Are there a good computer programs one could use for learning No Limit Texas Hold'em? Many responses say that best way is to play with real oponents but I would like to learn without losing any money in the process
You can use some ICM-training programs, like: ICM Trainer - it can help you understand how to play late phase of a tournament (when to push/fold).
You can also use some Equity calculators - using those you can understand relative hand strenght in given circumstances. I recommend: Equilab
There are also many programs, which can help you analyze your game. Most of the software I'm thinking about here is designed to help you during the play (by displaying a HUD with your and your opponents stats), but you can also use them to review your previous games (i.e. to find leaks). Examples here would be: Poker Tracker and Holdem Manager.
Even if you read all books all strategies ,you will not play that way. you need some practice. play for some cent blinds and learn from it. best program to learn poker is : pokerstars.exe
I played some years and when i stop for some time and start again i sometimes still do stupid mistakes. It's simple and easy, you need practice to stay good.
"programs" do not exist. afaik.
but you can register at pokerstrategy.com and even win something for free i guess :)
I have bought and am utilizing Poker Genius (www.poker-genius.com) to learn Texas Hold’em. As a successful Blackjack card counter for 25 years I know the value of meaningful practice and Poker Genius training software is the best I have found. Not only can I play realistic games from a technical standpoint, but I can play against a variety of life-like opponents. I can learn card playing strategy while also becoming adept at learning to “read” and react to the other players. Let’s face it – not playing against the house as in other table games introduces a whole new dimension to poker. Poker Genius has modeled this aspect of the game wonderfully, giving you a variety of table playing scenarios, while allowing you the flexibility to create your own table scenarios, even to the point of creating your own specific opponents. As you play the other players learn your style and react accordingly just like in real money games. The Poker Genius statistical analyzation reports are a wealth of information guiding you to your strengths and weaknesses. There are many other benefits too numerous to list, I suggest you download their free trial. Take a few hours to read the well written user manual and try some games yourself. I received timely, thorough responses from their support department when I e-mailed several times with questions. (I am in no way connected with this company – I am just a serious student of the gambling games I play.)
I don't recommend not using money, learn how to play the basics from books. then set yourself a spending limit IE £20, deposit that into a good site and play. trying to lose as little as you can out of maximum hands, without playing too tight. When you're not using money you don't make decisions that you would do realistically and it doesn't feel right. You learn best from mistakes and when you're losing fake money; you're not really making mistakes.
If it's just about not loosing money, you should try Play Chips on PokerStars. Once you manage to build up a nice stack of play chips and hold on to it, you should also be able to do the same at the pennypoker that PokerStars offer.
There are as of yet no robots that play any kind of proper No Limit Holdem. The only thing you could learn from playing against robots like that are bad habits.
Read books, read and post on forums and practice a lot. That's the only recipe to become good at the game.
And once you've become a little bit proficient, you can start using software to enhance your game like the accepted answer suggests, but these are not tools for beginners, and will not help to learn the game.
This is STRICTLY anecdotal, but it is a great fun story nevertheless.
I "trained" a very reluctant student after twisting their arm, who sat with ~300 other tournament winners for her FIRST ever sit down poker session. She got to the LAST table!! (Or next to the last--She won more than 1x the entry fee, I know that.) Here are the details:
I was visiting my sister in AZ and decided to go to a Casino at one of the Phoenix / Mesa Indian reservations. She was an avid slot play, and that's it. Although she had played board / other card game cards, NEVER any kind of poker. While she was feeding the machines at the casino, there happen to be a poker tourney starting, with about 30-50 tables (300-500 players), with an entry fee of about $110. I entered, and played down to the last table, just barely.. And then got shut out with a lovely jacks over 10s or something close, and was beat by aces over something. (Since then I've honed up on my "last table skills", which at the time were lacking--they DO play differently and better!)
Winning a seat in a future tourney
As I was leaving and collecting my "winnings" which was only $10 more than the entry fee, they also told me that, since I'd reached the last table, I also won a free entry into the "winners tourney" next month, that had a normal entry fee of ~$300. Oh, cool... except, I live 2,000 miles away. So, I asked if there was any way I could get someone else to substitute for me. They were non-committal, and likely a bit gun-shy of me "selling my seat", which was not their intent to allow.
