Modern Exploits

In the solver era, it's common to suggest that we have all the answers at our fingertips. Plug the spot you want to learn into Pio or Monker, come as close to the solution as possible, and the money will flow in your direction. What is often forgotten is that a human being still needs to sit down and play poker, armed with nothing but their personal understanding of what the solutions are trying to accomplish. Every player will have consumed a different amount of information, and each will use it in their own way. Our opponents, even the very best in the world, play quite differently from your GTO trainer.

When reading an output directly off a piece of software, different players will hone in on different aspects of the data. Some will get excited about a low-frequency bluff opportunity and begin executing it (usually a bit too often) at the earliest possible moment. Others will meticulously analyze the best blockers and unblockers, searching for the perfect combos (and easily forget how often they're supposed to use less-than-perfect ones). I personally tend to generalize and simplify, searching for commonalities with other scenarios and overall truths about the game, which means I'll occasionally miss unique details in a specific spot. I believe this helps develop good poker intuition, but that is a topic for another post.

If we recognize that the solution is not the end of the road and that each player will maintain a unique style, we are tasked with reading into our opponents' tendencies and adapting. What parts of solver strategy do people tend to replicate accurately? Which parts are too difficult to come close to? Are there inputs you've considered that your opponents have not? The highest-stakes players are manipulating these constraints to exploit their opponents within today's "solved" game. For an example of this in action, consider the recent HUNL matches between Stefan11222 and Limitless, two top-tier players who are well studied but often choose to deviate strategically. I did a recent Run It Once video covering this dynamic, and I also recommend the Youtube content on Finding Equilibrium and Guerrilla Poker if you're interested in taking a closer look.

I should reiterate that you absolutely must put in the effort to understand theoretical baseline strategies if you're going to compete at the highest level. There are amazing tools on the market that make it easier than ever for poker players to learn GTO. Without developing this knowledge, any exploits or adjustments you believe you are making are nothing more than guesswork. But recently, in my coaching, I find we are often challenging the bet sizing parameters that forced a sim to behave a certain way or looking back at the preflop inputs to understand why a certain blocker matters so much postflop. While using solvers has improved my game immensely in the past few years, I always remain skeptical of the outputs until I can make sense of what influenced the result. We have to remember that these solutions all have built-in assumptions, and we must evaluate whether those assumptions are realistic against a human opponent.

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