Article Contributors

Now there are more and more sophisticated programs to improve the game and results that will be useful to amateur and pro players. It is becoming popular to explore possible solutions with the help of solver programs: PioSOLVER, MonkerSolver and Simple Postflop. When high limiters do game analysis, they discuss the solver’s calculations and why they deviate from that calculation, or why they follow the solver’s advice. Read on to jump into the world of poker solvers and find out what these programs are, what GTO poker solver calculations will teach you, and how improving your game with solvers will increase your profit!

What are poker solvers and how does it work

Solvers are computer programs that compute solutions for poker situations. Ten years ago, it was not possible to run such powerful software on a home computer, but now PC processing power has increased and players have more ways to improve the game. The solver program solutions are close to the Game Theory Optimal Game (GTO), so a poker player who uses GTO solutions gets an advantage – he cannot be exploited. When you first get acquainted with GTO solvers, some of the options will seem strange. But when you study thousands of situations, you will learn how to predict the solutions of the solver. And also get acquainted with the terms that are found in the program!
After specifying the basic variables – preflop hand ranges and available bet sizes, solvers will generate a strategy that cannot be exploited. Instructions for running simulations using solvers are provided by the program developer, but if you have questions, you can write to the support service.
However, there are factors at the poker table that solvers cannot overcome, such as range advantage and position – it is impossible to develop a break-even strategy for the cut-off against the button due to positional disadvantage. The situation is the same with the small blind against UTG as the small blind bets dead money before the flop. But you can calculate the possible payoffs with different hands in the small blind with an open raise from UTG.

Restrictions on the use of solvers

The solvers have many useful features: deep analysis, visual decision tree building interface and advanced settings. Solvers will teach you a lot, but people still do some things better than machines. Let’s move on to three restrictions.

Multipots

Solvers can’t handle multipots because there is John Nash’s theory of equilibrium. When there are two players in the pot, calculating GTO frequencies is easier. In multipots, the game tree quickly becomes too complex to draw reasonable conclusions from simulations.

Parameters

Programs handle invalid parameters as specified. At the output, the solutions are only as good as the settings are well set. Therefore, for a correct and accurate analysis, we recommend that you set the parameters correctly. Solving a situation with one bet size will not give the same results as solving a situation with 5 bet sizes. Similarly, if you put a base range of the top 20% of hands and forget to remove the hands that your opponent will 3-bet pre-flop. Don’t forget to double-check your input!

How to optimally play against recreational players

Solvers are great at telling you how to play against advanced opponents. But these programs will not tell you how to make the most of autoresponders or maniacs. To achieve the maximum win against different types of players, more knowledge is required than analysis using GTO solvers. Not many players know how to implement a strategy close to ideal at the tables. We recommend implementing solver solutions against strong players in HU-banks in order to close the leaks.

Poker solver options

Range Out of position (OOP) – if you do not know the exact range, indicate the possible hands
Range In position (IP) – indicate the possible hands if you do not know the exact combinations in the range
Board – the best decisions will be for the flop
Starting bank – how much money is in the bank at the start. A good way is to specify Big Blind = 10 chips so the amounts are easy to read
Effective stacks – effective stack sizes for players
Betting options (for both players) is the most difficult setting to set up. It’s worth reducing the available bet sizes to keep the game tree manageable, otherwise you won’t get any useful results!
Rake is an optional but useful setting for simulating the situation with a particular rake. Rake is especially important for win rate at lower stakes, where the optimal game can be very different from the high limits with a minimum rake.

How to start using solvers

It’s easy, here’s the plan of action: buy a license for the program, watch a video review with a quick guide, and … you’re done. If you want to learn how to work in the solver faster, you can even buy the PioSOLVER online course with additional training materials – all the useful information will be here. However, the basic functionality is easy to figure out! Here is a brief overview and guide to working in the PioSOLVER program:

How solvers changed the metagame and online poker

The metagame is about the overall strategy of the players, the adjustments against each other, and how the dynamics of strategies and adjustments determine the course of the game. The metagame and online poker have evolved rapidly, first with poker games showing hole cards on television, then with poker schools and statistics programs like Holdem Manager and Poker Tracker, and now with poker GTO solvers.

At NL200+ limits in popular poker rooms like GGPokerok, Americas Cardroom or partypoker, there will be opponents who have learned strategies using PioSolver or Simple Postflop solvers. Let’s take a look at all the common changes in the metagame that caused the use of solvers by players.

Small contbet on the flop

Usually solvers prefer small bet sizes for most situations on the flop after a preflop raise. Today many poker players make small bets regardless of the structure of the flop and opponents. Small flop contbet sizes won’t help if you don’t know when to use them.

Large preflop 3-bet sizes

3-bet sizes have increased due to the fact that poker players tend to reduce the equity of the open-raiser when 3-betting. This trend is popular with 3-bets from the small and big blinds.

Overbets on the turn

Often poker players make smaller bets on the flop against limited ranges that check-call. But on some boards, flop solvers increase the bet sizing to 2 pot overbets. This method puts pressure on the opponent’s range, which leads to errors by opponents who are not familiar with the mathematics and theory of overbets. It’s hard to play well against opponents who use a lot of post-flop overbets when you can’t see their cards at showdown.

More aggressive OOP play

Since poker is all about implementing our own equity and trying to prevent our opponents from realizing theirs, an aggressive style is the way to go (to maximize EV!). Solving programs often check-raise postflop when playing out of position with value hands and hands that are not strong enough to check-call but have some EV when called by an opponent.

Opening by limping in tournaments

Opening a limp used to be considered a leak, but recently that has changed. Limping is used in tournament situations where short stacks are involved.

Wide ranges of BB defense

In the 2010s poker players played very tight from the blinds even against raises from late position. Now advanced players have started defending extensively in 6-max cash games and tournaments with antes. Defending a wide range of hands against raisers without missing many post-flops is a useful skill, especially for MTT players. There will be difficult decisions on the flop, turn and river with a wide range of BB defenses, but they will become easier to deal with as you gain experience.

The path from micro limits to high limits can be overcome through a number of methods: play and learn the game on your own, find a coach or mentor for support, or subscribe to a training site. The GTO solver program will be useful for any method – you will learn how strong poker players build ranges for specific situations.

Competition in the poker world is on the rise. Modern poker software does not require the computing power of a supercomputer; for reasonable money, these useful programs are available to every player.

We are not saying that solvers like PioSOLVER or GTO Range Builder are necessary to move up the stakes – it is better to use all available tools to become a profitable player, and also look for a soft field. There is no need to choose one path over the other: some of the strongest players study hands both in terms of exploitation and with the help of solvers.

19

353 articles

Kristaps is an expert in the field of online casinos. Since the age of 20, he has been interested in casino games; poker and blackjack are his favorites. Thanks to his studies and work experience, he has found himself a gambling critic and analyst. He likes to share his own authentic experience with the audience, so his articles are very informative. Kristaps' lifelong dream is to participate in a poker tournament in Las Vegas.

Nationality

latvian

Lives In

Latvia

University

University of Latvia

Degree