If you’re someone who immerses themselves in online poker culture, you’ve likely heard about “GTO Solvers” more times than you can count in recent years; and now the Upswing Poker Lab has jumped in on the action as well.
For those who are not yet familiar with solvers, the short and sweet of it is that poker-solver programs such as PioSolver and Simple Postflop are poker study tools that find equilibrium solutions based on specific inputs of ranges, bet-sizes, and boards. Or to put it more simply, GTO solvers provide solutions where neither player is able to gain additional equity by adjusting their strategy.
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I was wrong about solvers. There are many things you can learn from them. I associated people using them to the solvers themselves.
— gN Doug Polk (@DougPolkPoker) July 31, 2017
With Doug converted to a solver-believer, it seemed fitting that the Upswing Poker Lab would create tutorials and strategy videos for these tools as well, which it recently did with the introduction of cash-game crusher and solver-wizard Fried Meulders to the Upswing Poker team.
To celebrate Fried’s first seven-part module now live in the Upswing Poker Lab, we wanted to take a look at an interesting spot from within the series which explores a situation that is often considered “standard” but may in fact be much less so than it seems.
Upswing Poker Lab Review – GTO Solvers & Turn Continuation Betting
If you’ve been paying attention the last few years, you likely know the importance of balance in poker, or maintaining a similar number of value-hands and bluffs within each range. This means that if we want to be able to continuation-bet the turn with our overpairs, sets, and other strong hands, we need to do so with an appropriate number of draws and weaker-holdings as well.
One of the most common ways for players to elevate their bluffing frequency in this situation is to always bet their open-enders, the strongest draw we can have on a board without a flush draw. In fact, before the rise of poker solvers, you would have been hard-pressed to find a professional player who advocated otherwise.
However, in their exploration of a T723 rainbow board, Meulders and Upswing Poker co-founder Ryan Fee note that the GTO solver recommends checking back our turn open-ender (45s) a whopping 50% of the time!
And while that may seem high, Meulders’ explanation of this counter-intuitive play makes perfect sense:
“It sucks to get check-raised off your equity. If you check-back the turn, you can still hit on the river; and you can still bluff the river when checked to.”
Breaking down this concept a little further, if we always c-bet our open-enders in addition to our other bluffs (gutshots, overcards, ace-highs), we’ll simply not have enough value-hands to achieve proper balance. And while that might not be as big of deal against weak opponents, thinking players who notice this imbalance will be able to begin check-raising relentlessly and putting us in tough spots where we’ll have no choice but to toss our equity into the muck.
Additionally, checking-back some of our high-equity draws allows us to have some strong value-hands in our bet/check/bet and bet/check/raise lines (when we hit our draw on the river), lines that are particularly weak for non-GTO players. This means that not only do we protect these ranges by checking-back the turn, but we also get to add more bluffs on the river to these same ranges, which will prevent our opponents from exploiting us with endless check-raises and river probes.
So although this isn’t a situation that will necessarily come up every time we play, as with most modules in the Upswing Poker Lab, the message here is that the value of studying poker, and in this case GTO solvers, comes from continuously analyzing situations such as the one above, using the lessons learned to develop a holistic strategy that works well for your unique playing-style, and having your first line of adjustments ready for each type of player you face.
To learn more about Game Theory Optimal strategy and GTO solvers, visit the Upswing Poker Lab today, but not before you to our newsletter & receive our list of the best deposit bonuses, training discount codes, and entertainment from around the world of poker.
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