Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013

Using Your Poker Calculator to Spot a Pro at the Table

You don’t necessarily need a poker calculator to do this but at the least, it sure can help you confirm or deny your suspicions about the quality of your opponent. You may have been attracted to your favorite poker website with the lure of numerous fish, but wherever they are, there too, are sharks. So it only follows that you need to know who they are. Your poker calculator will virtually tell you who they are by indicating how many hands they play, how many pre-flop raises they make, and how many hands they win at showdown - all this without ever having to know what they were holding.

The VPIP meter of Hold’em Pirate plainly shows how many hands each player at your table entered the pot whether raising, checking, or calling. Players under 30% for this measurement are to be taken carefully. If they happen to be under 20%, they have a solid, big card hand at the very least. So you know if your hole cards are mediocre, like AJos, KQs etc. lay them down to this player, because the chances are you are at least an underdog, and quite likely dominated.

Consistent pre-flop raising is a solid indication you are dealing with a pro. Experienced players generally follow the assumption that aggressiveness, combined with solid post flop play will win a lot of pots whether you hit the flop or not. If you have a look at Hold’em Pirate’s session stats, the PFR% column shows exactly the amount of raises divided by hands played. The higher this is, the more likely you are up against a pro that knows his odds are better playing heads-up. I usually find a percentage of 40% or more is indicative of professional play. It’s that low because you have to factor in the late position, pot odds calls. That in itself is another sign of professional play.

You know to be concerned about being heads up in a pot when your opponent has a hand win rate of 70%or more. You can see this rating on Hold’em Pirate in the session stats. This means your opponent is basically in with the goods. Save for being drawn out, if you go to the river with this opponent, you better not be bluffing or drawing as these game critical intersects will cost you chips or cash. A real pro will rarely go to the river without the best hand, or without an opportunity to take the pot from a weaker player. It’s really about how to win at poker.

Marty Smith is webmaster of where all the online poker calculators are tested and reviewed, including Sit and Go Shark, Calculatem Pro, and Poker Spy. He also has a blog at You can contact Marty Smith at [email protected]