Poker is a game based on maths and psychology, and at the casino tables, it’s all about reading your opponent’s tendencies and making effective bets.
While online poker is essentially the same game, it creates a slightly different scenario, because you’re up against opponents who you can’t see or make physical reads on.
Moreover, playing from your computer or mobile means that you have to keep your Wi-Fi strong and well connected. But the advantage is you’ll have access to technology and tools that you can use to improve your game.
It is quite easy to learn the basics of how to play poker, with many of the top platforms offering their own guides. However, the game has near-limitless potential for improvement, as even top pros who play for years still find minor flaws to work on. There’s always something to learn.
So, take a look at these top poker tools and technologies that can help you take your game to the next level:
Equilab is a very simple but effective tool for analyzing poker hands. It’s a calculator that tells you how much equity you have in a given poker situation (or your odds of winning a specific poker hand).
To use Equilab (or similar equity calculators), you enter your hand and your opponent’s hand into the software. The calculator will give you the corresponding equity percentages. You can also enter a range of hands, such as your AK against the top 10% of hands, add the hands of multiple opponents, and include community cards such as the flop, turn and river.
Using this tool will allow you to work out the odds for simple poker spots, and to gauge the percentages of more complex situations. Over time, you’ll learn these percentages off by heart, which translates to quicker and more mathematical decisions at the tables.
2. Poker HUD
To play effective poker, you have to work out your opponent’s tendencies. How do they play? Do they raise often pre-flop? Do they bluff? Are they quick to fold?
Players often make manual notes to remember the action of opponents. However, you won’t capture every detail this way.
Poker tracking software, such as Poker Tracker and HM3, uses your hand histories to present stats on each player so you can see exactly what they have done in previous hands. This is incredibly valuable information that will lead to more informed and profitable decisions.
You can also see your own stats. This can make you more aware of your image at the table, and help you understand your style and gaps in your play.
3. Poker training courses
Poker is a very complex game. It’s unlikely you’ll work out every nuance yourself, and it takes years of experience to become a top tier pro. So how can newer players ever catch up?
The answer lies in poker training courses. They are an excellent way to expand your knowledge and improve your strategy. If you find a decent course, you’ll receive structured advice, hand analysis, and lessons to improve your game, often from serious pros who have already done the hard work.
One of the most popular training courses is Upswing Poker, created by multi-time WSOP champion Doug Polk and other leading players and teachers. The course offers 250 hours of content split into 64 lessons and should be comprehensive enough to drag you well out of the realms of beginners.
Poker training courses are available directly through your mobile or web browser. Although you can find free training, like anything, the best ones cost money. Always look out for courses created by winning professionals who have trustworthy credentials.
4. ICMIZER 2
Now we’re getting to the more expert poker tools. ICM calculators are useful for poker tournament players who want to improve their late-game strategy.
The dynamics of poker change dramatically in the huge pay jumps later on in a tournament. At this point, the relative value of chip stacks changes in line with the chances of winning the actual cash prizes. This is known as the Independent Chip Model (ICM).
Short stacks stand to gain a lot from moving up the pay ladder, while medium stacks want to avoid confrontations that could see them bust first. This overall tightness often allows chip leaders to get aggressive and accumulate even more chips from weaker players.
This changes the mathematics of the game quite a lot. ICM calculates hand ranges not only on an equity basis but also according to the stack sizes of the remaining players and the payout structure of the tournament.
You can enter these details into the ICMIZER and solve pre-flop situations with ease when in the money of a tournament. Over time, you’ll have a much deeper understanding of how ICM affects tournament play. And this is the key to improving tournament win rates.
5. Can you use these tools while playing online?
The poker technology and tools mentioned here can be used on most well-established online poker sites. Some sites do not allow poker tracking software.
You should check the terms and conditions of each site before using any kind of poker software. You don’t want to commit to buying or downloading it and then not be able to use it.
But in nearly all cases, you’ll be able to take advantage of these tools to learn and improve on your game. For players who are serious about hitting the next level, this is the way to gain an edge in online poker.