What Are The Best
Poker Solvers For 2020?
Poker solvers are an essential tool for those players looking to advance their game to the next level. In this article we take a look at all the different solvers and help you choose the best one for you and your goals.
If you play any amount of poker or watch poker on television, you may have heard the term “solver” or phrase “running sims”. What these refer to are advanced software programs that run poker simulations which gives you an output of game theory optimal solutions. In easy to understand terms, they are simply programs that tell you the game theory optimal to approach a situation based on the variables that were input into the program such as bet size, stack size, and preflop ranges. While not so common a few years ago, nowadays they are commercially available and much more common due to the advancement in hardware and software. It’s also not just the elite, high stakes players that use them. You will find average, recreational players that play lower stakes may use a solver to study and everyone in between.
There are numerous ways that you can use a solver to study and to improve your poker game but that is not what this article is for. In this article we will be discussing the various solvers available on the market giving you a brief overview of each solver along with some pros & cons of each solver. At the end we will help you determine what solver is the best solver for you depending on what you need. It should be noted that while technically programs like HRC and ICMizer could be considered a solver, for the purpose of this article when we say solver, we are referencing the GTO solvers like PioSOLVER, MonkerSolver, Simple Postflop, GTO+, etc.
If you have heard of one solver, there is a good chance that it is PioSOLVER as it is the solver that gets talked about the most. PioSovler started out as a private project and was eventually released back on March 1st, 2015. Since then it has become one of the most used solvers on the market and when people refer to solvers, often just say “Pio”. If you watch any training videos that deal with using solvers, there is a good chance they are using PioSolver in the video. This make Pio a good choice for players new to solvers as there is a fair amount of content out there related to using PioSOLVER.
PioSOLVER comes in 4 different configurations is you will, with each one having different features than the other.
PioSOLVER Free (Free)
This is sort of like a trial version of PIO that allows you to solve one flop (Qs Jh 2h) with different turns and rivers. While this won’t really be good for any in depth studying as there is only one flop, it will give you a basic idea of how the program works and what it is capable of as it contains most features that are available in the paid release.
PioSOLVER Basic ($249.00)
This is their basic version of the solver with full flop, turn, river functionality that includes activation on 1 computer. It is reasonably priced but comes with some downsides, the first being that it can only use 6 threads on your CPU. What this means is that if you have a CPU with more than 6 threads, they won’t be available to use. This is a pretty big deal as most modern-day CPU’s have at least 8 threads, with some higher end machines having upwards of 32 threads. The less threads used, the slower the calculation will be. This is a good start if you are just getting into solvers as it will still run a low of calculations at a good speed but if you want to start running more complex simulations with different bet sizes and what not, you may want a solver that will utilize all of your CPU’s threads, especially if you bought a higher end machine to run simulations. Another limitation of basic is that it is not scriptable. What this means is you cannot setup multiple simulations to be run concurrently after another. You will have to run one simulation and then setup/start the next one once the first one is complete. Whereas if it was scriptable you could setup multiple simulations at once and then have them run concurrently after each other. This is a very valuable tool when you are running numerous spots.
PioSOLVER Pro ($475.00)
The Pro version of PioSolver is just like the basic version but it has more features. The first thing to note is that the activation is good for 2 computers, this is beneficial to those players that may want to run simulations on 2 computers at once. For instance, they may wish to setup a server and run the larger, more complex simulations there while running smaller simulations on a home computer. Another feature of the pro version is that it can use up to 16 threads, unlike the 6 threads basic can run. What this means is that if your computer has the capability (up to 16 threads), the solver will be able to utilize all of them, making your calculations faster. Still should be noted that it’s only 16 threads and some higher end computers may still have more threads available. The last thing to note about pro is that it’s fully scriptable. This allows you to setup numerous spots and then have them run after each other, which is very efficient when running 100’s of simulations.
PioSOLVER Edge ($1,099.00)
This is the Cadillac version of PioSolver and usually only needed by advanced players that are really looking to get into studying GTO and solver outputs. The most important difference between it and the other versions is that it has the capability of solving preflop spots whereas the others just solve postflop based on the preflop ranges you input. By doing this you can come up with a full GTO based strategy starting with your preflop ranges. You can activate this on 2 different computers and are free to move them from computer to computer without any limits. This is beneficial when using different servers to run your simulations. Another important thing to note is that the Edge version can use as many threads as you have available on your computer and when running preflop or large post flop simulations this is much needed. You also get priority support when you purchase Edge which may or may not be that important to some players.
Pro’s & Con’s of PioSOLVER
- Easy to find supplemental material on how to use
- Different price points/products for all players
- Industry standard solver
- Preflop solving capabilities (edge only)
- Free version to try
- Some may consider there to be a steep learning curve
- Basic/Pro versions don’t use all CPU threads
- Even Edge can’t use more than 64 threads
- Full version may be expensive to some
While Simple Poker may not be a name you have heard of or are familiar with, they are certainly at the top of the market when it comes to solver offering a wide range of solver-based products. Like PioSOLVER, Simple Poker first came on to market in March of 2015 with their initial launch of Simple Postflop. Since then they have been steadily pumping out premium GTO products which we will discuss in further detail below.
