Best Poker Software and Tools for Ranges
Making the jump from micro-stakes to pro poker level, requires a deep understanding of ranges. You expand your perception beyond who has the better hand to who has the better range. Fortunately there are plenty of poker software tools to aid in this progression. You can click on the headers below to access the various poker tools I describe.
Also, here is a detailed description of the best poker sites to play on based on playing style.
Visualizing Hand Strength
Let’s start with the results of a fascinating personal project recently released by Chris Beaumont. He performed analysis on millions of poker hands to visually demonstrate the strength of a given poker hand compared to all other hands.
Try putting in different hands. Also notice that you can mouse over the graphs, and that each square contains all suited combinations. Each graph builds on the previous one, factoring in the frequency with which hands are played. One interesting observation he makes is that there may be a bias towards broadway cards that doesn’t directly line-up with the strength of those hands.
This is a standard must-have (and free) poker tool for running a range hot-cold against another range. You can also put in the board. While there are other tools like PokerStove and Combinator that offer similar features, I prefer Equilab because 1) it comes with some interesting default ranges, 2) you can save the ranges you build, 3) it has some quick selection keys to make range selection faster, and 4) you can copy and paste ranges from this tool to Flopzilla.
This is another must-have tool, though you do have to pay for this one. I use it all of the time both with my clients and for working on my own game. There are two primary ways I use it. I will enter my opponents range, input the flop, and then analyze how his range does versus my specific hand (e.g. how many straights, flushes, top pair, etc. he has.) This helps me determine for example if it is profitable for me to make a bluff continuation-bet. If you find yourself lost when reviewing a hand and not sure what to do, using a tool like this to delve deeper can often give you the answer.
The other way I use the tool is to put my range in, input the board, and build a complete strategy for how I’m going to play all parts of my range. For example, many players will continuation bet too often (versus other good players) on dry Ace high boards. While it’s true that you have a lot of fold equity versus weaker players, a stronger observant player can float you with any two cards if you bet too much. The solution then is to use a tool like Flopzilla and figure out which part of your range will be value bets, bluff bets, check-raises, check-calls, and check-folds (i.e. if you’re out of position).
Equity Distribution Visualization
The link to the tool is in the extras section (after you follow this link), perhaps a little tricky to find.
This tool by Will Tipton is simple to use but provides some power visualization results. It will show you using 2-d line graphs how one range stacks up against another, given a particular board. Again the modern advanced player should be well versed in assessing how his range compares to his opponents.
For example, suppose you open a 19% range in middle position. A reg calls you on the button. His cold calling range here is only 10%, but this range is missing the stronger portion (which he 3-bets). The flop comes down with Kh 9d 8s. Who has the better range? The answer is not so simple. While the hero’s better hands may be ahead of the villain’s, weaker sections of his range are much further behind. Here is the graph generated from the tool for this example. The black line is for the hero, and the blue line is for the villain.
Pro poker players spend hours every day using these tools. My flopzilla has over 50 saved poker ranges for all sorts of categories: open, cold call, call 4-bet, polarized, capped, merged, etc. The more time you spend working on your ranges in these tools and staring at the hand grids and frequencies, the better you will become at estimating range vs range strength while sitting at the table. It may be difficult at first, but eventually with continual, applied practice it will become second nature!
Please let me know if there are any other poker software tools you find very useful. You can share them in the comment section below. Also feel free to ask any questions about how these tools work, and I’ll do my best to respond.