Get Some Software to Improve Your Poker Game
With the boom in online poker, plenty of online poker software add-on tools that give you an edge have become available. Some of these are for use while you are playing. Others can be used for study sessions between games – or even to help you keep track of your wins or losses.
This page covers the most popular pro poker tools. Even if you prefer to play ‘by feel’, do read on. Many (if not most) of your opponents online will be using these tools – and knowing about them shows you what you are up against.
The 5 online poker tools covered below are:
Winning online poker players sit in multiple games. To keep track of opponents, most ‘grinders’ use heads up display tools. These will keep track of every hand you play – and build up profiles of your opponents.
The most popular options are Poker Tracker and Hold’em Manager. They work in very similar ways.
Here are some examples of the statistics you’ll have available. The more you use them, the more hands against individual opponents you will build up – giving you accurate reads you can use to make profitable decisions.
This is literally just the tip of the iceberg for the number of stats available. These are by position, and come with a ‘sample size’, to ensure you have enough hands on each player to justify your conclusion.
It should be clear that these statistics give you a huge edge. You’ll be able to pick out the novice players very quickly as their stats will diverge from those of the regular players.
One thing should be clear, these numbers are being collected by your opponents right now. They are being used to make decisions about how best to play against you – highlighting any weaknesses. If you want to take poker seriously, then a ‘HUD’ tool is a must.
In addition to collecting information on your opponents, these poker tools collate every hand that you play. This information can be displayed in graph form – tracking your profit per hand and per hour. It can also be used to spot weaknesses in your own play.
For example, you might look through your database and find out that you are losing money with Ace-Jack. Digging further, you might find you are losing from early position, and winning money when you have this hand in later position. You now have a choice to either look at your strategy, or to simply fold this hand from the first 2 positions at the table.
This is valuable information; pro poker players use it to fine tune their game – and improve their overall profits.
There are two types of tracking service – legitimate ones and ‘grey market’ ones. The first legitimate online poker tracking tool was Sharkscope. This collates tournament results. You can use it to look up your opponent’s one at a time – and see if you are playing against sharks or fish.
These days, the major sites have restricted tracking services – forcing an opt-in from individual players for full stats access. You can still get information on their ability, average buy-in and winning / losing streaks for free – with further information requiring a subscription.
This information is valuable if you reach a final table. Knowing which players are ‘out of their depth’ will give you a great idea of who to target (who might be scared of busting out!).
Grey markets have emerged where you can buy collated databases of hundreds of thousands of players. These databases work with Poker Tracker or Hold’em Manager. This is considered cheating, and highly unethical. I have mentioned them here for completeness – and the fact that some of your opponents may be buying these to have an edge on you.
A free set of tools which you can use away from the table lets you calculate equity in specific situations. The best known of this category was Poker Stove. This has since been replicated many times, with many popular websites having online versions.
There are several ways these poker tools can help you. First, you can calculate the chances of a specific hand against a possible range that your opponent might hold. For example, if you hold 9-9 and want to know how this does all-in against a range of 5-5+ A-8s+, A-Jo+ and QKs, then the numbers will pop up for you.
You will select ranges using a visual grid, which can help you visualise the kind of ranges people typically raise (or call) with. Specific odds situations, where money is already in the pot, can be combined with your equity (pre-flop or after) to give you ideas of how situations pan out.
The best time to use odds / range calculators is away from the tables. When you are reviewing your own hands to find improvements, having a calculator open enables you to see where you could have improved your wins (or cut your losses!).
ICM is an abbreviation for the ‘Independent Chip Mode’. This is a way of working out the value of everyone’s chip stack in the later stages of tournaments.
If you regularly play either Multi-Table Tournaments or Sit n Goes, you’ll be aware of the all-in or fold nature of the games in the later stages. What you might not be aware of is that having the best hand is not always a good reason to call. Even though you are ahead on ‘chip ev’, translating this into the prize pool equity you risk, compared to what you gain, gives a different result.
ICM calculators can assess hands you have played. They also let you change around hands, blinds and pot-sizes. That allows you to get to know common situations, giving you a real edge at the tables.
Even if you do not intend to use this math, you should take a look into the topic. The reason is that many of your opponents will be using this to decide on their actions. Once you know the reasoning, you can adjust based on the ranges they use for their all-in decisions.
If you are looking for a game in your local casino, then Bravo Poker is a useful app. This keeps track of the number of games running and waiting lists at all the major casino cardrooms in the US. You can even click a button to call a room and be put through to get on the waiting list before you travel.
Other online poker apps are used for tracking your wins, losses and hourly rates. Some even let you save hands quickly and easily for review later. They will build graphs over time, letting you see your profits slowly rise.
Using a calculator in a live game would not be permitted – though there is no reason you can’t save the information on a hand and use this to study and improve your game later on.
If you are playing poker online at anything above the micro-stakes, then investing in poker tools is no longer optional. HUD / Database tools like Poker Tracker and Hold’em Manager are being used by almost everyone that takes the game seriously. They give a huge edge, and without them you will be left guessing.
There are poker rooms that restrict the use of tools – or at least make them less effective. These include Bovada Poker and Ignition Poker. They have anonymous games, stopping trackers and database tools from tracking you for more than one session.
Tools can give you an edge in your study, as well as during play – check out the ones which work best for your experience level today!