When playing online poker or browsing for poker tournament tips, you may have heard about something called a poker solver. So, what is a poker solver, and should you use one to help improve your poker play? Explore what this tool is, its pros and cons, and whether it is right for you.
What Is a Solver in Poker?
Very simply, a poker hand solver is a software tool that helps you make game theory optimal (GTO) decisions for particular situations in a game of poker. This digital assistant will provide the player with information on the best move to make once the player has provided certain information about the current state of the game. There are many poker solvers on the market, but four of the most popular are GTO+, Monker Solver, PioSolver, and Simple Postflop. It is one of the top poker tools used by pro players.
How a Poker Solver Works
A GTO poker solver is not a simple piece of software. The way it works is rather complex, which may be quite obvious to anyone who has actually tried to use one of these tools, but we will provide a basic rundown of how this software works.
For a solver to help you, you are required to input quite detailed information to help you make the right choice. Many online poker solvers require the following information and much more:
- Starting ranges
- Bet size options
- Raise size options
Based on the information that you submit, the solver will generate a GTO response to the current state of the game.
Should I Use a Solver?
When you play poker online, the first question you might want to ask is not whether you should use a solver but whether you are allowed to. Poker solvers fall under the category of real-time assistance (RTA) tools, and many poker sites have strict rules banning the use of this kind of software. You can find all this essential information and more in this beginners’ guide to GTO poker strategy. Poker sites have developed ways to detect these tools and have banned players for using them when they are not allowed to do so, with the players forfeiting any winnings or funds in their accounts. This has led to players developing other ways to avoid detection, but this doesn’t change the fact that the use of solvers and other RTA tools on these sites is not allowed when playing a live game.
However, RTA tools are not banned at all sites, so here’s what you should keep in mind when deciding whether you should use a poker solver at an online poker site:
- Poker solvers are based around optimal play and make their decisions based on what the “best play” is, both for you and other players. This means that if a player may make an unexpected or possibly even weak play, the guidance from the poker solver may not, in fact, be the best decision. This may not be the case forever, as some people theorize that, like chess AIs, poker solvers will eventually get to the point where they can always make the perfect play.
- Highly skilled players may pick up that you are playing a particular way (regardless of whether they know you are using a poker solver or not) and find weaknesses in your style to exploit (even if poker solvers give you the best decisions in theory, that’s not always the case in actual games of poker.)
- Poker solvers are expensive, with some versions coming in at over $1,000, so it’s not a tool you should just casually pick up.
- These tools are also more complex than one might expect, giving them a steep learning curve.
- While poker solvers may not be allowed during live play, you may find them useful as study tools where you input hypothetical situations, and it shows you how to make the most efficient decision.
- They also require a relatively fast computer to run if you want quick results.
Ultimately, poker solvers and using them as one of the many poker tools to help you study may prove useful as you start to play against higher-level poker players who play the game more efficiently. At lower levels of play, the solver will more than likely be less effective at helping you win against your opponents, but as you reach higher levels of play, it can help teach you how to play better.
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