Tools and Toys for the online player
With online poker being so popular, a cottage industry has popped up around the online poker boon, with plenty of online tools, and support programs designed to enhance the online poker players quest for greatness. Below find five tools and toys you can easily find on the internet.
1) Database programs Both Poker Tracker, and Poker Office offer the purchaser a solid database program to analyze your own play, and keep track of your opponent's play. With SO many players online, if you are a low limit player, the chances of you seeing eight, or possibly nine different players each time you sit down are significant. But if you are a medium to high limit player, the player pool thins greatly, and it is not only possible, but realistic to get excellent data on most of your opponents. In my opinion, it is essential to keep notes on your opponents, just like you do (consciously or unconsciously) in your local card room by playing live with many of the same people. You will hate the effort of taking notes, until the first time you win a huge NL pot because your notes told you that you have seen a certain player make a certain type of bluff three times prior. Both Poker Tracker, and Poker Office have their individual characteristics, and rather than pontificate on which is best, I suggest interested players go to the individual websites, and download the sample program, and take it foe a test drive. One thing that should be noted is that Poker Tracker supports Poker Stars, whereas Poker Office does not.
If you want information on EVERY tracked player out there in the poker universe, there is a program called Poker Edge, which has data on over 100,000 players. It should be noted that Poker Edge's main focus is on limit, and tournament players may not get much out of it. Rather than a one-time fee, Poker Edge is a monthly subscription service.
2) Poker hand calculator A staple of many a players online poker experience is the poker hand calculator at Two Dimes. This calculator can let a player plug in the particulars of any given hand, including multiple hands, and allows a player to see the odds of any of the hands winning. This device supports Hold Em, but also is great for Omaha, Stud (and High/Low versions of each), and even can give you information about Razz, deuce to seven, or Draw. I found this calculator fantastic as I was learning Omaha/8, and I cannot speak highly enough of it. This is one of those tools that has really accelerated the learning curve of learning the math of poker. Twenty years ago, players had to learn all the math of poker by trial and error (assuming their math was correct). Now, tools like the Two Dimes calculator give the modern player the ability to see variations, and do the math in a snap.
3) Ultimate Buddy Unfortunately, no program like Ultimate Buddy exists for other online poker rooms. Some online rooms allow you to search for players efficiently (Poker Stars), and others make it very difficult (Party Poker). Ultimate Buddy allows you to see players you want to find (either your friends, or people you feel you can take for a dollar or two) without doing anything. Indeed, Ultimate Buddy will show you when a certain player logs on, and where that player is playing. Even the online rooms with good player search capabilities don't have the ability to tell you when one of your favorites sits down at a game, and where he or she is playing. It should be noted that Ultimate Buddy is not endorsed, or recognized by Ultimate Bet, and that any player using it is doing so at their own risk.
4) Magic Poker Cards On the more recreational side of toys you can the online player can use are the cards, and card backs at MagicPokerCards.com. This program allows the player to "place" unique images onto the card faces, and card backs at the table they are playing at. Apparently created to distract from the tedium of online play, these cards allow the player to see any number of images on the face, and the backs of the cards. The player can see women, their favorite sports team logo, or any photograph that they choose to place on the card back themselves. According to the website, the placing, editing, and use of these custom card images is easy, and quick to learn.
5) Wilson Software Last but not least, the Wilson software has been the leading software to improve the play of poker players for more than a decade now. A play simulator where you can set the level and type of player you would be playing against, the Wilson software allows a player to see thousands of hands at the click of a mouse, and find the holes in their game. Online poker can provide a real "field test" anytime a player wants to test or improve his or her game. But the Wilson software allows a player to get a simulated "field test" at a higher rate of speed, and without the pesky actions of those other humans slowing you down, or getting in your way. The Wilson software is certainly no substitute for real money play against real players, but it does allow players to work on their games at a high rate of speed without losing any of that real money.
The real strength of the Wilson software, in my opinion is that they make software that covers Omaha, Stud (and separate programs for the High/Low variants of these games), as well as a tournament Hold Em version, which takes into account the different mindset, and play strategies required for tournament play. There is certainly a point where a player "outgrows" simulation software, but if you aren't sure if you are at that point yet, the Wilson programs might be worth a look.
As a footnote, for the real math/stat geeks out there, it might be worth your time to set your browser to Poker Pulse. Poker Pulse is a real time monitor of the number of real (and play) money players at each of the top 20 online poker sites. Every month or so, I like to venture over to Poker Pulse to see who is gaining ground, who is losing ground, who is merging, etc. Did you know that according to Poker Pulse, $162,215,394 was wagered at online poker sites in the last 24 HOURS?? How much of that was yours?