Why You Must Use Poker Stove (And How)

If there were only one tool that I could recommend to poker players, than my choice would be simple. I’d recommend the program Poker Stove. Poker Stove is simple to use, it’ll improve your game a ton and it’s free. The only thing you’ll spend is your time. And considering the amount of money you can make, your time should be an easy investment.

Let’s learn a little more about this cool tool, shall we?

What Exactly is Poker Stove?

Poker Stove is a calculator that tells you how well one hand will do verses another. However, since you can never put a player on a specific hand, the coolest part about Poker Stove is that you can see how well your hand does verses an opponent’s entire range of hands. For example, if you have A8s and think your opponent’s range is the top 20% of hands, Poker Stove will tell you that A8s has 47% equity.

Where Do You Use Poker Stove?

You’ll use the program itself away from the table, while you’re studying and reviewing hand histories. There isn’t enough time to input the hands and wait for an answer. However, you’ll use the knowledge you gain from Poker Stove in a couple different situations:

An Example of a Situation Where You’d Use Poker Stove

I’m going to show you an example of how to use Poker Stove.

Say I’m  playing in a SNG. I am in the big blind with KTs and 5,000 chips at 100/200/50. After everyone has posted the antes and blinds, there is 750 in the pot.

Everyone folds to the cutoff who has 1600 left. He shoves, the button and small blind fold, and it’s now on me to act. The first thing I do is put him on a range. Since he’s in the cutoff with a short stack, I’m going to say he’s pretty wide. I would put him on any pair, JT/QT/K9/A7+ — about 23% of hands. Run this in Poker Stove and you’ll see that KTs has 46% equity verses this range.

The next step is to figure out our pot odds. The cutoff is shoving 1600, making the total pot 2350. Since I already have 200 invested, I only need to call 1400 more to win 2350. That means I’m getting 1.7 to 1 pot odds, or 37%.

Now that we know our equity and pot odds, we can determine if a call is profitable or not. There is some math involved, and I don’t want to write it all out — and you don’t *need* to know it anyway. All you need to know is that if the pot odds are less than your equity in the hand, it’s profitable and if it’s more, it’s not. The larger the margin, the more (un)profitable it is.

So in my example, I can make the call with KTs.

Tips for Learning Equities with Poker Stove

Since there isn’t enough time to use Poker Stove while playing, you’ll have to memorize equities. To finish the article off, I thought I’d provide you with some tips to help you do that.

  1. Look for patterns. One pattern that I know of is taking a pocket pair verses 100% of hands. Each pocket pair, starting with pocket 22s, will increase in equity about 3%. For example, 22s vs. 100% equals 50.3, 33s vs. 100% equals 53.6% and 44s vs. 100% equals 54% and so on.
Another pattern I found is a 20% drop in equity from a pocket pair to the highest unmade hand. In other words, AA has 86% equity vs. 100% of hands, but Ak has only 65% equity vs. 100% of hands. All pairs have about 20% more equity than their highest unmade hand. Equity will drop (Ak, Aq, Aj, etc) at the rate of 1-3%.
  1. Focus on popular hands or common situations. Don’t worry (yet) about how much equity 87s has against JTo. Instead, focus on how much equity KQs has against 10% of hands, or how much equity Ak has verses two players with 20% ranges. These are situations that you’ll be in more, so spend more time memorizing these.
  1. Make flashcards. I created flash cards to learn what hands 20% or 30% of hands represented. Dorky, I know. It takes a lot of time too. It’s so worth it though.
  1. Memorize pot odd percentages. This will help you to become faster at the tables. The pot odd percentages I suggest you memorize include: 2 to 1 (33%), 1.5 to 1 (40%) and 1 to 1 (50%). If you know these, it’s easy to make an educated guess if you have pot odds of 1.7 to 1 or 2.3 to 1. You don’t have to be perfect either, just as close as possible.