Poker Software Programs
Poker software programs can help teach players much about how to play better poker. For example, poker software can provide sound mathematical advice on the following subjects:
- Pot odds
- Proper play in difficult situations (like the bubble in poker tournaments)
- Real-time stats on how their opponents play.
The information provided by these software programs can be profitable if used wisely. Some poker software is available free, and some poker software is priced at an average of $100 or less.
You don't have to win for long to win back a $100 piece of software.
On the other hand, truly great poker players learn to think for themselves. Our suggestion is to use poker software to supplement your thinking, not to replace it. This holds true no matter whether you're playing in a Texas holdem game or an Omaha poker game.
Poker HUD - Heads Up Display Software
One online poker software is called a "poker HUD". HUD is an acronym for "heads up display."
A heads up display is a poker program that collects hand histories and uses that information to display player stats based on the way they play. Some of the more popular stats include:
- Voluntarily put $ in pot (VPIP)
- Pre-flop raise (PFR)
- Donk bets
- Fold to c-bet
- C-bets on flop
- Aggression factor (AF)
You can choose which stats you would like to use while playing, and those stats will be displayed next to the name or avatar of each player at your table.
Poker HUDs are necessary for poker success. But the more tables that you play, the more inclined you should be to get one. Paying attention to one specific table can be hard to do for extended periods of time.
Two of the more notable poker HUD programs include PokerTracker and Hold'em Manager. Both offer free trials and cheaper versions for micro stakes players. More expensive licenses are available for higher stakes players.
Poker Data Mining Software
Poker data mining software mines for data, hand histories from the poker site of your choice, which is then uploaded to your poker HUD or poker table selection software program. These hand histories are extracted whether or not you even spend any time at the tables.
Some poker sites, like US poker sites Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars, forbid the use of such poker data mining software programs. Some of the more notable poker data mining software are developed by IdleMiner and Hand-Histories.com. This kind of software averages $50. (We just added a new article about poker databases that expands on this topic.)
Poker Auto Hot Key Software
Poker auto hot key software allows players to set up their keyboard to perform functions like raising, calling, folding, or cycling through tables.
This kind of of software is handy in multiple ways. The more tables you have running, the harder it is to get to all your tables using a mouse. Time saved by a poker auto hot key software program can be used to make better poker decisions.
Poker auto hot key scripts can be found on the Internet for little or no cost. Table Ninja is poker auto hot key software for PokerStars that is more advanced than most other softwares of this type. Table Ninja offers added options for cash games and sit n goes. I like how I can set up bet sizes based on the number of players in the pot and the blind sizes. Poker Ninja also has a convenient auto-register feature. Table Ninja is available at a two prices. The $35 version includes free updates for 6 months. The $60 version includes lifetime free updates.
Poker Table Selection Software
Poker table selection software programs find the softest poker games. They also avoid tables full of regulars. Some programs will put you on the wait list and auto-buy you in when a seat has opened up.
This type of poker software works best when you have a lot of hand histories for them to process. You either need to have tons of hands logged, or you need to play at a poker site which allows data mining.
Some of the more notable poker table selection programs include Poker Table Ratings (which is free) or Smart Buddy (which is $50 as a one time fee or $7.99 a month). If you have Hold'em Manager, you can sign up for their table scanner service, but it's also a fee-based service. (It's not included in the Hold'em Manager license.)
Poker Sit n Go and MTT Software
Poker Sit n Go and MTT software focuses on the proper way to play these games from an ICM standpoint. ICM stands for independent chip modeling, which is a strategy that determines how a player should act based on her equity. That equity is based on the number of players, stack sizes and blind sizes. These programs also help players make more effective plays during the bubble, which is the most profitable spot to play in a tournament.
Sit n Go Wizard is the most notable poker Sit n Go tournament software available. To use Sit n Go Wizard, you upload your hand histories, and SnG Wiz tells you what hands should've been folded or pushed based on the ICM criteria.
You can also change your opponent's ranges and stack sizes to see how these will affect your decisions in the future. Sit n Go Wiz costs $100, but it has a long trial period. Use the trial period wisely, and you could make enough money in winnings to pay for the program.
