Being aware of the strength of your hand, in relation to what your opponent is holding, is an essential part of playing profitable poker. After all, it is the strength of your hand that determines how much you can bet, raise or call, or whether it makes more sense to lay your hand down. Calculating exactly what the odds are of your hand holding up against your opponent’s is not always an easy task, but thankfully, there are programs to take care of this for you.
PokerStove is probably the best odds calculator for Texas Holdem to be found online. While there are countless programs on the web that are designed to calculate your hand equity, the majority require you to know the exact cards your opponent is holding. While many poker players may have been in a situation every now and then where they were able to read an opponent’s hand perfectly, no poker player in the world, not even Phil Ivey, is able to do this all the time. The more realistic option is putting your opponent on a range of hands and calculate your odds based on this range, which is exactly what PokerStove enables you to do.
Let’s say you get dealt QsQc, you raise, and the player to your left goes all-in. You know this player is relatively tight and would only make such a move with JJ+ and AK+, so by entering your hand and all the hands included in your opponent’s range into the PokerStove program, you will find out that you have a 47% chance of winning the hand against your opponent’s range, should you decide to call. Even if you can’t decide on an exact range for your opponent, you can simply tell the program that you believe this player will call with, let’s say, the top 5% of all hands, and PokerStove will automatically enter all the possible hands that fall into this range.
Although PokerStove is a very sophisticated program and easy to use, we would not recommend using it while playing at the table, because chances are your timebank will be used up by the time you have entered all the data. However, it is a great tool to analyze some big hands you played after a session is over, to see whether or not you made the correct call or laydown, and it can also be fun to simply play around with. Oh, and did we mention the PokerStove software is absolutely FREE to download!