If you want to make it as a poker player, you will have to invest in poker tools. That’s according to Canadian poker legend Daniel “Kid Poker” Negreanu, whose six World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets and 36 final table appearances certainly qualify him to comment on the matter. His career began long before poker software and algorithms existed, so he’s seen how the game has evolved beyond all recognition. Unlike players 20 years ago, today’s up-and-coming online poker stars use tools that provide hard proof of the correct plays for various situations. These poker tools allow for continuous self-improvement, with the result that former stars who learned how to play poker 20 years ago are left behind. As Negreanu said in an interview with CBS’ Bill Reiter, “The game will always continue to evolve and improve in terms of the quality of players, but if you don’t study as well, you’re very likely to be surpassed by the young up-and-comers.”
With that in mind, let’s look at some of the top poker tools on the market right now.
Your first port of call if you want to learn how to play poker with skill is a poker tracking program. After every hand of online poker that you play, the poker room provides hand history files containing information such as player names, time, date, stack sizes, and action in the hand. Poker trackers process the raw files to create information that you can use to study your opponents and learn more about the game. A good poker tracker typically has an HUD (heads up display), which allows you to place tracking information besides an opponent’s name at the table. Trackers also have filters so you can examine specific scenarios and analyze your results.
One of the top professional poker tracking programs out there right now is Hold’em Manager 2 (HM2.) In addition to customizable opponent analysis and HUD options, this poker tool comes with cash reports that keep you aware of your upswings and downswings, and integrated statistical tools that enable you to calculate your likely win rate, equity value (EV), rakeback and multi-tabling performance.
HM2’s main competition is PokerTracker 4 (PT4,) which is equipped with the Vector HUD real-time tracking and recording engine. You can apply filters to show the current table or all-time statistics, player hands, blinds, and more. Analyze your play and money management with interactive reports, charts, filters, review reports, and charts related to player leaks, hand ranges, and money flow. PT4’s hand export options support all the best online poker sites for US players, and its expanding player database allows you to scan tables for profit.
Game Theory Optimal (GTO) solvers are designed to help you develop unexploitable poker strategies. These powerful pieces of software go through millions of combinations to generate optimal decisions for pre-selected situations. These insights can help you answer questions such as whether to play passively or aggressively, the right amount to c-bet on the flop against a specific opponent, which cards to double barrel on the turn, when to overbet the river, and many more. You can get optimal results for any situation you can imagine.
GTO solvers do have their limitations, the chief one being that you can only use them for heads-up situations, but they’re invaluable (if expensive) long-term strategy tools that can help you raise your game to a much higher level. PioSOLVER, GTO Range Builder, and SimplePostflop are the most popular GTO solvers right now.