Publish: 2023-05-24 13:26:00
In this article, we try to debunk myths and the insecurity they imply towards tools in online poker. Professionals gain an edge on each part of the game, and this is also true when we talk about work outside of the tables. That's right; we'll talk about tools that improve your thinking process and strategy, not some kind of shady, fraudulent software use. Unfortunately, people often misunderstand the use of these tools, so let's get started.
The first group of software is EQ calculators. These tools are fundamental in understanding how much equity our hand has against another or a range of hands—a handy tool, even for beginners.
You can calculate, for example, if you have a top pair with AQ on QT2r how much EQ you have against your opponent's perceived range, containing sets, two-pairs, straight draws, etc., in a scenario where you need to decide on all the chips. For example, let's say they go all-in for $100 into a $200 pot. If you remember the pot odds calculation, you'll need 25% against Villain's range to make a break-even call.
This is how it looks in practice; you add your hand, the range of hands of your opponent, the board and hit calculate:
In our example, we have even more (37%) equity than necessary. But, of course, there is a strong possibility of error here. Namely, that beginners often miscalculate the perceived range of the other player. Although, thus, equity calculators are fundamental tools and help a basic understanding of how EQ work in different spots, you need to be thoughtful about the results and handle them with a grain of salt.
Several EQ calculators are available online, some for free and some for a reasonably low price. Prepaid software usually have some extra visualization tools but offer the same service. We’ll list some of them above;
The next group of tools is the tracking software. These programs have various functions and are much more complex than a simple EQ calculator.
One of the primary functions is to keep tracking your hands played. A great way to improve your game is to check spots where you were unsure, big pots or any often recurring spot.These software also keep useful statistics of all the players. You can study your own stats and, of course, your opponent’s stats as well. You can both improve your own game and find leaks in your opponent’s. Tracking programs also offer a live display of these stats at the table, called a Heads-up display (aka HUD).
The more extensive database you have, the better. More statistics will provide you with a better understanding of your opponent’s play. You need to be careful not to make significant adjustments based on small samples, but this is a topic for another day.
You can customize these tools for your needs; how big percentage of hands a player plays, how many times they 3-bet, post-flop statistics, how often they go to showdown, etc.
Note that some poker rooms don’t allow tracking software and HUDs while playing. Still, you can use these software to analyze and improve your game outside the tables.
Some of the most well-known programs are;
Tracking software usually provide a free trial or usage up to micro stakes. Besides that, they usually have a one-time purchase or a monthly cost, depending on your needs.
Of course, the outcome is so complex that no human can mimic these strategies. Thus, poker players usually try to simplify and understand the reasons behind the results. However, there are also caveats and limitations to studying with a poker solver. Such complexity limits the usage to only heads-up situations. Another pitfall is the „incorrect” input usage. The program calculates based on the input we wish. If there is a missing node (i.e. there is no option to raise, use different bet sizes, etc.), there is a mistake in the perceived ranges, etc., we’ll arrive at a very misleading result.
Why is this important? For example, you may use an online tool GTO Wizard where all the results are calculated according to the actual GTO inputs. But you wish to explore exploitative lines or simplify strategies with fewer bet sizes, anything of that nature. You might use another tool like PIOsolver or Simple Postflop to node lock certain characteristics. Anything you assume, perceived ranges will impact the outcome, ultimately opening yourself to faulty results.
Another misuse of solvers by beginners is to try to copy strategies offered there. They are way too complex and leave money at the table. However, in theory, you cannot be exploited; it is true the way back. Since your opponents will play far away from GTO, there is no need for such a defence. At the same time, you could win more by exploiting their mistakes, so the advice here is that solvers are great tools to study the game, but it takes time to understand profoundly and master them eventually.
Some well-known poker solvers are;
If you seriously want to improve your game, all these tools are essential. A basic understanding of equities is the fundamentals of poker, so playing around with EQ calculators is highly recommended. A tracking software will help you both in-game and outside the tables to study your own and your opponent’s play. Eventually, a next-level study is to use poker solvers to understand strategies in all kinds of situations.
You gain an edge on your opponents for a relatively small price by understanding the game better. We recommend starting with EQ calculators and free tools, and as you move up stakes (and have a more complex view on poker), you might need more advanced tools such as the solvers.
Good luck in improving your game to the next level!