During my discussions with other online poker players then it is difficult to talk to any pro or semi-pro that doesn’t use PokerStove to calculate hand equity and to assess ranges. PokerStove is one of the most remarkable pieces of poker software on the market for one important reason; it is totally free to use. Never in the history of online poker has one piece of software had so much impact that was totally free to the public.
Why pro’s need and use PokerStove?
As an advanced player then one of the first things that you should consider when you play a poker hand is equity. This is such an important factor that it basically overshadows all others. If we start with the very basic concept of hand selection then using the data that PokerStove provides helps us to see how equity underpins everything that we do in that area as well. For example let us say that you want to open raise from the cut-off and you have two hands to do it with and those two hands are 7-6s and 8-2o.
The extra percentage equity that 7-6s has gives it a huge edge against 8-2o. It can make straights and flushes and can win both big pots, medium sized pots and small pots. However if you play a hand like 8-2o then you are essentially playing almost 100% of your range. PokerStove will tell you this simply by clicking “Player 1” and then “pre-flop” followed by dragging the curser all the way across to the right until the hand 8-2o is highlighted.
In fact doing that reveals that you are probably raising 96.4% of your hands which essentially means that your range is incredibly unbalanced. This affects your ability to steal blinds and make successful post flop semi-bluffs because your aggression levels are too blatant.
All successful poker players understand two key concepts and these are how important it is to know the equity contained within your own hand against your opponents range and also the equity in your range versus your opponents range. Also your “all in” equity can allow you to see if your decision making processes are flawed. If you are losing money then an easy look at the equity in the situation can allow you to see if your wins or losses are down to luck or not.
If you think that your opponent has a 20% range from middle position when they raise then you can simply click on “Player 1” and then drag the cursor to 20% and this will allow you to see what sorts of hands your opponent is likely playing with. When coupled with tracking software and a decent sample size then you will have a good idea of your opponents range. If after say 3500 hands then your opponent has open raised with 20% of their hands then you can use PokerStove to see what that represents.
Let us say that your hand is Q-J and your opponent raises with 20% of their range, what should you do? Using the equity feature of PokerStove allows you to match up Q-J against a range of 20%. We run the simulation and the results are almost instant and we can see that our equity in this example is 41%. While this is relatively low against their range it does mean that the hand is playable and a call can be contemplated based on your equity against their range and you having positional advantage.
Where to get the software?
You can get PokerStove by just going to the normal PokerStove website or you can actually get the software from other poker sites equally as well but the most important thing is that you actually avail yourself of the software. PokerStove is actually one of the oldest pieces of poker software in existence and has been around since 2002.
As long as you don’t play too many tables then PokerStove can even be used in actual game play as well if you are very quick on the trigger and can skilfully use your time bank. I know players who are fast enough to compute equity versus their opponent’s likely range in actual game play and that means that PokerStove can be used in real time as well. However it is only when you comprehend the software and what it can do can you then even contemplate moving up to the middle limits.
Even players at the lower stakes games these days use PokerStove and you need to use it often enough so that the equity calculations against certain ranges becomes almost automatic. With enough practice and enough simulations behind you then you will start to get an almost instinctive feel for the results that you will get from inputting hand data. Quite simply PokerStove is one of the most effective pieces of poker software on the market at this time.
Written By: Carl “The Dean” Sampson – Poker author, writer and online poker pro