For those who are at least a little bit interested in online poker , the term poker solver should sound familiar. These online poker “helpers” have been around since 2015, but lately their popularity is rapidly rising.
The main goal of poker solvers is to improve your win rate, but today we will show you the dark side of using such software. There are many examples of players, who decide to use solvers, only to find out, their results have become worse. Read till the end to understand why !
What is Poker Solver Exactly ?
In theory, poker solvers are computer programs that calculate solutions to any poker situations. Some years ago it was unimaginable to be able to run such a powerful piece of software on your home computer – with the computing power of modern PCs, this is no longer the case. The solutions provided by solvers are very close to the game theory optimal (GTO) play. In an ideal world, this piece of software, would make your game an impenetrable fortress.
The reality, however, is much more different. We will show you the risks and downsides of using poker solvers soon.
How Poker Solvers Work ?
The simplest explanation is that poker solvers are calculating an optimal strategy based on a handful of options (inputs) which are set by the user. These options include :
- The preflop ranges of each player
- Bet size options
- Raise size options
- The effective stack size
- The size of the pot
- Donking/leading possibility
If used against computer generated opponents in some free to play poker game, poker solvers would be highly effective and virtually unbeatable. Reason is, these “opponents” who play identically without any deviation from their programming. Just like in regular computer games.
In a real game of No Limit Hold’em, however, you can’t possibly know your opponent’s exact preflop range. You also don’t have such a limited number of bet/raise size options, and leading out is always an option.
Why Poker Solvers are BAD for me ?
The main problem with poker solvers, is that it operates under the assumption that each player knows the other player’s complete from preflop until the river. It is based on that assumption that the solver comes up with an unexploitable strategy.
To put things metaphorically, poker solvers are like masterfully crafted sword, which is supposed to give you an advantage, but you end up using it in a firefight.
You probably cracked the code of this statement, but let’s put it simply – poker solvers are only good against other players who try to use GTO tactics. Emphasis here is on try. Because if players are equally good at GTO or using RTA ( Real Time Assistance) , you will just pay rake and play with opponents , who mirror your playing style.
By choosing to memorize certain patterns and spots, using poker solvers, you are open to being exploited by players, who notice that you follow strictly predetermined playing style. With all the different strategies in online poker today, you will be shooting yourself in the foot, if you try to play “correctly” all the time.
So many bad players, maniacs and gamblers will come your way with all kind of questionable plays, which are easily exploited without using any assistance. In fact, facing such amateur players, can confuse the solver and you will just end up overfolding many spots. Or worse – overcalling.
If you allow one last metaphor – player with poker solver is like an end game boss. It is probably a super tough at first, but once you learn his tricks, the villain does not have anything else to offer. The boss just becomes exploitable and easily beaten enemy, even though was formidable foe at first.
If you still insist on using poker solvers, make sure your online room is full of sharks, who try to be GTO grinders. Only in such environment, you will see the full benefits of just playing a more mathematically sound poker. Some solvers you can use include PioSolver , Simple Postflop , GTO+.
Poker Solvers in Multi Way Pots ?
One area, where even the most hardcore fans of poker solvers, would agree they are practically useless, is when used in multi-way pots.
Solvers seem to handle these very poorly, since there are multiple game theory equilibriums as John Nash would call them. When you have two players in the pot, calculating GTO frequencies is far easier. The game trees quickly become too complex to draw any reasonable conclusions from sims made in multiway pots.
Are Poker Solvers Completely Useless ?
Poker solvers are NOT completely useless. They are actually very good to study some spots, get better at the mathematical understanding of the game and also understanding the basic concepts, so that you would spot a player trying to implement GTO strategy.
There is nothing easier than to exploit a villain, who tries to use a 100% approved poker solver game. He becomes predictable and heavily exploitable.
Imagine that on dry boards, solvers suggest that you should c-bet 1/4th to 1/3rd of the pot. A certified poker solver user will follow these guide lines like a bible and would have prepared strategies for these kind of boards.
What will happen however, if you start varying your bet sizes. Betting half pot, full pot, even some donkey all in. The villain will be highly frustrated. On many occasions he will feel that calling is the correct play, but solver would dictate a fold.
