When it comes to the game of professional online poker, statistics and other types of information are the keys to learning the game and adjusting to specific types of players. There are two main aspects of poker software than can help you with this.
The first aspect is using data you collect to figure out your own weaknesses and improve your play in the general sense.
The second aspect is having information for your opponents displayed on the tables as you play to make it easier to compete against specific players. We want to recommend the best software titles here that will allow you to do both.
The most basic set of features for the most popular types of poker software are essentially the same. In general they all have the following functions:
1) They track your play from text-based hand histories that the poker rooms provide, and
2) They organize this information based on different statistics like how often you voluntarily put money into the pot pre-flop, how often you steal the blinds when you have the opportunity to do so and how often you make a continuation bet.
The key to figuring out which of the programs are going to work the best for you is to look at the features that set them apart and deciding which of those features are the most important to you.
There are several main programs available, and we're going to give you a brief overview of each one along with a general rating based on the features, usability and price.
PokerTracker - Rating: 10/10
Known as the grand-daddy of all poker software, it's no surprise that they are so far ahead of the vast majority of the competition. They are now in the fourth version of their software which made the interface significantly more intuitive. The main features that make PT4 stand out are the following:
- An automatic Leak Tracker to find where you are missing out on your potential.
- An automated note-taking feature to make it easy to find the biggest weaknesses of your opponents.
- Making reports to find lists of the weakest players you know of is simple and intuitive.
- Custom statistics are easier to create than ever with an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop GUI.
If you want to try out PokerTracker, then there is a 30-day free trial available here. They are so confident that they are going to help you to make more money that they are essentially giving away their product for free for a month. Chances are that you'll make more than enough in that month to pay for a license for this software, so there's no reason not to check it out if you don't already use it.
Holdem Manager - Rating: 9/10
The main competitor to PokerTracker is Holdem Manager. While there were some complaints that the first edition was a little crowded, they are currently in their second edition, and it's extremely impressive that they have made such big improvements in such a short amount of time. When compared to PT4, HM2 has the following advantages:
- A smoother interface that looks and feels much like Microsoft Office.
- More than 1,000 statistics out of the box which cuts down on the need to make custom statistics.
- The cost for holdem players is lower.
With that having been said, there are also a few relative disadvantages:
- It's designed primarily for larger hand databases, so if you don't play a lot of hands, then you miss out on some of the performance improvements.
- The default heads-up display is incredibly crowded and packed with a lot of information, so you will most likely want to slim it down or create your own HUD layout before you play.
- Adding Omaha support requires that you purchase an add-on.
However, these aren't real disadvantages in the truest sense of the word, so if you want to give Holdem Manager a try, go check out their 30-day free trial. All of your information will still be available after the trial ends, so you can keep your hands played even if you decide this program isn't for you.
Table selection is one of the most important things in today's tough cash games, and TableScan Turbo pairs up with either PokerTracker or Holdem Manager to make game selection easier. The basic idea is that they will scan the available tables and cross-reference the relevant information from your poker hands database to create a chart of the best and worst tables based on different statistics like how many fish are at the table and how many short-stacked players are sitting.
If you're wondering what the output looks like, it's a lot like this:
What's really cool is that this software has a special set of prices on top of their free 30 day trial. For micro-stakes players, the cost is just $19.95, and you'll easily earn that back in no time from playing against weaker competition.
Holdem Indicator - Rating: 8.5/10
If programs like PokerTracker or Holdem Manager seem overwhelming for you, then you will probably be a fan of Holdem Indicator instead. This program is designed around players who don't want to pay for a bunch of overly-complicated features that they will never use. Instead, it's all about helping you to analyze the cards on the board and the players you're facing on a basic, easy-to-understand level. Along these lines, here are the major features of this program:
- A simple table listing the most important statistics on your opponents that you need to make informed decisions.
- A pot odds calculator that's designed to give you the information you need and no useless statistics that just crowd your display.
- When any of your opponent's mucked cards are available after a hand, they are immediately shown on the table so that you don't have to go digging through hand histories to find out what they had.
- It's completely approved for use at all major online poker rooms.
For players who want to go with this smoother, easy-to-navigate program, you can get your free trial here.
The key thing that you need to realize when choosing a software program to help you with your play is that you don't have to give into peer pressure. Just because you see people using complicated database programs doesn't mean that you're going to be at a disadvantage if you go with a program that's easier to use and navigate.
However, if you go without any software assistance at all, then you will often find yourself at a bit of a disadvantage in most games in the modern online poker environment.