You’re playing in an online game of Texas Hold’em. You’ve been dealt Jh-Th. What do you do? Do you limp in? Do you raise? Do you fold? To figure out what to do you must consider your position at the table. You must also know the odds your hand could improve into something, like a flush or a straight or something else. The problem is that you need to make your decision quickly, and you’re no Stuey Ungar, and even if you have a relatively good calculating mind, it may be tired and losing focus.
Solution to problem: Pokerbility.
Pokerbility is a poker tool, specifically a calculating Hold’em tool, that provides odds and recommendations while you play in real time both online and offline. It not only takes into consideration your position at the table, but also how loosely or tightly you want to play given that position (you get to set this preference). You can download Pokerbility here for free if you open up a real money account at one of the online poker rooms that is linked to their site.
As I said in my last post, I won’t play online Hold’em for money without Pokerbility. I used it in a freeroll tournament in which I placed 65th out of over 4000 entrants, and I have some reason to believe that my relative success can in part be attributed to its use. I recognize that how one does in one tournament is not a good basis for drawing any final conclusions about how well one will do with Pokerbility in the long run. However, it’s not just how I did that explains my endorsement of this product. I think Pokerbility is a valuable tool especially for a beginner primarily because it gives useful poker information that helps guide and support judgments about what to do. How can this not be good (see below for my one concern)?
One of my weaknesses as a player is that I don’t fold enough, even though I consider myself to be a tight player. Pokerbility certainly reminded me of this weakness, because there were many occasions when I thought the correct non-bluffing move was to call a bet or even to raise, yet the advice given by Pokerbility was to fold or to check. I was surprised by how often Pokerbility suggested that I fold my hand when I wasn’t initially inclined to do so. But I see this as a good thing. As Lee Jones teaches us in “Winning Low Limit Hold’em,” you should always look for a reason to fold.
Pokerbility is incredibly easy to use. The only difficulty I encountered – and this was only slightly annoying – was that every time I was switched to a new table while I was playing in the freeroll tournament the tool would stop working and needed to be re-attached to the window of the poker room.
Pokerbility has a visually appealing design. It looks like a colorful TV remote control. The lower part of it changes colors depending on whether it thinks you have a good or bad hand. For example, if it thinks you should fold or check it is green. But if it thinks you should raise it is red. If I had designed this color coding scheme, I would have done things differently, using green for raise and red for fold or check. But this is a minor quibble.
If you’re not clear about anything regarding the tool – and there is not much to understand – there is a “?” button you can click and you will be taken to a page where most of Pokerbility is explained. I say “most” because there was one important piece of information concerning “hand rank” that I found confusing, and I didn’t think that the website explained it well.
According to the website, hand rank represents the percentage of times your two-card hand should be the winning hand. One of the things that I found confusing about this was that there were times pre-flop that the ranking of my hand was relatively high (e.g. %85), and the betting advice was to fold. However, there were times that I remember being in the same table position, yet I was advised to raise with a hand ranking that had a much lower percentage.
Another thing that I couldn’t make sense of was the relationship between the hand ranking and the win/split statistic. There is a section in the Pokerbility tool that tells you the odds of your two cards hitting a particular hand on the River. That is, it will tell you what percentage chance you have of getting a pair, two pair, three of a kind, a straight, a flush, a full house, and other hands. It also tells you the percentage chance you have of winning or splitting the pot given your two cards. I’m not sure what this percentage means and it is related to hand rank. Unfortunately, this is not explained on the site. I emailed the support at Pokerbility several days ago and still have not yet received an answer to this query.
My only other main criticism with Pokerbility is that I don’t understand why the tool immediately stops displaying the relevant information after you fold. It would be much more helpful if this information could be displayed for a little while longer, perhaps until the next hand is dealt, so that a player, like me, can ponder it and perhaps learn a little about odds.
I do have one serious concern about Pokerbility, and in general about poker related programs. Can they be trusted? There are a number of other poker calculating tools out on the web, some of which claim that they can even calculate pot odds (why Pokerbility doesn’t offer this feature is beyond me). But there is little discussion about these calculating tools in poker forums, such as 2+2. One explanation for this is that these tools might not be that useful for a reasonably good player, such as one might find in one of these forums. Another explanation is they are programs that steal your account information in an attempt to rip you off. I haven’t read anything on the web that would suggest this about Pokerbility, and there are sites that actually deny it. But it’s still a concern. You must always be wary when you download a poker related program.
Pokerbility isn’t a crystal ball, and it can’t guarantee success. As the Pokerbility website reminds us, it does not take into account the “human factor”. In order to be a good Hold’em player you need to be able to read other players and be able to bluff, and Pokerbility doesn’t help with either skill. But even though it can’t help with the human factor, it can still make you a better player, especially if you’re a beginner. And for this reason, I’m definitely a fan of Pokerbility.