Other poker sit n go and MTT programs include Poker Push Bot and Tournament Shark.
We just published an article about how to select an Internet cardroom based on their sitngo software here.
Poker Odds Calculator Software
Poker odds calculators calculate pot odds, odds of making a specific hand, and odds of an opponent holding a certain hand. Some poker calculators take information based on an opponent's perceived range and calculate equity.
Many poker odds calculators are free. One of the best known programs is Poker Stove, a bare bones application where players enter hand information themselves. The software then does equity calculations and percentages for how good a hand is against a specific hand or range.
Other programs include Calculatem Pro, Hold'em Genius, and Poker Wingman. All of these have fees associated with them.
For more on this subject, be sure to read our article about poker outs calculators.
Internet Poker Software
Internet poker software is the software platform that Internet cardrooms use to host multiplayer poker games. Internet poker software on one site works similar to Internet poker software from another site. Some aspects of competing sites' softwares will even be identical.
But many sites offer unique software features that can improve your experience at the tables. You can learn more about specific Internet poker room software here: online cardrroom software reviews.
Internet Poker Skins
Before downloading an online cardroom's poker software, think about which poker room you want to play at. Most online poker rooms have superficial differences, like logos, colors and graphics. But underneath the "look and feel" of the site, sometimes the software that powers the room is identical to the software that powers another room.
These networks of poker sites using the same software are called "skins." Examples of poker skins include Carbon Poker, which is a skin of the Merge Gaming Network, and Doyle's Room, which is a skin of the Cake Poker Network.
Skins offer the exact same games, stakes and VIP programs as every other skin in the network. The only real difference between one skin and another skin is the size of the initial deposit bonuses. Deposit methods sometimes vary too. And some skins allow US players while others don't.
You usually can't even have two similar poker clients open at the same time (like Cake and Doyle's) because your computer will send you a message saying that the software is already in use.
Some poker skins are better than other skins on the same network. They might have better bonuses or more freerolls. Some skins offer better ongoing promotions or more deposit methods available.
On the other hand, some of the smaller skins are operating on a smaller budget, so they might not be able to afford the kind of exciting and lucrative promotions that larger rooms like Full Tilt or PokerStars offer.
Downloading Internet Poker Software
Most Internet poker sites will use at least one of the following 3 methods to get their software into your possession.
The most common method is a Windows compatible version that will not work on Mac computers without an emulator. Most poker sites' software downloads will work with Windows 95, 98, ME, NT 4, 2000, XP and Vista. File sizes vary depending on the room. For example, PokerStars is 9.29MB, Full Tilt is 30.7MB, Carbon Poker is 13.3MB, and Cake Poker is 12.8MB.
The other two methods are ideal for Mac users. Some sites, like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, have created compatible versions of their software for Mac players.
Some other poker sites use flash or java to play their poker games. These require no download, and you play from your browser. Bodog Poker and Party Poker offer flash versions of their poker rooms.
Once you have downloaded or opened up the site's software, you will then be prompted to fill out information about yourself including a screen name, your real name, phone number, address and password. After that has all been completed, you are taken to the site's lobby.
Internet Poker Site Lobbies
All Internet poker site lobbies do the same thing. They display the poker games available to play. Some sites offer additional features that make browsing the lobby easier and more convenient.
Bare bones Internet poker software lobbies, like Carbon Poker's lobby, feature tabs that tell you where to find the tournaments, sit n go's and cash games, but you have to scroll through what's available to find what you want. Some do offer a filter, which filters out what you don't want, so that you can find the things you do want faster.
But these filters on these basic lobbies aren't robust. You can find what you want, but not instantly. .
More robust poker site lobbies, like Full Tilt Poker's or PokerStars', offer extensive filters which makes navigating their large lobbies much easier. Full Tilt's filters will break down the stakes to the dollar amount that you want to play, the tournament variation you want/don't want to play (re-buys, KO's, shootouts, regular, etc), and what size table you want to play on. You even have the option to save different filters.
PokerStars offers similar filters, but they also provide you with the option to type in the dollar amount of the game you want to play.
