Poker knowledge has no best before date

Are you one of those people who always has to have the newest thing? Are you first in line to upgrade your tech just because everyone else does?

I’m not.

I claim that most of the vast amount of poker knowledge that is out there still has some value even today. No matter how old it may be.
Yet, some say that old poker books or pretty much any poker information that dates back a decade or two is obsolete. Why do you think that? Have you truly absorbed that knowledge, tested it fully, and seen it fail miserably?

Many basic poker courses from today revolve around the same questions that were already asked years ago.
We have HUDs and solvers now, and they might give the feeling of having an edge. But is it really so?

There are only so many solver scenarios that one can even try to memorize let alone recall correctly in the heat of the moment. But what matters, especially in live games, is having the skill to make calculated decisions in our heads over and over again. Because poker is about having +EV in the long run. That is the kind of opponent that I would be afraid to face. Not the one who has stared at his solver for countless hours.

I’ve heard similar reasoning also in the world of engineering. “Oh, his degree is over twenty years old. He must be totally out of the loop.”
Well, guess again. In many engineering jobs math and physics are the two major building blocks and the way to understand what is happening and how to apply your skills. And last time I checked math and physics haven’t changed. Computer programs make things easier and save time, but knowing how to operate one doesn’t make you an engineer. Learning software is the easy part.

Here’s a question.

What would it take for you to start calling solvers and HUD’s obsolete?

What if I told you that AI is coming up with something so spectacular in poker that it will blow your socks off?
Well, I’m not saying that. I’m just curious to see how quickly you might change your mind?

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The basics are the same but a lot of details have changed in NLH with the help of solvers.

Below is a summary of this article: 7 Solver Strategies That Changed Poker | Upswing Poker Level-Up #7 - Upswing Poker

Betting initiative isn’t as significant as previously thought:

Checking to preflop raiser or aggressor on previous street is due to equity advantage, not just betting initiative.

Evolution of small and big bet sizes:

Increased usage of smaller bet sizes (down to 10% pot) in various situations.
More frequent employment of larger bet sizes (150-200%) especially on turn and river.

Importance of equity advantage and nut advantage in betting frequency and sizing decisions.

Equity advantage often lies with preflop aggressor, while nut advantage can alter betting strategies.

Revised strategy for playing out of position (OOP):

Emphasis on defensive and passive play initially, followed by aggressive actions like check-raising.
Need for a robust check-raising strategy to counteract disadvantages of being OOP.

Unintuitive effects of blockers and unblockers:

Avoiding triple-barrel bluffs with missed flush draws due to blocking opponent’s folding hands.

Importance of unblocking certain hands to exploit opponent’s tendencies.

Introduction of block betting:

Betting small to prevent opponent from betting a larger size.
Advantages of block betting including wide betting range and strategic balancing.

Aggressive nature of equilibrium strategy:

Solver’s aggressive playstyle surpasses even the most aggressive human players.

So solvers have changed a lot of important details. The biggest changes I have made myself are smaller c-bet size, bigger bets on turn and river and more donking oop.

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Old poker books have a lot of good information in them, but what makes them stale is they have a lot of bad information too. If you have no way of distinguishing the good advice from the bad, then poker knowledge passed it’s used by date can do as much harm as good. You’re right that it all comes down to EV in the end, but how can you calculate EV without a solver?
BTW, a true solver cannot become obsolete, it’s just that a solver that makes no assumptions/restrictions about pre-flop ranges or bet sizes can’t be practically implemented. AI is already bridging that gap though, allowing a fairly accurate estimation of what a full solve would look like for any given ranges/sizes.
The laws of maths and physics don’t change, but our understanding of them is changing all the time. Maybe not that quickly that 20 years makes a lot of difference, but if you go back 400 years?

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Thank you for your input. Without a doubt solvers have given something for today’s poker.
Yet, especially in today’s live games one can see those 2-3 BB raises still being a standard. But discussion about this subject is certainly welcomed.

In marginal spots, sure, solver might come into play. But I’m talking about that basic poker math that you can do in your head. It’s not 100% accurate but it gives close enough results that one can estimate if one’s actions are +EV in the long run.

I would dispute this last point. The whole reason pros use solvers is because in some spots (we won’t quibble about how many right now), it can actually be quite difficult to “guesstimate” whether one’s play is +EV or not in a vacuum. The same exact play could be marginally winning, marginally losing, or winning/losing big depending on what villain’s strategy is.

Having the ability to input different presumed ranges into nodes and see what the optimal response would be is a huge advantage. If you can do that in your head, more power to you - go print money at high stakes cash. For the rest of us, a solver is an invaluable tool that can’t be replaced by mental shorthand.

But if I take the spirit of your post I think you make a reasonable point: you don’t have to be a newfie GTO whiz to win at poker. I will co-sign that 100%.

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A few other notable areas where the “OG” school differs significantly from current theory:

-raising flop with TPGK because we suspect villain’s range contains a lot of draws. we used to worry a lot more about denying equity; now the prevailing school of thought is to call down more often (raising less), and just navigate the board texture across various runouts.

-playing super aggressively with overcard(s) + nut flush draw. it used to be almost a given that you could go all in with such a hand pretty much whenever you wanted to, given you are flipping with a lot of made hands in the event you get called. solvers have shown that there are often more profitable lines than this simplified approach.

-playing small/mid PPs aggressively preflop. solvers have shown that you can very quickly get carried away with this strategy and end up playing bloated pots in way ahead/way behind spots more often than is ideal.

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You can roughly calculate the equity or your hand, but equity is not the same things as EV. If you’ve ever studied pre-flop charts then you’re already using a solver for the most common and important spot in poker. You wouldn’t get the same ranges if you just had to rely on equity.
I don’t own a solver or a subscription myself though, so of course I agree you can get decent results without one :slight_smile:

Those are valid points :+1:

I totally agree that old poker knowledge still has value. The basics of poker strategy don’t change, and being able to think critically in the moment is what really counts. New tools are helpful, but they’re not everything.

All these solvers and Huds can go on forever myself I have never used any program or app to gain at the tables. This may make me more vulnerable but with steady play, table control and the poker Gods on your side anyone can be competitive. Remember cards are very unpredictable and you can lose with the best cards on the table .

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At the stakes that I play , at my games I don’t need advanced tools and strategies or whatever . If I ever decided to move up stakes , then I might decide to try some of these tools , new or old software , huds or whatever . But at nano or micro stakes I don’t need it .

In my opinion it is everybodys choice to buy something new which is uo-to-date but im not sure if this is always an advantage when we talk about poker knowledge. If you play NL holdem or Omaha PL and similiar games which havent changed their game character for decades i cant find an argument to buy new books or pay for a brand new poker basic knowledge course or something like that.