Begging my sister to take my place
On our way home, I started trying to sell her on how easy it would be to learn just a bit of poker, and how much fun it would be, telling her she'd be great... She wasn't buying it. I flew home, but I didn't give up. I finally convinced her to at least try to learn how to play, and MAYBE use my $300 tourney ticket.
I sent her a PDF of "Texas Holdem for DUMMIES", (which BTW is a GREAAAT book, even if you are an expert). I also signed her up for an account at PokerStars so we could play together a bit.
Learning to play Holdem for the first time
I don't know how much of the book she read, but I think she skimmed it. (Maybe someday I will go back and really study it..) She also played with me for maybe two hours, total. I did finally convince her to go and take my seat at the tourney, and I also convinced the casino to allow her to take my seat.
Beginner's luck? Or a great teacher? RESULTS:
She called me after the tourney and amazed me when she told me that she advance through 5-6 tables and ended up at the last table!! UN-believable!! So, HOW did she do it?? As she told me what all happened, mostly they were about who said what... And, how she acted, and NOT much about the cards, (with more than a few stupid Holdem questions).
Here's HOW you become an expert --- >>
I'm sure you will read all about becoming an expert from lots of "experts". But just understand this: Holdem is NOT a technical game... It is learning how to control yourself, your emotions, your appearance, and EITHER reading people, strategy, or the situation, (or preferably all of these). Technical knowledge helps, but... that will NOT get you very far!!
How she played so well the first time out
When I play, mostly I play online 98% of the time, (since I live nowhere close to a casino.) I have played maybe 10 times live in Reno, and Biloxi, ships, and Vegas mostly at the Orleans, which is known as a very local cloud of regulars. For me IRL at the table, I just do NOT read people all that well. But I am great at strategy, situational awareness, and great fearlessness. So, I do very very well online and also at the tables (paid for several vacations in 2-3 hours of play per night).
It should be obvious to me and also to you by now, she was pretty clueless with holdem. However, she DID learn enough to to not screw up too badly. What she WAS great at however, was reading people. Even as a novice, if you are very strong in just a few of the key strengths I mentioned: self control, reading people, strategy, situations; you will do very well, and better than most.
DO pretty much what she did
1. Read some good material--DUMMIES is good.
I've skimmed quite a few of the Dummies series books, and find that to be the quickest and most efficient way to learn as much as you want to know. You will certainly know more than you need to, and more than 99% of the folks you will be playing.
2. Get an account on PokerStars and PLAY... it is F R E E
Do a variety of different games, but do ALL Holdem. -- Turneys are not the same game as regular table play, where you are sitting with the same folks for an hour in regular play. 10 or 100 players or 2 or 3 players make a huge difference. Also, I looked at some of the materials that Pokerstars had to teach you, which was pretty good.
Get rhythm... and you won't be singing the Blues [--Johnny Cash :) ]
Other than the amount you bet, check, or fold, the ONLY other variable you have to communicate with, is how LONG you take to play... I find it not much different in person, IRL. Unless you are a great actor, using different faces won't work.
Find your weakness and conquer it.
I found I had to learn how to play with 3-4 people tourneys and most always win, or I could never do better than to JUST REACH the last table.
Just get up, and play another day when you feel that the "world is out to get you".
I also had to learn that, when you feel "life has been unfair", IRL OR at the table, you will NEVER win...
Good luck! And... Have FUN, or you won't ever learn much.
I am a professional poker player and been using all kinds of tools over the years, and do not imagine any reasons not to take advantage of these programs. There is a list of my recommended poker software.
These tools will surely help you learn strategy much quicker than just playing and just as you said, it will prevent you from losing money. From GTO solvers to artificial intelligence trainers, it is something that every serious player uses to improve.
To add on top of that, I would not recommend following some of the advice that was given in this thread. Things that will not help you:
- Playing for play chips - you will not learn much because players in free games are doing random stuff, so you much better of investing a couple of bucks and playing "real" games to learn it. Practice makes perfect after all.
- Reading books as a learning tool - why books can be interesting and even useful to some extent, it is by far not the best way to learn poker. These days you can find much more up to date and valuable information on poker blogs, or just work on your own with poker software.
I hope this helps.