Internet Poker Software In-Game
The biggest similarities and/or differences that you will find amongst Internet poker software are all of the in-game mechanics and features. Here is a list of what you can expect to find when playing with some features being offered only a certain rooms.
Random Number Generator (RNG): All gambling sites use a RNG to determine the outcome of the cards that are dealt, the spin of a slot machine, or the roll of the dice. There are two different kinds of RNGs: a pseudo-random number generator and a true random number generator. But only one of those two kinds of random number generators is used by reputable gambling sites.
A pseudo-random number generator (PRNG) is random for a certain set of numbers, but then it repeats itself. The size of this set of numbers is so large that it's impossible to find a pattern.
All reputable poker sites use a true random number generator (TRNG). A TRNG has no pattern and is completely random.
4-Color Deck: A 4-color deck turns a standard black and red card deck and turns it into a blue, red, black and green deck which makes spotting flushes easier. Most rooms have this as an option.
Display Pot/Bet Amount: This option displays how much is in the pot or how much has been bet by another player. Sites which don't have this option force you to hover your cursor over the chips to see the stack sizes and chip amounts. If you multitable, hovering your mouse is inconvenient.
Last Hand/History: The last hand or history feature makes it possible for players to look back at previous hands. Some sites offer this in raw hand history format, while others offer it in the form of a replayer which is tons easier to read. Most sites offer some kind of hand history feature. (We offer an article about poker hand statistics software which expands on this subject.)
Table Layout/Multi Tabling: With players playing more tables simultaneously, it only makes sense for poker sites to accommodate this. Some of the ways poker sites' software accommodate multitabling include:
- Enabling players to resize their tables
- Setting up certain layouts which get as many tables on the screen as possible
- Allowing users to save layouts based on how many tables and the kind of games.
You can multi table on most of the best real money poker sites but the number of tables you can play on at once will vary by site.
For example, Carbon Poker allows you to have 15 cash tables open at once, while PokerStars allows 24 cash tables to be open at once.
The most common ways Internet poker software lays out tables is to cascade or tile them. Cascading is where each table is stacked on the other but overlaps slightly. Tiling is where the tables line up to each other neatly like a floor of tiles.
Auto-Reload: An auto reload or top off feature makes sure that the player's stack is always at a certain dollar amount.
For example, if you are at a table where the minimum buy in is $5, you might want to make sure your chip stack never falls below $.50 of the minimum ($4.50). If it does, you can have it set up where your stack will automatically be topped off to $5 once your stack falls to $4.49 or below.
Note-taking: Most Internet poker software offers a way to take notes on your opponents. But some sites offer ways to take more detailed notes than other sites. Most sites offer a small box to take notes in with the ability to tag the box with the option to tag the box with a color. Other sites offer small icons to tag the box with such as a donkey, fish, clown, book or some other kind of meaningful icon.
Background/Table Image: An option that many sites offer is the ability to change the table, the background, or the backs of the cards. Sometimes this is just a solid color, but sometime it's as extensive as a full-scale background of your favorite location such as Vegas or the beach. Some 3rd party sites offer custom made backgrounds and tables for a small fee.
The Best Poker Software
The best poker software can help you play better poker. As far as we're concerned, these ten poker software programs are the top programs you could use. Some of them are free; some cost money. All of them can improve your game.
- Poker Stove is of the best pieces of free poker software that poker players can download. Poker players can and should learn the equity of each hand against a certain range of hands, and that's what Poker Stove specializes in. For example, plug in AA and pit it against a range of hands, say 50%, and you'll find that aces hold up ~ 85% of the time. This skill becomes critical when you start putting your opponents on various hand ranges.
- DD Poker 3 is a Texas holdem simulation where players can practice playing Texas holdem at their own pace against the AI (artificial intelligence). Players can choose to play heads up, full ring, or online against other real players free. Also available within this program is an odds calculator, an advisor (AI) to help you make decisions, and several setting options to tweak the kind of opponent you are and who you're playing against. DD Poker 3 also features a free poker clock that can be used for your home games.
- Poker Dominator is a poker tracking program that keeps track of all your poker sessions and the data from those sessions, like how much you make per hour, your average win-rate, how many sessions you've played, and how long you typically play. You can also track your live play and import information from PokerCharts or Poker Tracker. The 'bankroll location' allows you to create a beginning balance ledger for each location you play at and tracks your bankroll for each location as well as overall.
