Poker Solvers, Simulators and Real-Time Assistance Tools – A Detailed Look

by Thomas Nielsen - Sunday, June 9th, 2024 12:11

poker solvers

Poker solvers are advanced computational tools used to analyze specific poker spots (pre-flop, flop, turn or river) to determine optimal strategies in poker.

They leverage complex algorithms to simulate millions of hands and calculate the best possible betting lines to take in any given situation.

The primary objective of these solvers is to achieve a Game Theory Optimal (GTO) strategy, where a player’s actions are balanced in such a way that they cannot be exploited by opponents – (even if they know which particular cards you the player has).

How Do Poker Solvers Work?

  1. Input Parameters: Users input various parameters such as stack sizes, bet sizes, ranges (the possible hands a player could have), and specific board runouts (the community cards dealt).
  2. Simulation: The solver runs simulations based on the input parameters. It considers every possible action at each decision point, from folding and calling to raising.
  3. Equilibrium Calculation: Through iterative calculations, the solver finds the Nash equilibrium—a point where neither player can improve their expected value by unilaterally changing their strategy.
  4. Output: The solver outputs an optimal strategy, typically presented as a matrix of actions with corresponding frequencies (e.g., fold your hand 45%, call a raise 25%, or raise 30% of the time – for balance).

Understanding GTO Poker

GTO poker involves playing a strategy that makes a player unexploitable by their opponents. It does not necessarily maximize profit in every individual hand but ensures that over the long run, the player is not losing money due to exploitable weaknesses. In a GTO strategy:

  • Balanced Play: Players balance their actions to prevent opponents from identifying patterns.
  • Indifference Principle: Opponents are indifferent to the actions because each choice has an equal expected value.
  • Protection Against Exploitation: While GTO doesn’t maximize winnings against weak players, it protects against losses to strong players.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Solvers


  • Improved Strategy: Solvers provide insights into optimal strategies, helping players improve their decision-making process.
  • Training Tool: Players can use solvers to study different scenarios and understand the rationale behind GTO strategies.
  • Error Correction: Reviewing hands with solvers allows players to identify and correct mistakes in their play.


  • Complexity: The strategies recommended by solvers can be complex and challenging to implement accurately in real-time play.
  • Dependency: Over-reliance on solvers can stifle creative and exploitative play, which is essential for maximizing profits against weaker opponents.
  • Cost: High-quality solvers and the necessary computing power can be expensive, although there are a number of open-source, free poker solvers available which run on Mac, PC and even Linux.
  • GTO is not always the right play: Against some opponents you might make more profit by playing exploitative poker as opposed to a GTO style.
  • Legal Issues: It could be a felony to attempt to gain an advantage by using a poker solver at a casino or poker room, while in a hand.

Cheating at Poker With Solvers / Real-Time Assistance

With the rise of poker solvers, there’s been a corresponding increase in concerns about cheating through poker real-time assistance (RTA) applications. RTA involves using solvers during live play to gain an unfair advantage. This practice is considered cheating because it provides real-time optimal solutions, effectively allowing the player to play perfectly.

Detection and Fair Play Policies:

  • Fair Play Checks: Some poker sites have implemented “fair play” policies where they allow poker players and operators to check if specific boards were solved using their tools / apis –  and when.
  • Hand Review Systems: Players and site operators can review specific hands to check if they were solved using known solver outputs. If a hand matches solver recommendations too closely, it may indicate cheating.
  • Player Reports: Many sites encourage players to report suspicious behavior, which is then investigated by security teams using sophisticated algorithms and manual analysis.

The Bottom Line

Poker solvers and sims have revolutionized the way players approach the game, providing deep insights into optimal strategies. While they offer significant advantages in terms of strategic development and leak-fixing for players, they also introduce potential ethical issues.

The challenge for the poker community is to balance the benefits of these tools with the need to maintain fair and competitive game-play.

By enforcing strict fair play policies and staying vigilant against cheating, the integrity of poker can be preserved in the age of advanced computational assistance.

WSOP Says NO to RTA Tools & Sims

Using a device to gain an advantage was escalated to a felony by the Nevada legislature in 1985
In May 2024 following some concerns by players game integrity, the World Series of Poker (WSOP) informed players that using solvers at the poker table or in our around the tournament area is forbidden for players during the 2024 World Series.

The practice of using a solver at the table is also illegal in some states, including Nevada where using a tool or app to gain an advantage in a poker game is a felony.

“If caught using RTA/GTO software during a hand, player will be subject to penalty up to and including DQ (disqualification) / trespass,” said a WSOP statement. “We reserve the right to further penalize a player for using RTA/GTO in any other situation in our sole and absolute discretion.”