Many retired NBA players scoff at today’s basketball, believing it was harder and more physical back in their day. Many retired soccer players condemn this era’s diving culture and can only dream of the huge contracts enjoyed by today’s superstars.
And many poker players–maybe even some of you reading this now–pine for the days before solvers existed, when players had to forge their own strategies through trial and error, roundtable discussions and natural intuition.
But whether you like PioSolver or not, one thing’s for sure: it’s here to stay. Moreover, your opponents are using it every day to improve. The average poker player today is better than they’ve ever been. Ignore tools like PioSolver and you may get left behind.
You don’t have to use a solver yourself, of course. You could simply sign up with BBZ Poker and gain access to custom, solver-approved pre-flop ranges that will give you instant feedback on how to improve your strategy and your win rate. You could also join our Daily Seminars and go through the sims we’ve already run for you.
But if you’re willing to put the work in with your own solver, you might be surprised at the beauty you find.
WORKS OF ART
“I personally like to [run sims on PioSolver] because I’m fascinated by the game at a fundamental level,” says Wey “CRAIbaby” Xie, BBZ’s cash game coach extraordinaire. “This might sound extreme to some extent, but you can perceive a really nice game tree like it’s a piece of art.”
Think about it. When you’re visiting an art gallery, you stand in front of the paintings and sculptures and examine them. The closer you look, the more you usually find, and whether you like the piece or not, it leaves a mark on you. Xie believes the same is true for game trees. “You can investigate them and be surprised by what the game has to offer.”
In Xie’s Cash Game Bundle, he dedicates an entire section to help you understand solvers, with videos introducing how to use them, the philosophy of PioSolver, its parameters, and its features.
The more advanced you get, the more “perfect” the game tree you can find. “I try to get as close to an equilibrium solution as possible and then try to understand how that works,” says Xie.
The equilibrium solution is the game theory optimal (GTO) way to play a particular spot, but this also implies that your opponents are playing GTO too. “In higher stakes games we’re going to assume that our opponents are playing very well,” says Xie. “We can assume they’re going to try and play this kind of strategy and then we do our best against it. But for the most part, this is going to be unrealistic. Your opponents are going to be making a lot of mistakes, even at higher stakes.”
When you start to run your own sims, Xie says you don’t necessarily have to look for the perfect solution. “Just try to understand why this kind of strategy is optimal,” he says. “Then we can start to understand how the game works and gain an intuition for how ranges and sizes affect what optimal play looks like.”
According to Xie, if you repeat this approach enough: “At some point, it’s going to feel like you have a little PioSolver computer in your mind.”
KEEP IT MANAGEABLE
When Xie was coming up in the game, he would experiment with a lot of different PioSolver methods. One thing he suggests for those new to solvers is to restrict the sizes you use to keep things more manageable.
“It might be useful to only play a two-size strategy [to begin with], where you only have a half-pot bet and a pot-size bet, or 33%-pot and 75% pot, for example,” he says. “Then over time, you can expand your sizing pool to include overbets etc.”
This will simplify the game tree, making it easier for you to follow, but you’ll still be learning how to play an optimal solution based on sizings you have available. “You will lose some expected value compared to having more sizing options, but this won’t be too important as most of your value is going to be coming from your opponents making mistakes anyway,” says Xie.
Xie believes there’s value in learning the game in this restricted way. “You forgo a little EV, but you will never capture it anyway if you don’t understand how to play the game.”
The downside of this method? You’re going to have to run more sims in the future.
“But rest assured, you’re going to have to do that anyway as your understanding of the game increases,” says Xie. “Even I find myself correcting some of my sims every now and then. It’s just part of the learning process.”
Kickstart your learning process today with Wey Xie’s Cash Game Bundle.