Online Poker Software
Aside from simply playing online poker as it is, you can use poker software to help you improve your game and your overall playing experience.
Have a read over the Texas Hold'em poker software FAQ below to find out more about the basic information behind using online poker software whilst you play.
Below the FAQ you can then find detailed information on the most popular types of poker software and how they can be used to help your game.
Poker software FAQ.
What exactly is poker software?
A number of companies have developed programs that will help you to improve your online poker game.
There are a variety of different programs that help you in different ways, ranging from software that will track your progress to help you find leaks to others that will help you make the best decisions at the table whilst you play.
Is poker software legal?
The vast majority of poker software is legal (all of the popular ones I know of are anyway). All of the software recommendations on this site are perfectly legal, so you should have no worries about getting into trouble if you use them.
Is it fair to use poker software?
Poker software doesn't do anything extraordinary to help you win money. Each program simply uses the information that is freely available at the tables to help you improve your game.
You could do this by working things out in your head or by recording data by hand - the software just makes this easier by doing the leg work for you.
It is fair to say that players who do not use programs such as PokerTracker are at a disadvantage to those that do, however, this software is available to anyone that wants to buy it and use it. I am very comfortable with using PokerTracker to help me improve my game and I do not see it as being unfair in any way.
Can I use poker software at any online poker room?
Most poker software tends to work with all of the big name poker rooms. The software may not be able to work with smaller networks or rooms due to compatibility issues, but if you stick to the most popular rooms you should be fine.
Programs that work off a central database of player information are often banned by major online poker rooms. However, none of the other software listed on this page works in this way and so the poker rooms are more than happy for players to use them.
Which poker software should I use?
There are two main types of software:
- Tracking software that tracks your every play and provides stats for you to work with.
- In game odds calculators that help you make the best decisions based on the odds.
Tracking software like PokerTracker is essential for any regular online player, so it would be fitting for beginner, intermediate and most definitely advanced players.
Poker tracking software is highly recommended for regular players who want to be able to plug leaks in their game. If you do not use this software, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage at the table - it's a simple as that.
This software will record every play you are your opponents make and display the data back to you in useful tables and graphs, highlighting key statistics about your game. The top 2 poker tracking programs are:
Which tracking software is best?
The current top two tracking programs are Poker Tracker (PT) and Holdem Manager (HEM).
My personal favourite is Poker Tracker. They are both on par is terms of features and usability, so you can't go wrong with either. However, Poker Tracker has a much more polished interface, and it runs a little faster than HEM from my experience. PT also has a Mac version too, which is immensely useful.
So it's an incredibly close call, but I slightly prefer PT. If you've already got a copy of HEM it's probably not worth switching, but if you've got the time it would be fun to check out PT to see what I mean about the sleeker design.
Overall, I would rate each piece of software as follows:
- PokerTracker 3 - 9.5/10
- HoldemManager -9/10
I would recommend that you give both PT and HEM a try with their free trials and see which one you prefer. You definitely need to be using software like this if you are a regular player, and fortunately you can't go wrong with either of them. Use the one you enjoy using the most and feel comfortable with.
Note: It's worth taking a look at which poker sites are supported by software like Poker Tracker. The majority are fine, but not all of them are fully compatible (with some being only partially compatible).
See the PokerBank tools section for more information and a full list of the tools.
- PokerStove - A free equity calculator (immensely handy).
- AutoHotKey (AHK) - A free open-source program that allows you to tweak poker rooms.
I rave about the little PokerStove program all the time. It is basically like an offline odds calculator that will calculate your equity in a hand based on your cards and your opponents cards (or range). Every player should use this tool.
This program allows you to automate stuff and create hotkey shortcuts. It wasn't designed specifically for online poker players, but the durability of the program means that it works very well with online poker clients and can really help you to improve your overall playing experience. It comes in most useful for multi-tabling.
Using AutoHotKey you can do handy things like:
- Automatically rebuy for the maximum at cash tables when your stack drops below the max.
- Use keyboard shortcuts to play or a gamepad controller.
- Automatically click on the "time bank" when you are running out of time.
- Lots of other handy stuff.
You can find a list of all these scripts at this AHK poker scripts page. Some are a little outdated, but there are still a few out there if you browse around.
Table Ninja is a very good script/program for PokerStars that gives you a lot of control over bet sizing and loads of other stuff. It works in the same way as the AHK scripts, but it doesn't require the use of AutoHotKey as it runs by itself.
Just check out the TableNinja site for a nice video of how it works and the big list of features.
Go back to the handy Texas Hold'em tools.