Another way in which poker solvers are useful, is by helping you noticing certain patterns and concepts. By diving deep into the GTO aspect of the game, you start thinking from different angles. The important thing here is to consume as much knowledge, as possible, but having the ability to filter the good and bad advices. Not just with poker solvers, but with strategy in general.
To sum up, study poker solvers a bit, just to think, like other people who have used it do. Then develop your personal style of playing, in which you use different weapons, to determine the correct play in each spot.
By praising the mathematical aspects of the game, we often forget that there are other factors like psychology and exploitative strategy to be taken into account. No solver, will teach you how to play against tilted players, for example.
Poker Solvers Parameters
If in the end, you still decide to give poker solvers a shot, here is some help with setting the basic parameters.
- Out of Position Player (OOP) Range – if you don’t know the exact range, you can make an estimate which hands it includes
- In Position Player (IP) Range – same as in OOP Range, make an estimate if you don’t know the exact combos in the range
- Board – solving from the flop onwards is usually the best way to go
- Starting Pot – how much money is in the middle at the start. You can use something like Big Blind = 10 chips so that all sums are easy to read
- Effective Stacks – the effective stacks sizes that players have behind
- Betting Options (for both players) – this one is the hardest parameter to set. You need to cut down available bet sizes so that the game tree stays manageable, as otherwise generating useful results is pretty much impossible!
- Rake – this one is optional, but it’s very useful when you want to get sims from a specific rake environment. Rake plays a big part in winrates especially at lower stakes where optimal play might differ a lot from high stakes where rake is minimal.
Real Time Assistance (RTA) – the Baby Brother of Poker Solvers
Speaking of solvers, the one thing you should absolutely avoid using is real time assistance. We also forbid our players from using it , as the risk from getting banned in 99% of the online poker rooms, is huge.
RTA is basically a poker solver, which you can run while playing in real time. Using it almost always end up with confiscated funds from your account, as it is not allowed poker software. We purposely avoided to cover the Bryn Kenney cheating scandal, as you can read about it everywhere, but one of the things he was accused of is using real time assistance
In spite of all that, there will always be players willing to risk it all, just to have some kind of advantage over the others. Well, the even worse news is, RTA will hardly be useful for you online.
The only two differences between poker solvers and RTA. First is that you can use the latter while playing. Second one being that RTA automatically recognizes player patterns and develop better strategy against each player. IT sounds very attractive, but in reality, these adjustment towards each player, are hardly working.
80% of players online are completely unpredictable and using poker solvers or RTA will just confuse you more, what you should do in certain spot. The instinctive plays of most villains, will render all outside help completely useless.
All online poker rooms The Poker Agent provide are free of players using RTA , due to highly trained security teams, monitoring the game integrity 24/7. In the well known large global brands, few people escape the punishment here and there and continue to use real time assistance without repercussions.
TLDR – the players who you are going to encounter while playing online, will almost always play poker, which has nothing to do with correct GTO executions.
Most of them are not capable yet of thinking in terms of ranges and so trying to “balance” anything or become un-exploitable will simply fly right over their heads.
And what’s worse, the solver will actually have you making -EV (negative expected value) decisions in some spots such as slow-playing a set against a calling station.
Instead, an Exploitative unbalanced strategy is almost always the way to achieve the maximum success.
Pros of using Poker Solvers
+ Helping you spot certain patterns of play
+ Advantage over players who try to play this way
+ Understanding how people using solvers think and exploiting them
Cons of using Poker Solvers
– Not useful against most players
– Contradicts exploitative strategy
– Not good in multi-way pots
– Makes you predictable
What does RTA mean ?
Real-Time Assistance is not a physical tool; it’s actually any piece of additional software (not provided by the platform) that players use as an assistant when playing cash games or tournaments on the web. Some RTA programs are entirely automated, meaning they do everything for you, while others require you to make an input to make calculations and influence your final decision.
What is a Poker Solver?
The best GTO solvers on the market include PioSOLVER and MonkerSolver. PioSOLVER is fast poker solver for Holdem and allows inputs like starting ranges, bet sizes and desired accuracy. MonkerSolver is the leading Omaha solver that also works for Holdem. With PioSOLVER and MonkerSolver you can study optimal play in poker based on analysis and math.
Is RTA legal ?
Most online poker rooms ban and confiscate all funds , once they discover a player using real time assistance.