Poker Software Revealed with Ben Jenkins

Date: 2015-12-23
Author: Jason Glatzer

We sat down with Full Tilt Ambassador and British poker player Ben Jenkins to learn how he got into poker and about his use of poker software.  Jenkins has over $1.7 million in online tournament cashes according to, with about two-thirds of it coming on PokerStars, where he plays under the "gs08bjohnson" screenname.

PokerSoftware:  How did you get into poker?

Ben Jenkins: Back when I was 16, my friends and I began watching the first airings of "Late Night Poker." These starred Devilfish, Hellmuth, and the Hendon Mob - some real characters. Most of us had a strong math background, I had grown up playing a lot of games, and poker instantly appealed.

We would start playing the odd game in the common room at school during lunch hours and free periods. I either ran really hot in these games or just understood what was going on better than most of my friends since I was regularly heading home with a pocketful of change.

We played a lot and by the time I reached 18, I was keen to head to a casino. Fortunately for me, I definitely ran really well to begin with and chopped the first small tournament, a £10 or £20 re-buy, that I played, and I was hooked.

When online poker began to take off, I deposited $50 and played low-stakes games until eventually I spun it up to several thousand and was making more money from this then I was in my gap-year bar job, which I quit to focus on getting better at poker. I wasn't making more than a few hundred dollars a week, though, and so I happily went off to university.

However, I ended up spending far more time studying poker than I did history and although I graduated, I didn't bother looking for jobs afterwards, as I was making far more money and having way more fun playing poker than I would have done working in the city, which really didn't appeal to me.

PokerSoftware:  How did you become a Full Tilt Ambassador?  What are the perks?

Ben Jenkins: Essentially, I got really lucky. There are tons of good poker players in the UK and most of them are great guys who would make fantastic ambassadors. I was fortunate enough to have been in the right places at the right times and one day received a phone call. Full Tilt has given me some great opportunities to travel and I have met some exceptional people I probably wouldn't have otherwise done. That has been the biggest perk in my opinion.

PokerSoftware:  When did you start using third-party poker software?  What was the first program you used and how was your experience?

Ben Jenkins: I would say from pretty early on and I've switched between PokerTracker and Hold'em Manager as each has improved. I've always found the programs helpful, but never spent the time to really go into too much depth. Initially, they can be a little confusing and you have to put the work in to understand them. I think a lot of people still misuse them.

PokerSoftware: What poker software are you using now?

Ben Jenkins: I currently use PokerTracker 4. I prefer the interface of Hold'em Manager, but it is too demanding on the hardware and I don't want to be buying a new computer every six months.

PokerSoftware: How is your HUD set up line by line?

Ben Jenkins: I use a pretty simple HUD, the usual VPIP/PFR/3-bet on the top line, positional raise first in stats across the second, and then a c-bet, turn c-bet, and fold to c-bet along the third. I occasionally go into the pop-up to look at 3-bet vs or by position, but that's about it.

PokerSoftware: How important is your HUD to your game?

Ben Jenkins: As a tournament player, I don't think HUDs are really that important. I would say the biggest positive for me regarding them is that they enable me to play slightly more tables without losing track of who is who and roughly what people are doing.

I think note-taking is far more important, as players can have very similar HUD stats while playing completely different styles. If you can get a handle on a tournament player's outlook - how they approach the game - it's far more valuable.

I have never configured my HUD to change depending on how many big blinds people have and so the stats I have on some players can be very misleading. I know many players who I would consider a maniac in the late stages and incredibly tight pre-ante and most HUD setups cannot tell you this information. I think a lot of people worry too much about the impact of HUDs in tournaments. I know a lot of tournament players and very few of them use a complicated HUD setup. I can think of several who don't use a HUD at all and still been very successful.

PokerSoftware: Do you think HUDs should be allowed?  Should there be a limit on them?

Ben Jenkins: I think it's a very tough question and honestly I am not sure. I think I would feel very neutrally about it if they were to go. They are a very distinguishing feature between live and online poker. They increase the strategy element in poker and I like that. Of course, they should never be allowed to be more than an information resource. Once they become interactive and begin suggesting actions to players based on the information given, then they are crossing a line. This is something the poker sites should be keen to monitor and I know Full Tilt spends a lot of time and resources ensuring that game integrity is maintained, a task I believe they do well.

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