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How to use PokerStove

Friday, 05 February 2010 07:41 Art Sook
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PokerStove is a Texas Holdem hand poker calculator. Simply put, it will tell you how well your hole cards stand up against your opponent’s hole cards or his range. It is the latter that really makes this small free program so invaluable. During live play, or post hand analysis, we do not often get to see our opponent’s hole cards, unless there was a showdown. For this reason, the common practice should be to put your opponents on a range of hands. This is where PokerStove can really help. So let’s explore the programs interface, and become familiar with its functionality.


As you can see, PokerStove is very simple in its format. On the extreme left, we have up to 10 unknown players listed. For now, we will ignore the RD button next to it. By clicking on Player1 we are brought to the Hold'em Distribution table where we can select our hole cards. We will assign ourselves AA...


Selected cards will show a yellow background regardless of what suite they are. Here we have given ourselves Ac Ad. Clicking the OK button at the bottom of the screen, we return to the main program, where we will assign Kc Kd to the villain.

Applying pre-flop hand ranges to your opponent.


Now that you are familiar with the basics of inputting your data, we can now look at ranges, and how we can assign them to our opponents to better reflect real life situations. Having already assigned ourselves AA, we will now assign our opponent a range, but this time by selecting the Preflop tab (1) on the Hold’em Distribution table.


The next step is to prompt the program to evaluate our equity. By selecting the Evaluation button (1), PokerStove you give you an output.

Notice that the Equity percentages are colored (2). Green is used to represent positive equity, and red being a negative equity. In other simulations, you may see a yellow number. This represents a break even equity.

Note that we have an output box at the bottom of the screen where text is used (3). In this example, the program ran 1,712,304 simulations, in just a split second. Since we did not input any Board cards, or Dead cards, this information is blank. Hand 0 represents your Aces, and Hand 1 the Kings. The second column is your equity, followed by your win rate. In most cases, these two numbers will be very close. This is just stating that the chances of a tie or split pot are small.

As you can see, we are given a number of ways to place our opponent on a range. Look to the right and first on the list is SHIFT,CTRL,ALT. By holding down these hot-keys, and selecting any single button, we will get all combinations of any two cards.

For example, if I select J4o it would look like this:


Notice that our selection is in purple. This will always tell you what you have selected. The remaining options are self-evident, and are referred to as presets.

In addition to use hot-keys and preset buttons, we can also type in a specific range. Let’s say that you are playing a tournament, and Player2 has been at your table for a while. You have enough hands on him that you see that he has a VP$IP of 35%. Looking to the bottom of the Hand Distribution table, we see a slider and a text box to its right. Simply place your cursor in the text box (1) and type in 35.


The entire range is now highlighted in purple. By clicking OK, you will return to the main program, where every combination is listed in the text box. So lets run through some examples of how you can use PokerStove.



You can even use your mouse to select all, copy and paste to notepad, or any word processor if you want to see them more clearly.

Another way to select your opponents’ range is to use the slider, by simply dragging it with your mouse to anywhere along the scale. This feature becomes useful if for example, you have been watching and making notes on what cards your opponent is turning up at showdown. In this case you don’t necessarily want a VP$IP, but rather a selection that best suites how your opponent is playing. Once you have the range covered, you then may want to hold down the shift key and use your mouse to deselect certain cards from the list.

Following these methods you can virtually select any combination you want. Click OK and run the analysis.

During Game Play


One simple method is to have the Hand Distribution Preflop tab open while your playing. Many times we will not be involved in a hand and this gives us an opportunity to survey the field. Begin typing in VP$IP ranges for different players at your table.


Of course this becomes valuable information when it comes time for battle and you need to make a decision on how to proceed. For example, you notice the opponent to your left has raised. His VP$IP is 10%, and his raising range is 5%. Our opponent here is raising 99+,AJs+,KQs,AKos. Using PokerStove in this way is a great method of improving your ability to read player’s ranges.

Post Game Analysis

Many times though, you will not have time to input data to help you make decisions. That is where post hand analysis becomes so important. The more we practice this discipline, the better prepared we are during game play, either live or online. By running numerous hand simulations we will gain a familiarity to how certain cards stand up.

Hero is in the BB with TcTs, and has been watching the other players very closely. UTG shoves his short stack all in. UTG2 calls, and the Button calls. Hero now shoves all in. Both remaining players likewise shove all in. Our hero made his decision based on his reads of the players. The Shorty will have any two cards (ATC), and the two original callers he puts on any Ax.

In order to evaluate this hand strictly from an equity perspective, we can now input hero’s hole cards, we will assign shorty any 2 cards. We can do this by selecting the RD (Random Distribution) button next to the Player button. PokerStove will assign this player ATC’s. The 2 remaining players in the hand, we will give a range of Ax and say from ATos to A5s. This range will represent 18% (See note at end). After pressing the Evaluate button we get the results, which looks like this.


Looking at the results, we see that hero is slightly ahead, but that Players 3 and 4’s equity are in yellow, meaning that they are nearing break even points. These results show that the hand as played out was a close race. While there may be many other factors to consider before we take action, this example gives us a good idea of where we might stand in any given situation.

Stealing Blinds

Lastly, let’s look at an example of how we can use PokerStove to help us determine if stealing a player’s blind is going to give us a positive or negative outcome.

he first thing we need to do is make some assumptions about villain’s calling range. Calling ranges need to be tighter than raising ranges. Lets say the blinds are 100/200, making the pot 300 chips. We have a stack of 2000 chips. We have KJos and we assume villain will call a raise with 10% of his range. We go to PokerStove and give ourselves KJos and assign 10% as villain’s call range. We may want to make some changes manually by selecting or deselecting cards we don’t think he will call with. Lets say that PokerStove has determined that we have 35% equity against our villain’s call range.

The next step is putting this information together. If villain will only call 10% of the time, then over 100 hands, we will have won 90 x 300 chips = 27,000. Over the 10 times we are called, we will win 35% of those, or 3.5 x (300 + 2000 [our effective stack]) = 8,050. We will lose 6.5 times = 13,000 chips. So over 100 steal attempts we will win 35,050 chips – 13,000 = 22,050 chips.


Note. When assigning a range to opponent, you will need to remove your cards from this range. On the bottom right we see the suites listed and by default they are all selected. Therefore, you need to deselect the suit of the cards you are holding. For example, you have Tc Ts. Click on the TT’s and deselect all clubs and spades. It should look like this.


Now only the hearts and diamonds are selected. If we go back to the main program you should get an output that omits TsTc.


As you can see, PokerStove is very adaptable to different types of situations you may wish to consider. With practice you will go on to discover more ways to take advantage of its capabilities.

Last Updated on Friday, 25 February 2011 00:13


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