Free Poker Software
Aug 30, 2005  
by Jason Kirk  

One of the nicest things about being a poker player in the computer age is the availability of software that can help you improve your game. There are literally dozens of packages that you can buy to train you in playing the game or to keep track of your statistics while you play for real money. Some of the best software packages around, though, are free utilities programmed by poker players who have used their computer knowledge to make your life easier. Here's a roundup of some of the best free packages available today.

Poker Stove - Because you only have incomplete information available to you while playing hold'em, the best you can ever do when making decisions at the table is place your opponent on a range of hands. Poker Stove is a utility that helps you learn how any one starting hand stacks up against a range of hands your opponent might be holding. You can input starting hands (or ranges of hands) for up to ten players, and input the board cards for literally any situation you can imagine. Do you want to know the actual odds AA has of winning against 72o? How about AA's chances in a pot against four random hands? Maybe you want to see if you made the right move on the hand that busted you out of a tournament? Poker Stove is the best way of learning the numbers behind these kinds of situations. It's not the kind of utility that will help you to make decisions while you're actually playing, but time spent studying with it should help you to improve your situational awareness over time. Poker Stove is freely available for download and use.

GameTime - Anyone who plays online cash games on a regular basis ought to be using Poker Tracker by now. Not learning the holes in your own game is inexcusable enough, but not taking advantage of the information you glean from your opponents' play is just giving money away. Poker Tracker will help you to gather this information, but GameTime+ takes it to another level entirely. Used in conjunction with Poker Tracker, GameTime+ takes your opponents' statistics from the PT database and overlays them at the table you're playing. This is as helpful a tool as anyone has ever created for online poker, because it gives you clear information on the tendencies of those playing against you and allows you to make better decisions in the middle of your game. Playing with GameTime+ running helps to quantify just how loose or tight your opponents are preflop, and to measure their aggression after the flop as well. The best part, though, is that every hand you've ever played against a particular opponent is figured into the numbers that are displayed. GameTime+ is freely available for download and use.

The Tournament Director - Most online poker players like to get their friends together for a home game from time to time. If your friends don't mind playing cash games only, there's no need to worry about any sort of organization - all you need for a night of fun are cards and chips. But some groups are more comfortable playing poker in a tournament format, which requires more effort to run well than a cash game does - keeping up with rising blinds and antes, making sure all your players have paid their entries, deciding who gets paid what share of the pot, and all sorts of other details need to be managed. That's where The Tournament Director comes in. This elegant piece of software helps to keep track of all the little hassles that running a tournament presents. In addition to all the details listed above, probably the most useful function of The Tournament Director is the player seating assignment; in multi-table tournaments, the program will automatically balance the tables in the most efficient way possible. The Tournament Director is freely available for download and use, but the author requests that anyone who finds it useful make a donation.

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