If you’re serious about poker, there are a few must-have types of poker software / poker tools.
Whether you play online or live, these tools can help take your game to the next level so you can maximize your winnings and rise up in stakes.
In this article, I am going to review the three most important types of poker tools and poker software on the market. These include:
- Equity calculators for reviewing specific hands you play.
- Database software for tracking your hands and stats (as well as the hands and stats of your opponents).
- Solvers for in-depth poker studying.
I’ll go over the function of each type of poker software and share links to the best ones available.
These are relatively basic pieces of software, but their uses are powerful and fundamental to the game.
With an equity calculator, you can discover how much equity a hand (or a range of hands) has against another hand (or range of hands). This can be done as a preflop match up (e.g. AKo vs 55) or on a given board.
For example, suppose you’re holding A♥ A♣ on a J♠ 8♣ 3♦ flop and your opponent goes all-in for $100 into a $100 pot. Based on your pot odds, you need at least 33.3% equity to breakeven on a call.
After estimating your opponent’s range, you can use an equity calculator to find out if your hand has enough equity to call (I’ll use Equilab for this example). Let’s say you think his range for going all-in is a set, an open-ended straight draw, or a strong top pair (QJ+). Here’s what that range looks like when inputted into Equilab:
Now, you can input the board and your hand and run the calculation:
Looks like your aces have 65.32% equity versus the estimated range. That’s well above the 33.3% needed to breakeven, so this is a slam-dunk call.
Extra Features of Equity Calculators
Some equity calculators have other features as well.
Flopzilla, for example, automatically calculates how often a range will hit on the flop. In other words, it shows you exactly how frequently a specific range will flop top pair, middle pair, a straight draw, etc.
The above image comes from Flopzilla and demonstrates how much the given range connects with the board to make certain hands.
All in all, equity calculators are very useful, especially for new players. They give you the chance to develop an intuition of how much equity hands/ranges have in certain situations.
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Database software is the most powerful tool at your disposal. They have three main functions:
- Tracking hands you play.
- Calculating statistics.
- Offering a heads-up display (HUD) of your opponents’ statistics.
Database software provides the framework for your poker study, making them absolutely crucial for online players (assuming your site allows them). They make it easy to review your own play and discover leaks in your strategy.
Calculating you and your opponents’ statistics is another important feature of database software. By analyzing these stats, you can spot trends in your own strategy or your opponents’ strategies.
The other main function of trackers is the HUD (heads-up display), which displays your opponents’ stats while playing. This is probably the most misused functions of the three. Inexperienced HUD users often make big adjustments to their strategy based on very small samples of hands, which can lead to costly mistakes.
The numbers near each player in the photo above each represent a different stat, such as the percentage of the time that they raise preflop. You can customize the HUD to include whatever statistics you prefer.
Note: I recently wrote an article regarding the must-have statistics on your HUD. You can check it out here.
Solvers are the best way to learn about Game Theory Optimal (GTO) poker strategy. The first publicly available solver, PioSolver, which is also the most used, came out back in 2015. Their existance has drastically changed the way poker strategy is understood.
Solvers provide the user with Nash equilibrium strategies (called ‘solutions’) based on certain variables, which the user inputs. These inputs include:
- Preflop ranges involved
- Pot size
- Effective stack size
- Bet size(s) on flop, turn and river
- Raise size(s) on flop, turn and river
A solver basically does an enormous amount of simulations, trying out different strategies against each other, with the premise that each player knows the other player’s exact strategy.
This way, after a godly amount of calculations, the strategies reach equilibrium, meaning neither player can improve their strategy against the opposing strategy any further.
(Note that this doesn’t mean that this is the most profitable strategy against any player. If you know your opponent’s specific weaknesses, you can adjust the solver’s “GTO” strategy to win even more.)
An important feature of the solvers is the Nodelock function. This basically grants the user the power to freeze a certain strategy in a part of the game tree. The solver recalculates the appropriate response to that strategy. In other words, the Nodelock feature allows you to figure out how to adjust versus a player’s specific weaknesses.
On paper it would seem that a solver would grant a player a knowledge of an invincible strategy — the ultimate dream of many players. In practice, however, the solutions are very often extremely hard to follow due to hyper-mixing of decisions.
For example, check out this solver-generated range from a past article for an A♠ 8♦ 3♠ flop:
As you can see, every hand in the range checks some of the time and bets the rest of the time — all at seemingly arbitrary frequencies. These strategies are not reproducible by us humans — they’re just too complicated to memorize and execute.
However, they provide the user with some insight into what a strong strategy looks like in different situations. You can study the solver’s solutions in order to spot trends, which you can use to create a solid fundamental strategy, especially for flop situations.
Solvers have other powerful features as well, depending on which one you use, but all of them are mainly used in the way described above.
Final Thoughts on Poker Tools & Poker Software
If you want to play poker online and be competitive, these pieces of software will help you tremendously. Even if you only play live, you can use equity calculators and solvers to learn more about the game. I use all of them frequently and I wholeheartedly suggest you start using them too.
That’s all for now!
If you want some more information or recommendations about poker software feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below and I’ll do my best to answer.
Want to make sure you’re avoiding costly mistakes with the best hand in Hold’em? Read 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Playing Pocket Aces.
Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!
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