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Important Tools for a Serious Poker Player

September 15th, 2015 by LD1977
Here are the poker tools you need for all formats.

Here are the poker tools you need for all formats.

In future articles, I plan to talk about various poker concepts. I will be referring to tools that I consider important, so I want to define them in this article before things start getting more technical. Hopefully, that will put us all on the same page from the start.

These tools are important for all poker formats (cash, SnG, MTTs etc.) although the way they are used slightly differs.

Tracking and Analysis Software

What does it do?

  • Records all hands you play (major tracking software works on all important sites), which allows the use of an HUD (heads up display) and database analysis

Why is it important?

  • HUD enables exploitation of opponents while multi-tabling (otherwise it would be impossible to track what everyone does)
  • Database analysis allows us to look into effectiveness of certain strategies and optimize our play against the entire player pool
  • It allows us to fix deficiencies in our own play (so others can’t exploit us)
  • All winning players use it, we can’t compete if we are always at severe informational disadvantage

This type of software is generally not free (if it is, there will be problems with support and resolving technical issues) but is very cheap for what it does.

If you can’t afford to buy it, it’s possible to simply juggle free trials (1 month per software) for a while and then eventually buy the best one. I certainly recommend buying a small stakes license.

I have earned enough in my first month of playing (starting from zero) to buy Holdem Manager 2 and have used it ever since, but other software should be OK too.

Look around and use the trials to see what is best for you.

Equity Calculator

What does it do?

  • Calculates hand vs hand, hand vs range, range vs range equity in various situations and on different boards
  • It is used away from tables as a practice and learning tool

Why is it important?

  • Allows us to learn very important typical situations (usually preflop and flop), which need to be played correctly since they are so frequent

I will be using screenshots from equity calculators a lot in future articles.

Behold the most lopsided pre-flop matchup in No Limit Hold’em

Behold the most lopsided pre-flop matchup in No Limit Hold’em

There are 2 good free applications I use and can recommend (have tried a few others but those were poorly made):

  • Poker Stove is an old program that is very simple to use, a bit hard to find these days but worth a mention.
  • Equilab is a more advanced tool that I use these days, it has a few very nice features that are useful for more advanced players.

Manual Note Taking

What does it do?

  • Technically nothing, you do all the work yourself.

Why is it important?

  • HUD is very nice, but when you have small hand samples notes can be more useful. Players in micros often do things that are unbalanced and very exploitable, but do not show up in the HUD.
  • Taking notes focuses you on the game and helps avoid tilt. When you get sucked out on by a bad player, you can make a note to exploit his mistake next time instead of just steaming about it.

Example: There is a player who I have noticed raising and stacking off flops when in position, always with flush draws but never with sets (he raised turn with those unless flush draw has arrived). I went and checked my database to be sure the note is correct.

After that it was very simple to always stack off flop when I had a hand with a significant edge against his flush draw (and correctly fold baby flush draws of my own) or simply call the raise and stack off turn correctly (via XR shove) if his flush draw missed. He never noticed the exploitation because nobody else picked up on his little habit.

I recommend taking notes inside the poker client and not inside the tracking software because it is the simplest way to do it and we can always access them. It is possible and advisable to back them up if we need to reinstall the software.

I currently use 5 different colors to mark 5 typical player types. When a player is colored but has no textual note, he is a typical example of his type or I don’t have any special reads on him.

This allows me to pick the correct default exploitative strategy quickly and reading the textual notes (when they exist) makes the strategy more precise.

This is how it looks in practice:

Every color signifies a player type. When the colored circle has a big “N”, there is a textual note attached.

Every color signifies a player type. When the colored circle has a big “N”, there is a textual note attached.

There is software that takes automatic notes, yet I have found that there are drawbacks (inflates database size, slows down the computer) and the benefits can be duplicated with a good HUD and manual notes.

I could talk more about each of these tools, but there is no need for information overload in a blog post. If people show interest, there might be special focused articles at a later date.

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4 Responses to “Important Tools for a Serious Poker Player”

  1. dakota-xx Says:

    This will come in handy for a lot of players!

  2. galliadi94 Says:

    Excellent serve me very helpful

  3. Tangie Says:

    Until I found this I thohugt I’d have to spend the day inside.

  4. Early Position Ranges Says:

    […] You can refer to a previous article for notes on this: https://www.cardschat.com/blog/important-tools-for-a-serious-poker-player/ […]

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