Stop Using PokerStove, Start Using Equilab

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PokerStove used to be my go-to poker equity calculator, but overtime I’ve upgraded to Equilab.  Equilab, a free piece of software from PokerStrategy.com, is like PokerStove on steroids with a pinch of Flopzilla thrown in for good measure.  So I fully suggest that you stop using PokerStove and start using Equilab.  If you’ve never used Equilab before this video & article combo will show you the basics and give you some helpful tips for using this software more efficiently.  As always, enjoy the video and if you prefer reading check out the script below!

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Hello, and welcome to today’s Quick Plays video on How to use Equilab. Equilab is a powerful poker equity calculator that has both a holdem and omaha version. This video is going to specifically look at using the holdem version which can be downloaded using this link. Let’s open this powerful piece of software and learn how to use it!

If you’ve never used a poker equity calculator this may seem a bit daunting…but with some practice using this tool becomes a piece of cake. Essentially we use equity calculators to figure out equity against our opponent’s actual hand, or range of hands. We can use this equity to make better plays both preflop and postflop, so knowing how to calculate our equities away from the table is very beneficial. We won’t have the time to use this tool in real-time…but with enough off-table practice you will develop intuition when estimating your equities at the table.

To start, let’s look at the interface and understand what’s going on. Along the left we have different positions that represent players. On their respective line we can input a range of hands, or exact hole cards, and on the right we can see their equity. We can enter cards/ranges a bunch of different ways. We can click this column to input a range. We can click this column to enter specific hole cards such as our own. We can enter a random range here, clear out a row’s inputs, or choose from a preset of ranges based upon the action of a particular villain.

Let’s start by doing a basic calculation to highlight the process. Say we open-raise AKo, a shortstack player goes all-in, and it folds back to us. In this situation we can start by entering our hole cards, so we click the hand button and enter AdKs. Click OK and the hand is automatically entered on our line. You could also manually type in AdKs on our row, so the choice is yours.

add starting hand

Next we need to enter in a range of hands for the shortstack so we can calculate our equity against them. In poker we rarely know our opponent’s exact hole cards, and thus we work in terms of ranges, or groups of likely starting hands. Let’s click the hand range button for this player and enter the range of hands we think he would likely shove with here. For simplicities sake we’ll give him 99+/AQ+. Don’t worry if you disagree with this assumption, we’ll just use it for the time being.

When we open the hand range window we see a lot of options. The left side is a starting hand matrix where the pocket pairs run diagnally, the bottom left is unsuited hands, and the top right is suited hands. There are many ways to choose ranges, such as clicking the hands in the matrix, dragging the bar below, or choosing one of the predefined hand ranges on the right. I usually suggest building your own ranges instead of using predefined ranges…but if you’ve never practiced building ranges before…the predefined ones can be a good starting point.

Let’s select 99+/AQ+. A quick hint for those looking to save some time, by holding the control key and clicking 99 it will automatically select 99 AND every pair higher than it. Similarly, if we hold the control key and click AQ it will select AQ AND AK. This is especially useful when building wider ranges quickly…but it’s a nice feature none the less. Now that we have everything selected, just click OK down below and the range is added to the row!

To calculate the equity of our AK against his range of 99+/AQ+ we can click Evaluate down below. There are two evaluation modes, enumerate all and monte carlo. I suggest using Enumerate all as it’s quicker. Once we click evaluate we see our AK has 48.65% equity. We also see that down below we have a text copy of our analysis. This is useful if you want to share your findings on forums and save it for future reference.

AK v 99+/AQ+

In this exact hand we can simply compare our equity against the current pot odds and make a decision. Here we are getting 1.3:1 on a call and need at least 43% equity. Equilab shows us that we have almost 49% equity, and thus we can make a profitable call here! This doesn’t mean we will win 100% of the time when we call…but we’ll win often enough in the longrun to make this a profitable call given the range of hands we assumed MP would shove with.

With this equity you can do lots of analysis, including simple poker EV calculations

We can also use Equilab for postflop play. Just add in hands and ranges the same as we did above, but make sure to add any known postflop cards before clicking Evaluate. For instance, if the flop were JdTh5s we can click the flop button, add in JT5, and click OK. You can repeat this process for Turn and River cards as well. Then click Evaluate and figure out your equity.

adding flops

There are some other cool features built into Equilab. For instance, if we have the flop of JdTh5s we can click the pie chart icon for our opponent. Now we can see exactly how his range hits that flop. We see that 13% of his range is sets, 27% of his range is overpairs, etc. This is very powerful when analyzing hands away from the table to learn how ranges hit various boards!

Another quick note is adding specific suited combos of hands. Say the flop has two hearts and you only want to analyze your opponent’s suited connector range in hearts. Well open up the range, click the suit selection button, choose all the suited combos you want to add to his range, click suit selection again, and then choose hearts along the right. Now only heart combos have been added to villain’s range…allowing you to get a very specific equity calculation!

There are other uses and features of Equilab, but now you know how to use the tool and calculate equities on your own. Remember, the more practice you get with calculating equities the more ingrained they will become and the easier it will be to estimate in real-time. Same as always, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask, otherwise good luck and happy grinding!

SplitSuit

My name is James "SplitSuit" Sweeney and I'm a poker player, coach, and author. I've released 300+ videos, coached 500+ players, and co-founded the training site Red Chip Poker. Contact me if you need any help improving your poker game!

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