Solvers and “Unnatural Strategy”
I really love the way poker is right now. Because of solvers and tools things have changed so much. 5 years ago people would play and just assume they played pretty good. The only time you would make a mistake in your mind would be when you misjudge your opponents range – “He won’t bet this sizing with X” but has X kind of thing. Now with solvers there is so much “unnatural” strategy, lots of “thin value raising”, “protection raising”, “block betting”, “blocker bluffing”, “making indifferent” etc. Thus when playing it’s very easy to make the wrong assumption about our own range, thinking we should be aggressive or passive with a certain combo or levelling ourselves into assuming that x or y is standard. What this leads to is reg vs reg very often both not understanding their own range and thus both butchering the hand.
An example would be I work on playing btn vs bb 30bbs deep and see that on J62 I should be raising J5 vs a cbet, in game 12 tables later beep beep my turn. Ok J96 this guy cbet from the hijac and it’s 55bbs deep I have JT, sure must be a slam dunk x/r right? Well hmm, beep, beep, ok whatever, raise. What sizing? He bet bigger than what I studied in Pio, ok 3x can’t be too bad. He calls. Ok J963 great turn, hmmm how much did pio bet on the turn? But wait spr was different ok erm beep beep beep, yeh half pot seems ok, he calls again? Wow. Ok J9633 ok yeh wtf do I do? Beep beep I remember pio sometimes likes to “blocker bet” but is this good? I have a Ten that blocks his draws, oh but it blocks his best bluff catcher that I beat, beep beep, 10, 9, 8, ok ok whatever let’s “blocker” alright he goes all in?? Can I just call the flop again? Ok whatever I’ll mark it and “solve it” later. What it leads to though is lots of reg vs reg aggression and fun pots that keep you excited and intrigued during every session.
So, one of the problem is with solvers is that it’s absolutely impossible to play tonnes of tables and play close to optimal on them all, since decisions are so complex and ranges interact on such a complex level that once you combine these with ICM and during the next two weeks also bounties then literally nobody will ever be close to playing perfectly. Even if you get a super complex flop decision right and also get a really tough turn decision right, you still have to get the river decision correct or the flop raise straight away becomes -ev since it’s only good if you play the whole hand well. This is especially true as later streets will see bigger bets going in, thus really impacting your win rate in the hand.
So what we will see is a mash up of everybody attempting to play correctly by applying concepts that often are applicable for other situations they’ve studied but aren’t necessarily like this. That leads to a mental state where you are either 1) too under confident in yourself because of bad variance, 2) over confident in yourself because of running good. Running good isn’t necessarily winning tournaments or winning a big bounty but it can be in decision making too. You could half pot that JT on the river, get called by AK and be like yesssssssssss I am the greatest, I understand this pio solver stuff great. I am sims. I am math. I am pio. Or you could also get called and be super unsure of yourself in your session, have a negative emotional spike and doubt your next “solver weighted assumption” decision.
What usually happens is I play a session, I have anywhere from absolutely no idea what to do to “I think this is right” in 20+ spots and I try to “solve” them afterwards. Then, I don’t get into the exact same spot again for 2 weeks in which that time I have “solved” 10×20 other spots and when I get the J93 again I can’t remember what the result was again because I’ve done so much in the middle.
“Work Smart, Not Hard”
What I’m trying to get at is to try and “work smart, not hard”. Trying too hard sometimes isn’t the answer, simplifying things is really crucial but giving yourself a break is even more important . Perhaps most importantly to me is just because your opponent made a play you know is bad, don’t just throw him into a category of bad reg or post the hand to friends or smirk/laugh etc. Creating negative energy around yourself or it being natural to look down on people because of a mistake is a very dangerous mindset to be in and a really poor habit to have. Remember that you also will make mistakes every day you play. If you approach your competition with a little sympathy and empathy then in the long run you’ll be a lot happier.
Good luck on (and off) the felt!