There’s some excellent software out there to help you with your poker game. Probably the most popular tool is PokerTracker, a full-featured database for your online poker hands. You probably already knew about PokerTracker. (If you didn’t, visit that link now!) Here are 5 must-have and mostly free poker tools you may not already know about.

Equity Calculators

Equity calculators are essential tools. They run simulations of all the possible board cards that can come, and they tell you the percentage of the time a certain hand (or range of hands) will win, tie, and lose. The two I use regularly are PokerStove, which is a full-featured client application (i.e., you have to download it and install it on your computer), and NPA Poker Tools, which is a web application I recently wrote. I personally use PokerStove for my writings more than any other poker software tool.

Poker Web Search

#1 Poker Search is a new poker search service that indexes only top-quality poker websites. There’s a lot of great poker information on the web, but sometimes it’s hard to find either because it’s on a site you don’t regularly visit or because the search functions on the sites don’t work well. #1 Poker Search helps you search poker websites and answer your poker questions more quickly and thoroughly.

Hand Converters

PokerHand is a sort of universal hand converter. You can submit a hand history of a hand you played online, and it will convert it into a pretty, human-readable format with card pictures and store it in its database. Then it gives you a permanent URL to your hand that you can post anywhere. So if you want to ask a question about a hand on a forum or blog, you can upload your hand to PokerHand and just post the URL it gives you. FlopTurnRiver also has a hand converter that will produce code for you to copy into forums, blogs, etc. Be careful and make sure you use the right format for the output, however, or your posting will look like a garbled mess of codes instead of a human-readable hand.

Online Hand Databases

SharkScope is a huge database of online tournament results. You can use it to scout out players you may not be familiar with, and it works on many of the major online sites. It tells you vital data about each player, including how many tournaments they’ve played and what their ROI (return on investment) has been. They give you 5 free searches per day, but if you want more, you have to pay.

Heads Up Displays

PokerAce HUD is a heads-up display for online play that uses your PokerTracker database. It’s not free, but it’s a terrific tool nonetheless. Ever wonder how people can play 8 tables at once? “>PokerAce HUD is one of the tricks these mega-tablers use. It displays PokerTracker data about your opponents next to their names inside the table window, so you see a quick summary of how each player plays right before your eyes. It’s fully configurable, so you can show whatever data you want wherever you want it.

Sit n Go Calculators

Sit n Go Power Tools is not free either, but it is simply essential if you seriously play one table tournaments. Sit-n-gos are very different from any other poker game because they pay so much to second and third place. Your goal isn’t to win the most chips, it’s to win the most money, and often that means trying to survive rather than gambling. Using equity calculators like PokerStove might lead you to the wrong conclusions in sit-n-gos because they will tell you what earns the most chips, not the most money. Sit n Go Power Tools runs the numbers for you, adjusting to the payout structure, and using it will improve your play tremendously.

NOTE: The equity calculators like NPA Tools, PokerStove, and Sit n Go Power Tools are all offline calculators. They aren’t intended to tell you how to play while you play (like the HUDs do), they are for analyzing hands away from the table.

Poker tools are sophisticated these days, and you should take advantage of them. Check out these tools today, and a few months from now you may wonder how you ever played without them.