PokerStove functions as one of the best free tools you can use to learn the fundamental math behind Texas Hold’em. The simple equity calculator presented on PokerStove has been around for years, but even in 2020, it can be a valuable part of your study routine.
Here’s a quick look at what the time-tested PokerStove download has to offer:
Equity Calculations Made Easy
PokerStove’s no-frills setup allows you to set up different hands against each other and see the equities of each. The software allows you to plug in up to ten hands and/or ranges, and calculate how they stack up against each other.
You can check the equity of hands and ranges on all streets with PokerStove, including preflop, flop, and turn. The PokerStove download is free, with the biggest challenge coming with trying to find a clean download.
Once you have your free PokerStove download, however, the simple but effective tool performs many worthwhile functions.
Hand vs. Hand Equity
Input any Texas Hold’em hand, up to ten, and see what percentage of the time each one wins. A hand’s chance of winning is known as the equity of the hand, and understanding equity is one of the most crucial basic concepts of poker.
For example, if you’re holding a pocket pair like Q♣Q♥, you might want to know how that hand stacks up against A♣K♣. Let’s take a look at how to set up that calculation using PokerStove:
Clicking on the “Player 1” button brings up a matrix of possible hand combinations you can input for that player. Clicking on any of the other “Player” buttons allows you to choose a starting Texas Hold’em hand for that player.
In this example, Player 1 holds Q♣Q♥, and Player 2 has A♣K♣. The “Board” field in the top right of the display is empty, making this a preflop equity calculation. We’ll take a look at how to add cards to the board to calculate equity with the flop and/or turn on the board later in this article.
Once you’ve inputted the hands you want to look at, choose either “Enumerate All” (which calculates all possible runouts) or “Monte Carlo” (which offers a faster calculation but chooses random runouts to save time) and click “Evaluate”. It turns out Q♣Q♥ is about a 54.1% favorite over A♣K♣ preflop.
Range vs. Range
Texas Hold’em is a game of ranges, and as you get better you’ll learn to evaluate your opponent’s entire possible range in a given spot, versus putting them on a single hand. PokerStove allows you to see how ranges stack up against each other, and this concept is critical if you want to take your game to the next level.
To construct ranges for up to ten players, we once again want to start by clicking on the “Player 1” tab. That brings up these two options:
The menu on the left is what we use to make a hand vs. hand comparison as we discussed above. Clicking on the “Preflop” tab at the top left of that matrix switches to the menu on the right.
Clicking on any hand combination in the “Preflop” matrix adds that hand to the Player 1 range. For example, let’s say you want to know how a range of the top five pocket pairs (tens through aces) and ace-king stacks up against a range that includes all pocket pairs from 22 through 99:
The matrix on the left includes pocket pairs TT through AA, AKo, and AKs. Your selections are denoted in yellow, and clicking on “Apply” locks in your picks. The matrix on the right includes pocket pairs 22 through 99.
Click on “OK” to put the ranges in the PokerStove calculator. The notations for your chosen ranges will look like this:
When we calculate these two preflop ranges against each other, we see the TT through AA, AKo, AKs range wins about 69% of the time.
Ranges as a Percentage of Total Hand Combos
The slider at the bottom of the matrix allows you to look at ranges as a percentage of overall hand combos. Using this slider without inputting any hands will give you ranges that use the top hands available using the percentage you’ve inputted.
For example, if you use the slider to input 3.5% without putting in any ranges, PokerStove automatically gives you a range of 99+, AKs, and AKo. This is close but slightly different from our hand-selected range for Player 1 above, which also makes up 3.5% of all combos. PokerStove rounds down the percentage to 3.3% when you try to set the slider at 3.5%, and visually the range looks like this:
PokerStove allows for any combination of hands, ranges, and percentages to be pitted against each other and calculated.
All of the examples we looked at here are preflop equity calculations, but the “Board” display box at the top right of the screen allows you to input the flop and turn and see how the equities stack up with community cards on the board. The”Dead Cards” box allows for input of any cards that you know are out of play, such as an exposed card that you know is in the burn pile.
Where to Download PokerStove
It’s unfortunately somewhat of a challenge to find a bug-free download of PokerStove in 2020. A Google search for the software brings up numerous different places to find the PokerStove download, several of which will spam your computer with malware and other unwanted add-ons.
As of September 2020, however, this link will get you a clean, fast download of PokerStove without any other external programs going to your hard drive.