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Making Sense of Solvers in Poker

Author: Pokeradmin

Publish: 2022-04-04 14:51:33

A poker solver is a powerful piece of software that calculates optimal strategies based on various parameters input by the user. Since they became publicly available circa 2015, solvers have taken the poker world by storm, quickly becoming one of the most popular tools in the industry.

But how exactly do they work? And how do you use them? This article will answer these questions and more.

How Do Solvers Work?

Solvers work by calculating an optimal strategy contingent on various user-input parameters. These parameters include:

  • Preflop ranges
  • Board
  • Starting pot size
  • Effective stack sizes
  • Bet sizes
  • Raise sizes
  • Rake structure
  • Accuracy

Here, for example, you can see part of the input screen for GTO+. From this interface, the user can enter preflop ranges, the board, the starting pot size, effective stacks, rake (percentage and cap), as well as bet and raise sizes throughout the game tree.

The program will then simulate an enormous number of iterations (wherein the solver effectively plays versus itself), as a means to the end of determining the optimal strategy. Solvers are clairvoyant by nature, meaning that each ‘player’ knows the other's exact strategy. Strategies will eventually converge to the (Nash) equilibrium output, which simply put means that there is no further incentive for either player to deviate. In other words, the final solution is unexploitable.

Solvers aren’t able to fully solve poker due to the game’s extreme complexity, but they can solve pieces of the puzzle. These pieces can provide valuable insights into the game's underlying mechanics.

Studying with the likes of a solver is one way to add to your bottom line at the table. Another is through additional rakeback which you can acquire by signing up with an affiliate. Affiliate deals like the ones available at rakerace.com are thus highly recommended!

How to Use a Solver

Solvers are a nuanced and often daunting tool, particularly for new users, which is why we’ve put together some quick tips on how to use a solver more effectively:

  • Use inputs that map to reality. There is a lot to unpack here, but it can be summarized as such: a solver's output is only as good as its inputs. In order to glean functional outputs from the solver, your inputs need to reflect reality. This will mean entering reasonable preflop ranges, an accurate rake structure, and reasoned bet sizes.
  • Don’t try to blindly copy outputs. Rote memorization of solver outputs is not only inefficient but practically impossible due to their hyper-complexity. Instead, look for patterns, concepts and thresholds; try to develop widely applicable heuristics.
  • Node lock where possible. The node lock function allows users to edit and lock in a deviated strategy for either player and then re-solve for an exploitative strategy. It’s important to understand that GTO (meaning the Nash equilibrium strategy) doesn’t necessarily win the most money versus real opponents with real leaks. You can think of opponents' leaks as deviations from equilibrium, which are subsequently vulnerable to exploitation. For example, consider an opponent who folds on the river too often. Versus such an opponent, we can go into the solution, change some of the mandatory calls into folds to better represent our opponent's game, lock and re-solve. Watch how the solver capitalizes on the opponent's tendency to overfold by betting more often (with bluffs).

Popular Solvers and Browser-Based Solvers

Some of the most popular solvers on the market include:

  • PioSolver
  • GTO+
  • Simple Postflop
  • Monker Solver

Each has varying costs and unique attributes. Make sure to conduct your own research before deciding which best suits your needs. To clarify, each of the above are examples of downloadable programs that utilize your PCs resources (RAM in particular) to calculate optimal poker strategies.

A relatively new alternative is browser-based solvers, such as GTO Wizard. These tools only require an internet connection to use and allow the user to browse a huge number of pre-solved solutions.

Again, each comes with its advantages and disadvantages. While the former (downloadable solvers) allow users to customize parameters and node lock strategies freely, they’re often time and resource-costly to run. While the latter (browser-based solutions) allow users to browse solutions in a much more time and resource-efficient manner, they lack customizability and the node lock function.

Conclusion

To summarize, a solver is simply a program that calculates optimal strategies on the fly. A solver doesn’t actually solve the game of poker, but rather the game (some simplified version of poker) that’s presented to it through various user-input parameters. Make sure to carefully consider your inputs, how you’re studying outputs, and whether you can make use of node locking. There are various solvers on the market to choose from - both downloadable programs and browser-based - each with its own unique costs and attributes.

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