This is their standard version of a GTO solver that will solve both preflop and postflop spots for two players. It has a lot of the same features that other solvers have but one that is not included in all solvers is the ability to solve preflop spots. PioSolver Edge and MonkerSolver can both solve preflop spots, but they are priced at $1,099 and $550. You also can purchase cloud credits which will let you run certain spots by request in Simple Pokers cloud. This can be a great feature for those players that don’t have the hardware capability to run some of the larger preflop sims that require a huge amount of RAM. The user interface is very nice and easy to understand, displaying the outputs in an easy to read way. One cool feature of Simple Poker is that it uses different algorithms to make the calculations depending on what kind of hardware it is being run on. If you have a fast, powerful PC it will make use of the faster more resource intensive algorithm while if you have a slower computer, it will make use of a less resource intensive algorithm. It includes a license which can be activated on two different computers such as your desktop and a server. This is great if you want to run preflop sims on your server and postflop sims on your desktop.
Simple 3-Way is Simple Poker’s post flop solver for 3-way spots. Like it would imply, the main difference between this and Simple Postflop is that it solves 3-way postflop spots while Simple Postflop only solves 2-way postflop spots. The price is good for one year, can be installed on one computer, and will let you run unlimited post flop calculations. Because it involves another player it requires at least 16gb of RAM on your computer with an Intel i5 or equivalent processor. It also has a nice user interface and displays all the information in an easy to read and understand way. The one downside for some players is the pricing model. You must renew it every year and at $250 a year that can add up down the road.
Simple Preflop is the multi-way preflop solver from Simple Poker. While Simple Postflop will also solve preflop spots, it will only solve spots with two players. Simple Preflop will run simulations with up to 10 players, using numerous stack sizes, bet sizes, and more. If you really want to study preflop poker, this is an excellent tool to do so. One thing to note about running preflop simulations is that a lot of spots will require a powerful computer with a lot of RAM. If you are trying to run deep, full table spots with numerous bet sizes, calls, raises, etc., you will most likely need have your own server or rent one. It’s not uncommon to need 200gb of RAM to run a preflop simulation. To give yourself an idea of how much RAM you will need, download the trial, build some trees, and see how much RAM you will need. Like Simple 3-Way, they recently changed Simple Preflop to a yearly subscription-based pricing model and at $250 a year, can add up over the years. That being said, it’s a very valuable tool if you are interested in studying preflop situations and probably the best preflop solver on the market in our opinions. At the time of writing the only other preflop solver that will run multi-way spots is MonkerSolver but compared the Simple Preflop, the user interface is ugly and hard to navigate.
Like PioSovler, Simple Poker also has an Omaha solver which they call Simple Omaha. Here is the description taken from their website…
“Simple Omaha – is the first Nash equilibrium solver without any abstractions that allows to solve optimal strategies for Omaha on postflop. The program solves GTO strategies for the defined tree of bets and input ranges of two players in various postflop spots.”
Like all the other Simple Poker products, the user interface is well designed and laid out, displaying all the information in an easy to read and understand way. One really cool feature is that it will solve for each fixed limit Omaha, pot limit Omaha, and no limit Omaha, so no matter what format of Omaha you play, it will give you solutions. All calculations are done locally on your computer and because Omaha involves 4 cards it requires that you have a pretty powerful computer in order to run the simulations. The system requirements on their website state that the minimum RAM is at least 32GB but is recommended to have 128GB or more. If you don’t have a computer that meets these requirements you can always rent a server and run them there. If you are a more DIY’er you could even buy your own server. It’s priced at $249.00 per year and includes activation on one computer.
Simple Poker also other solver related products that are worth checking out but won’t be featured in this article. They include Simple Nash, Simple GTO Trainer, and Preflop Hero. More information about these products can be found by visiting simplepoker.com.
Pro’s & Con’s of Simple Poker
- Very clean user interface
- Wide range of products
- Reasonably priced
- Good support via Discord
- Can use all threads available in CPU unlike PIO
- Uses cutting edge algorithms
- Fastest GTO solver on market – performance comparison found here
- Only solver that can solve 3-way spots without abstractions
- Simple Preflop can solve preflop multi-way spots
- Can be a steep learning curve to learn all features
- Annual subscription model on some products
GTO+ is another solver which came onto the market in September 2017 from the makers of Flopzilla and Cardrunners EV. It’s a fully functional postflop GTO solver for two-way pots. It probably has the nicest user interface of all the solvers on the market as well as being the most user friendly. The solver is capable of using all threads in your CPU as well as scripting capabilities. It is recommended that you have at least 8GB of RAM and a quad core processor.