- Poker Wingman comes in two different versions, standard and pro. The pro version comes with a few extras but costs $39.99 (January 2010 price). The standard version is free to use. Poker Wingman is a Texas hold'em odds calculator that can be used both for free and real money play and is accepted at sites like PokerStars. In addition to the calculator, Poker Wingman also shows you how good your hand is compared to the best possible hands as well as tell you what they would recommend doing (raise, call, bet or fold). Poker Wingman is one of my favorite pieces of poker software.
- Popopop Replayer is my favorite hand replayer. Popopop is free to download and use. It's also super easy to use. Just upload a hand history or scan a folder of hand histories and you're on your way to reviewing your hands. I enjoy the feature at the bottom where the software shows you in two different colors what hands you lost money with and what hands you won money with. This makes reviewing your hands fast and painless since, you can skip to the most important hands of that session. Also, the Popopop Replayer also tells you the amount that's in the pot and your odds both in a percentage and in the form of a fraction. This is great because not everyone calculates odds in the same way.
- PokerTableRatings offers a whole mess of goodies to poker players. You can utilize their table selection tool to avoid playing at a table full of regulars, you can access their buddy finder to find the fish, and you can look up other players to see how good they are and how much they make.
- PokerTracker collects the hand histories from the games you play, analyzes the info, and displays various stats next to each player's name/avatar at the table. Some of the stats include an opponent's VPIP, their PFR, how often they C-Bet, and how often they fold to a C-Bet. These are only 4 of hundreds of stats you can collect on your opponents to use to make better decisions against them. In addition to the heads up display, Poker Tracker also has options such as hand replayera, table trackera, and ways to review past sessions. You can use graphs or reports, both of which can be filtered, to find exactly the game, stake or timeframe you want to view. Poker Tracker is free for 60 days and costs $45 to $90 depending on which version you need. (These prices are as of January 2010.)
- Sit n Go Wizard is one of the best poker software tools for a sit n go player. Sit N Go Wizard teaches the basics of independent chip modeling (ICM) and how it affects the hands you play in relation to what stage of the tournament or sit n go you are in, what your stack is like, your opponent's stack and how close you are to the money. SnG Wiz also has a neat feature that is in the form of a quiz. Choose the game you'd like to be quizzed on (choose from any major poker site, their standard sit n go game, and the payout structure) and answer questions based on chip stacks, hand ranges and where you are in the tournament. This is one of the best poker programs out there, and it's free for 30 days and will cost you $100 to purchase it once your trial is up. (These are the prices that are available as of January 2010.)
- Table Ninja - Although there are several free auto-hot key scripts (AHK), none of them will have the features that Table Ninja does. Table Ninja allows you to pre-set your keys for actions like raising, betting, folding, going all-in, and calling. In that respect, Table Ninja is like any other AHK, but you can also set predetermined raise/bet amounts, auto register for the games and stakes you play, and set the option for 'auto-refresh tab' which refreshes the info tab telling you where you are at in the tournament. In short, Table Ninja enables you to play more tables which should mean more profit for you. You can use TN free for 30 days and purchase the software for $60. (Those prices are accurate as of January 2010.)
- Shark Scope is a database of tournament and sit n go results for all major poker sites. You can visit Shark Scope and search for a specific player's stats for tournaments and sit n go's, and Shark Scope will display that information for you. The information you are provided with include how many games a player has completed, the average buy in of that game, how much they make on average, their ROI, and how much in profit they have made. All of this information can also be viewed in the form of line and bar graphs as well. Shark Scope allows all visitors (from the same IP address) a maximum of 5 searches free per day. These searches are also general searches which means you cannot filter for specific games, you can only see a player's overall stats. You can purchase "searches" however for a minimum of $9.99/200 searches, or choose from one of their monthly subscriptions that range from $11.99 a month to as much as $44.99 a month depending on how many searches you need. They do provide bulk discounts as well. (Like with all the prices on this page, these are accurate as of January 2010.)
We also recommend the following poker software resources: