It’s hard to imagine just how far ahead of their contemporaries the likes of Doyle Brunson, Stu Ungar, and Phil Ivey were in their primes. These poker strategy pioneers forged their own paths and wrote their own playbooks to become some of the best minds the game has ever seen.
Those playbooks would have been very valuable to other poker players. As Knish says to Mike McDermott in the iconic poker movie Rounders: “I was giving you a living, showing you the playbook I put together off my beats.”
Brunson would eventually release two editions of his now-legendary SuperSystem book, Ivey released a MasterClass in 2019, and Ungar tragically passed away before he could share his winning strategies, having won the World Series of Poker Main Event for a record-tying third time the year before.
Thankfully for anyone looking to improve their Texas Hold’em poker game, it’s much easier to learn these days. You can now carry around the fundamentals needed for an optimal poker strategy in your pocket, which you can pull out in between hands or keep by your side during an online poker session. It’s not unusual to see the likes of David Peters or Nick Petrangelo studying charts on their phones during a big live tournament.
Poker training apps–some built by leading training sites, others by respected players–make learning better poker easier than it has ever been. So the next time you reach for your phone to check Twitter or to play Candy Crush, maybe download one of these instead.
Here are five of the best poker training apps out there.
DTO is arguably one of the most advanced poker training apps out there, and it’s one of the newest, too. The brainchild of long-time high stakes crusher Dominik Nitsche, the free-to-download app allows players to ‘quickplay’ through endless hand scenarios, selecting multiple choice answers on each decision. At the end of each hand, the app shows which line would have been Game Theory Optimal (GTO). Users can soak up this info and apply it to their games.
When we say endless hand scenarios, we’re not exaggerating. According to the app’s website, there are more than 20 million GTO scenarios pre-solved within the app.
“The most successful poker pros have been using this information for years,” the DTO website states. “DTO Poker Trainer breaks down GTO poker play step by step to allow you to analyze every part of a hand.”
Users can use a free version of the app, which comes with unlimited hands per day (lojack vs big blind only). To gain access to things like pre-flop ranges, different positions (HJ vs SB, BTN vs BB etc.), and different stack sizes, you must subscribe. You’ll find the prices below.
Another popular app set up by a high stakes player rather than an established coaching site is SnapShove, Max Silver’s app which claims to solve short-stacked poker. “SnapShove combines unexploitable nash equilibrium ranges with an instant, easy to use and flexible interface allowing you to get the perfect play for any shove, call or reshove situation,” its website states.
In the free version of the app (which is also free to download), users can find out which hands they should be shoving when in possession of anything from 0.5 big blinds up to 12 big blinds, from every position on a nine-handed table. You’ve only got a limited amount of searches each day, though, so keep that in mind.
If you upgrade to SnapShove Pro, you’ll get unlimited access to all the features, including unlimited searches, a ‘SnapShove/SnapFold’ training device which lets you find the perfect ranges for the next hand with a single click, and you can input any ante and any numbers of players. So if you want to work on your 16-big-blind game and find out which hands you should be shoving from which position, you’ll need to cough up some cash.
The prices for ShapShove Pro range from £3.49 to £10.99 per month.
If you’re not familiar with Upswing Poker, you’ll no doubt be familiar with its founder, Doug Polk. The retired high stakes pro turned YouTube content creator set up the coaching site with Ryan Fee and Matt Colletta in 2015, and it has grown into arguably one of the leading coaching sites out there for both tournament poker and cash games, featuring in-depth courses from the likes of Nick Petrangelo and Alex Millar.
The Upswing Poker App provides preflop charts for online poker, live, and MTT Texas Hold’em games, allowing users to allocate full hand ranges to opponents, and even themselves.
The good news is the app is free, and you don’t have to be a subscriber to the Upswing Poker lab in order to access it.
For calculating your odds against particular hands and ranges, Poker Cruncher is arguably one of the best designed and most up-to-date apps out there. It might cost $12.99, but this is a one-off initial payment which then gives you full access to the app’s advanced settings with no continuing fees.
Poker Cruncher is available on iPhone, iPad, and Android.
Phil Galfond’s Run It Once arguably one of the best poker training sites out there, with a stacked team of coaches including Ben ‘Sauce123’ Sulskey, Jason Koon, and Sam Greenwood.
As well as working on your poker game by inputting scenarios and finding out the GTO answers, you could also improve by watching some of the game’s very best players talk you through their own poker sessions.
The Run It Once App allows users to sync training videos from the website to the app on iPad and Android, which you can then watch offline.