One of the biggest selling points of GTO+ is the price. At $75 for a lifetime license it is an absolute steal and tremendous value. It’s good for one computer but you are able to add a second license for an additional $40. As a bonus the $75 includes a license to Cardrunners EV, one of the original advanced poker analysis tools.
One feature that you won’t find built into any other solver on the market is the play against the solution feature. What this is, is a GTO trainer that allows you to actually play the hands in the solutions against an opponent that plays according to a GTO strategy. It will tell you if you made the right decision, keep track of how well you do against the opponent, and will help you better understand how to implement the solutions into your game. Play against the solution really makes this a must buy for any poker player that is wanting to study GTO strategies. When compared to other GTO trainers on the market, the price just blows it away and it includes a fully functional solver.
Pro’s & Con’s of GTO+
- Price point
- User friendly interface
- Excellent support from developer
- Play against the solution feature
Probably the second most popular solver behind PioSolver, MonkerSolver is a fully functional postflop, preflop, multi-way, and Omaha GTO poker solver. Being able to solve all of these different situations makes MonkerSolver a good choice, it would cost you at least $700 to be able to run all these spots using different programs. Like all the other solvers, if you want to be able to run large, preflop or Omaha simulations you will need to have a powerful computer with a large amount of RAM. You can get away with having 8GB RAM but will be limited to what you can run.
There are some downsides though, the first being that support is limited and it appears the developer has stopped working on the project. The developer does not respond on the support thread on 2+2 and there are only a handful of knowledgeable users that offer sporadic help. Many users report having issues with being able to open the software or unable connect to the server to authenticate. The other issue with MonkerSolver is the user interface, it’s just ugly and cumbersome compared to the other solvers on the market. That being said there is quite a bit of material and videos out there on how to use it so it’s quite beginner friendly.
- Postflop, preflop, multi-way, and Omaha solving capabilities
- Price considering what is included
- Lots of supplemental/training material on the web
- Lacks support
- Developer may have abandoned project
- Terrible user interface
What Poker Solver is Best for Me?
Now that you know what solvers are available to you to choose from, you may be asking yourself which one is best for you? Like a lot of things in life the answer to that is, it depends. So what we have done is broken down what solver is best for each player type and what they are looking to accomplish.
Best GTO Poker Solver for New Users
The best poker solver for a new player looking to get into studying GTO strategies via solvers is GTO+. It’s priced at $75 for a lifetime license and has a beautiful user interface that is very user/beginner friendly. It also includes a play against the solution feature which is a GTO like trainer that helps you implement the GTO strategies in your poker game by playing against an opponent that follows a perfect, GTO strategy.
Best GTO Poker Solver for Advanced Players
If you are an advanced player looking to run both preflop and postflop GTO simulations, we would recommend PioSOLVER Edge. It’s not exactly cheap but if you are playing high stakes it will cost less than a buy-in and will pay for itself if you use it and apply what you learn. This is the solver used by a lot of elite high-level pros and is often the one seen in training videos.
Best GTO Poker Solver for Cash Game Players
Cash game players would probably be best with GTO+ and add in Simple Preflop if they wish to run preflop simulations. Even with both programs, you are only looking at $325 compared to the $550 or $1,099 you would have to spend on MonkerSolver or PioSolver Edge to be able to run both postflop and preflop simulations. If you are looking to run multi-way postflop spots as well as preflop spots, MonkerSolver will probably be your best bet. Alternatively if you just want to splurge you could go with PioSolver Edge.
Best GTO Poker Solver for Tournament Players
Just like cash game players, most tournament players will be fine with GTO+ and Simple Preflop if they wish to run preflop simulations. Both of these solvers have the option to run calculations based on ICM instead of EV which is crucial for tournament play. We really don’t see any reason for tournament players to buy any other solver unless it’s just a personal preference as these will do everything you need to do and will be the cheapest option.
Best Preflop GTO Solver
Even though PioSOLVER Edge will solve preflop spots, it’s not our first recommendation for most players that are looking to run preflop simulation due to its cost. The preflop solver we do recommend is Simple Preflop by Simple Poker. It’s reasonably priced, easy to use, and does everything you would need a preflop solver to do.
Best Omaha GTO Solver
If you prefer your poker with four cards instead of two and need a solver, we would recommend you check out Simple Omaha by Simple Poker. It’s reasonably priced, has a nice user interface, and is easy to learn how to use. Additionally it will solve fixed limit, pot limit, and no limit formats of Omaha poker. If you play both NLH and PLO and are looking for a solver MonkerSolver may be the right choice for you.
For most poker players that are looking to study GTO strategies via a GTO solver, GTO+ will be the best option due to its price, user interface, ease of use, and play against the solution feature. At $75 you will simply not find a more valuable poker tool on the market. Throw in Simple Preflop if you want to look at preflop simulations and you will have everything you need to take your poker game to the next level.