The following poker software tools are essential if you hope to compete with the other online regulars. They are using them, and if you don’t, then you’re going to be at a serious disadvantage!
First and foremost is your poker database. This is the single most important tool you will use. It will collect all of the hands you play and organize the information into tables and statistics. Then you can configure a “HUD” (part of the software) that will overlay the stats on your poker table window so that you can use it to get reads on your opponents while you play.
If you’re new to databases and HUDs then I highly recommend you watch my free 3-part video series on How to Setup your Poker HUD.
The other major benefit to a database like this is that you can thoroughly study your own game, searching for leaks and ways you can improve your win-rate. While there are other similar software databases out there, Hold’em Manager is definitely the easiest to install and has the most intuitive interface. It’s basically “plug and play”. And there are tons of valuable add-on features (like NoteCaddy) that provide plenty of room to grow into if you want to get really deep!
This is a range analysis tool. In poker, you should be putting your opponents on ranges and not just a single hand. A tool like this will help you visualize such ranges and help you translate the statistics (e.g. “opens 10% UTG”) into an actual set of hands. You can save your ranges, so it’s best to take the time to input your entire pre-flop strategy (opening hands, 3-bet hands, cold call, etc.) into the tool, so you can come back and tweak it when you need to. It also has a cool “save to image” feature so you can create charts for yourself to print and memorize, not to mention lots of other great features.
Where Combonator is great for quickly setting up and saving your preflop ranges, Flopzilla takes the next step and helps you analyze how those ranges connect with various flops (and turns and rivers). This is an invaluable tool for figuring out whether it’s profitable to c-bet bluff on certain board textures versus certain ranges. It breaks down the percentage of each type of hand (flush, straight, ace-high, etc.) that a range will make on a given board.
For more advanced players, you can use this tool to input your range and create a balanced postflop strategy. For example, when facing a c-bet, you can look at how many monsters are in your range to decide whether it’s enough to justify having a flop raising range. Or you could use the tool to divide up your range into a balanced range of bluffs, value hands and folds.