How Poker Solvers work, and what to consider in your studiesSep 08, 2022
If you are serious about poker, you are either already working on your game with a solver or considering to start using one.
However, do you ACTUALLY know what solvers do and how they work?
This is important because it will help you understand why the solver wants you to play a certain way and ultimately help you improve your poker intuition.
But before we jump right into the topic, you must understand what a solver actually is.
A solver is a poker software that calculates “optimal” strategies (called solutions) for user-inputted scenarios.
The most commonly used solvers are PioSolver, GTO+, and Simple Postflop. They all work in a very similar way, so it doesn’t matter too much which one you use.
Today there are online “solvers” which has all the possible solutions. These sites are, for example, GTO Wizard, Odin Poker, etc.
It can make sense to use both for a very practical study method. And in this article, we’ll have a close look.
Alright, so how does a solver actually work?
In short, solvers calculate an optimal strategy based on parameters set by the user.
Such a parameter could be:
- Preflop Ranges
- Bet sizings
- Raise Sizings
- Stack Size
- Pot size
- Donking options
Based on these parameters, you will get an optimal solution.
However, it is essential to understand that the optimal solution gets calculated based on the parameters YOU put in.
Which is the reason why different players come up with different “optimal solutions.”
Maybe a player has different preflop ranges, which significantly affect the possible strategies…
Maybe the player is using a different Cbet sizing…
Therefore, following a Solvers Strategy like a bible is not a good way to study and play poker.
In the end, you could construct strategies with every possible sizing, etc.
Another thing to remember is that the solver assumes that each player knows the other player's complete strategy from preflop until the river.
Just think about your opponents, and you’ll realize quite quickly that this is simply not the case… Nobody can know the exact strategy other players are using.
So… If the outcome you’ll get from a solver is that different based on the parameters you yourself put in…
How should you think about solvers in general?
You need ranges that are close to what your opponents are using. Otherwise, you will get results that are useless in-game.
So whenever you see a solution, you should always ask yourself:
“Why is the solver coming up with this range? Which sense does it make to play my hand like this?”
Sometimes, the answer will be easy. Other times you don’t know precisely why the solver comes up with a particular strategy.
However, the more you work on your game using a solver, the better you will understand the patterns the solver keeps repeating, and you’ll start to understand spots you didn’t understand before.
The most essential hands are the ones that come “unnatural” to us as humans.
Understanding these hands will improve you as a player and build a poker intuition that will serve you well, even if you haven’t solved a specific spot before.
Patterns can be bet sizing schemes, overall frequencies, and hands that can get used in a mixed strategy.
That’s it for this article about how solvers work.
The next article will look at how we can use a Solver to improve our game.
In the meantime, you’ll find tons of valuable (and free) poker coaching videos on our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kb8hmQiw4EY&list=PLYohDo5aDR1f8iokrAZdo7GKHMULeDaKi&index=19