML), allowing rule files to be traded on the forums, exchanged over email, and downloaded from/uploaded to the StopLight repository. Similar to the way in which HUDs/statistics/auto-ratings/etc. can be traded between Hold'em Manager and PokerTracker users.

Speaking of Hold'em Manager and PokerTracker: the tool supports both databases transparently. You can apply a ruleset to any number of databases of either type. For that matter, you can use multiple rulesets. And multiple player notes files. One of our test scenarios looks like this:

  • 20 databases; 10 each of Hold'em Manager and Poker Tracker
  • 100 rule files; each containing 10 rules, each rule consisting of 5 conditions and 2 actions
  • 100 player note files; 50 each for Full Tilt and Poker Stars

StopLight does a pretty good job of making it easy to toss databases and player note files around on a whim, color-coding and annotating 90,000 players across however many note files and databases according to whatever rules. It's also easy to use, though: out of the box, without doing any setup or downloading any rule files, you can color-code and annotate your opponents with a single mouse click.

I had a lot of fun building this tool, and I expect to take a lot of flak from my geek buddies for its over-the-top gradients and shameless departure from standard OS look and feel.

StopLight will enter public beta shortly, and those of you who are interested, well, you can get your paws on it then. Thanks for stopping by!

Tags: Full Tilt, PokerStars, Hold'em Manager, PokerTracker, online poker, poker

35 comment(s)


I normally rant about apps that don't stick to the operating system theme. This is one of the best user interfaces I've seen in all of poker.

Well played, sir.

Only thing I would change would be the blue/gray background. I would like to see it in metallic black like the Tilt client or over on Stars.

Sweet, will it be free or does it cost $$$?

Looks really cool, and I'd use it, haven't told us much. What sites does it support? What OSes? Does it back up notes files before it touches them? What sort of conditions/actions can it do? Can it be scheduled? Will it overwrite existing notes and colors? How much does it cost?

For the Poker Sleuth HUD, I created some new technology for dealing with assigning colors to statistics (e.g., changing the background of the VPIP stat based on the value).

First, I set up Poker Sleuth to do color interpolation so you don't have to create a dozen rules in order to get a decent spectrum. The default settings use just 3 colors, but it will blend the colors for intermediate values of VPIP. (and I interpolate the colors in the CIELAB color space, which resembles how the human eye understands color (unlike the RGB color space), making for a very smooth spectrum).

Second, I model the distribution of a statistic across your opponents, which I use to convert statistics into percentiles. For example, if an opponent's VPIP is in the bottom 5th percentile of your opponents, it's going to show up red. If it's between the 5th and 15th percentiles, it's going to show up more orange, and as it gets closer to the 50th percentile, it will gradually become more green. Because the percentile is relative to your opponents, you don't need to manually create any rules based on the type of game that you play. Poker Sleuth figures it out.

(figuring out how to accurately modeling the distribution across opponents was a real pain in the butt - but the pay off was huge :-) )

Finally, Poker Sleuth calculates the accuracy of the statistic based on the number of data points available and blends the color toward gray if the accuracy is poor. That way, you don't have to look at the number of hands that you have on a player to figure out if the statistic is meaningful.

The color tells it all.

A bit more info and some screenshots are here:

I've been toying with the idea of adding a plug-in interface for Poker Sleuth so you can design your own GUI widgets to plug into the HUD (the HUD configuration tool is basically a wrapper around the same layout engine used by Visual C# when laying out a GUI).

Cool James... Awesome Work. Dig the name too. big question for me is can it generate notes+colors from PT3 auto-rate ratings... and when is it coming out?

Also like the look of Daniels tool, but am thinking these are two different tools, right? One is a HUD/companion tool, one is for generating notes/colors for PStars and FTilt? do they integrate?

James I sent you an email privately regarding this. The same email address I'm leaving here. Thanks!

I saw a thread on 2+2 about a new color-codnig app for HEM and PS/FT. Don't have the link now but... is this the same one?

Looks great James. Please add me to the beta test list if you have one.

If you care about the subset of pokerplayers who use linux, im willing to beta test in wine windows 'emulator' :) Looks great, man

Interested in doing beta....

This looks excellent, and may finally make categorising players effortless enough that I'll actually start game selecting. Hopefully someone more knowledgeable than me will create good rule-sets for 9, 18 and 27 man SNGs.

Sign me up for the beta, or however else I can get my hands on it nice and early. The only negative from my point of view is that I'll (presumably) have to go back to playing poker in Windows rather than Mac OS X...

Superb - as usual ! :-)

This looks amazing James. Can you give us a ballpark estimate for the release date of the public beta?

Will this be released as freeware or a commercial application? If so how much do you figure you'll be charging?


@Voyeurism You should be able to play on Mac OS X just fine still. The applications inputs appear to be a database, and the output is an XML notes file. You could allow remote connections and run the app on a windows machine (or even virtual machine) and then just copy the output file to your OS X machine and voila.

Oh my Flying Spaghetti Monster, I can tell I'll be having wet dreams about this application! Damn!

Awesome add me to the beta too plz. email attached. and you should sell this for $40 minimum $20 is giving it away.

Will we be updated on your progress though the email feed? This program looks like an extremely useful one and my anticipation is like a kid at Christmas.

BTW what's up with the shoes? :)

You are LITERALLY the best programmer who has shared his ideas and source code to the open public for free.

Jaaaames Can you delete any/all of the really annoying spam adverts?

on this site, is there anywhere explained how to access the pt3 or hm database with c++ or something?

Hey James, what's the hold up? Are we going to get a release??

Id also love to ask what GUI library you used to build that GUI.... Awesome!

How about adding a user generated dynamic spam filter in your comments section ala' youtube comments.

# Users thumbs down > 10 = SPAM

return: Hide | Delete SPAM

Looking forward to this. Will it be ready by Christmas? ;)

Will you ever post another entry, please?

I'm interested in the rules. How are they processed? Do you need to be a Prolog programmer to use them?

More trollish comments: I hate yer damn colors. No one should be able to choose their own colors.

Color Code Your Full Tilt & Poker Stars Notes In Less Than 10 Minutes With Poker Tracker 3… for free:

Is this blog dead? I really miss these postings.

Where do you download the trial?

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The stuff here is pretty cooiting skill and ability to make readers read from the beginning to the end. I would like to read newer posts and to share my thoughts with you.

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