PokerStove Tutorial

By Gerald Hanks

PokerStove is a very handy poker odds calculator that is used to examine hold’em hand matchups and equity calculations. It’s a tool that every poker player should have on their computer – and thanks to the RPS consulting, the creators of this excellent tool, it’s completely free!

Just to be clear – PokerStove isn’t a tool that you’ll be using in the heat of battle. It’s something you should use after the smoke has cleared. You can then take the lessons learned away from the poker table, with the help of PokerStove, and make smarter decisions upon returning to the game.

If you’ve not done so already then visit pokerstove.com to download your free copy of the software. It doesn’t take up much room on your computer and is very simple to install, so you should have it up and running within minutes.

How Does PokerStove Work?

PokerStove allows you to enter an exact hand, a random hand, or a range of hands for the players involved. There’s room for inputting data for up to ten players, although most of the time you’ll probably only need to enter data for two or three players at a time.

Here’s an example showing the equity when we match-up a pair of Jacks versus a range of QQ+, AKs, AKo:

PokerStove

Upon pressing ‘evaluate’ the software quickly runs a simulation of millions of hands and displays the equity for each player. You can see that player 2 is a favourite in our example. The equity figure is also displayed using a color. The more green the color, the better the equity.

Hand Distribution

PokerStove offers a couple of ways of inputting player data. You can manually enter the hands of the players involved into the fields provided on the main screen. Alternatively you can click on the player number and another box will appear, just like this:

PokerStove card input screen

There are two tabs at the top of this screen; ‘cards’ and ‘preflop’. In the above example we’re on the ‘cards’ tab and we’ve selected the exact cards (ackc) for the chosen player. This method is generally used to select your cards, since you obviously know what they are. It can also be used if you happen to know the exact cards you opponent is holding.

As you should already know, in poker it’s important to put your opponent’s on a range of hands, not just two cards. It’s very easy to select a range of hands using the ‘preflop’ tab in PokerStove, as shown here:

PokerStove hand range input

There are pre-set buttons that you can use (i.e. ‘any pair’) or you can simply click on the most likely hands in your opponent’s range. The hands that are highlighted in yellow are the ones we have chosen. This means we’ve put our opponent on a range that includes any broadway hand, any suited ace, and pairs of 8′s or better. This represents 17.6% of all hands, as shown at the bottom of the screen.

The slider and data field at the bottom of the screen allows you to choose a percentage of the top hands. You can move the slider or enter the percentage into the field and the software will display which hands fit in the selected percentage.

Post-Flop Equity Calculations

PokerStove can do more than just pre-flop match-ups. It can also be used to determine your equity in a hand post-flop. You can enter the board cards and any exposed cards into PokerStove to see how the equity changes with each card. Here’s an example:

PokerStove hand match-up

Any board cards can be chosen and in the above example we’ve selected actd versus two opponent’s with random hands on a board showing adkhqs. To put players on a random hand simply click the “RD” button next to each player. Of course, most of the time you should be putting your opponents on a range of hands.

It’s important to note that the PokerStove calculations also include split pots. The output section at the bottom of the main screen shows the results. Here’s the output for the above example:

PokerStove output figures

As can be seen from the above output, in just over 6 seconds the software ran a huge number of simulations (966 million) to determine the results of our example situation.

Pot Equity and Pot Odds

PokerStove uses the concept of pot equity to determine whether or not calling a bet is the best strategy. For instance, if the player has a 35 percent chance of winning the hand, and the pot contained $1000, the player has $350 in equity in the pot. If the opponent’s all-in bet is less than $350, the equity in the pot makes this a profitable call, despite the odds that put the player at a disadvantage.

Pot odds and pot equity are similar concepts, but calculating pot equity is not as straightforward as figuring out pot odds. Since pot equity calculations rely heavily on putting an opponent on a range of hands, it will not be as reliable in determining how to proceed as pot odds. With the added dimension of putting an opponent on a hand, which can be highly difficult during stressful situations at the table, the equity analysis of PokerStove is to be used as a guide away from the table, rather than as a decision tool during play.

Conclusion

PokerStove is a very useful tool that every poker player can use away from the game to analyze a variety of situations. If you’ve not done so already then visit pokerstove.com and install the software. You will learn the true benefits of PokerStove by running your own simulations against the tendencies of real (or imagined) opponents and refining your strategic approach. PokerStove can help you understand the concept of pot equity and how it can affect those crucial betting decisions.

By Gerald Hanks

Gerald Hanks is from Houston Texas, and has been playing poker since 2002. He has played cash games and no-limit hold’em tournaments at live venues all over the United States.

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