PokerStove – Full Poker Software Guide 2024
Discover how to improve your poker game with this calculator tool.
- Written by the CardsChat Editorial Team
What is PokerStove?
PokerStove is a free piece of software that allows you to calculate equity in Texas Hold’em poker. Punch the hands in for the respective players and PokerStove will quickly evaluate the pre-flop odds, showing you whether your hand is a favorite or not.
Sound a little like a poker odds calculator? It can be used in a similar way, but where PokerStove really shines is that it allows you to work with ranges of cards as well as specific holdings.
So while an odds calculator can tell you the mathematical odds of 8-9s beating pocket aces, for instance, a range calculator like PokerStove could give you your equity holding 8-9s versus a percentage of a player’s range (for example, the top 10% of starting hands they play).
How To Use PokerStove
PokerStove is a program for calculating hot-and-cold equity, providing your exact chance of winning a certain hand at showdown. It’s a program that you download and run directly on your computer, as opposed to online odds calculators, which means it will generally work a lot faster.
It’s a very useful tool for analyzing hands and situations away from the tables, and allows you to specify a number of variables in order to recreate or simulate specific situations. Your cards, your opponents’ cards, their range of potential holdings, board cards and dead cards can all be individually tweaked to set up the exact scenario you wish to explore.
For instance, let’s say the player UTG raises in a 6-max limit ring game, and you call from the BB with JsTs. How are you doing on a flop of Jh-7s-7d?
The answer will depend on your opponent. Let’s break them down into four different styles of player:
- A: very tight (raises 3% of hands UTG)
- B: average (raises 10% of hands UTG)
- C: loose/aggressive (raises 20% of hands UTG), or
- D: maniac (raises at least 50% of hands UTG)
Using PokerStove you can enter these ranges, plus your exact hand and this exact flop, to find your chances of winning vs. each respective type of opponent:
- A: 41%
- B: 61%
- C: 67%
- D: 73%
This is known as your hot-and-cold equity, and understanding this value is a great first step in being able to figure out the best course of action. Whether you should call or raise the flop in this example can be debated, but at the very least you can establish that you shouldn’t fold, at least not on the flop.
Selecting a Range for an Opponent
It’s rare that we can put an opponent on a specific two-card combination, but narrowing down their range, or ‘Hand Distribution’, is something you should be doing constantly. And with PokerStove, a little knowledge of your opponent’s range can go a long way.
There are a few different ways of setting your opponent’s range, the easiest one is to just type in a percentage of hands they would play. For example, if you know from PokerTracker that your opponent raises pre-flop with 10% of hands in this position, you can input that 10% as their range.
PokerStove can convert that 10% to a range, generally taking in 77+, A9s+, KTs+, QTs+, AJo+ and KQo (“77+” means any pocket pair 77 and higher, “KTs+” means any suited king, with a ten or better kicker, and so on).
It’s also possible to enter a range of hands manually, as not all players think the same way. You can even adjust the range that PokerStove suggests after you give it a percentage, adding or removing hands that you believe an opponent would or wouldn’t play.
“Enumerate All” vs. “Monte Carlo”
PokerStove doesn’t calculate, it simulates. So when you run the software, it will pit the hands and ranges you entered, on the board that you put in (if any), randomize all the unknown variables many times, and tell you how often on average the different players win. There are two ways it can do this, which are selectable in the PokerStove interface:
“Enumerate all” goes through every possible combination. For some scenarios this is very fast since there are only a few possible combinations. Most cases involving only two players take mere fractions of a second to calculate. When you have three or more players involved in a pot, the number of possible cases grows exponentially, and it may take a long time for the program to run every single combination of possibilities.
That’s when using the “Monte Carlo” option comes in handy, as it randomizes the simulations. This means that instead of following a pattern and grinding its way through every possible holding, it will randomly run simulation after simulation. As computers are so fast, a huge number of samples (millions) can be simulated in around a second. This method is substituting precision for speed, but if left to run for a while it will quickly stabilize towards the true value.
How Often Do They Have X?
A cool trick with PokerStove is finding out the likelihood of a certain type of hand.
This is done by putting in your opponent’s standard range, and from there selecting your own cards in a way that makes your hand just one step weaker than the hand you’re interested in. Sound complicated? Let’s look at an example.
Let’s say you want to know how often your opponent holds specifically A-A. Firstly, specify a board that doesn’t otherwise interfere with their holdings, for instance removing all hands that contain deuces and threes from their range and composing a board of 2-2-2-3-3. Give yourself K-K so that only A-A could beat you in this situation, then run the simulation. The percentage of times they beat you, they will have A-A.
In terms of hand analysis, especially in a poker forum like CardsChat, it’s invaluable to be able to reduce a problem to a matter of what you think your opponent’s range is.
Advice is often given by people who guess what the villain in the hand has, and then guess what your chances of winning are, and then guess what the best course of action is. Since the margin of error grows exponentially with every new operation that has an innate error, doing three operations with large margins of error means that the end result probably isn’t reliable.
Being able to reduce (and almost completely remove) the margin of error for some of these operations is awesome. If you know your opponent will always shove with A-A, K-K, Q-Q, A-Ks/A-Ko and J-J after being re-raised preflop, you can input the numbers to PokerStove and get the correct answer for what to do. No more guessing.
It’s much easier to use PokerStove for offline analysis and study, rather than when you’re in the middle of a game. Recall a tricky situation, crunch the numbers on PokerStove and remember the outcome. Every time that happens, you become a stronger player.
How good IS J-Ts versus A-A? What if you flop a pair? If your opponent defends their big blind 40% of the time, how bad shape are you in if they call when you raise on the button with J5s?
With PokerStove, the only thing you need to find these things out is a PC.