New York Times publishes an excellent piece on solvers in poker

Rather than focus on the potential downsides this is a curious exploration of how solvers have changed poker strategy.

jason koon Jason Koon

Whenever a mainstream news organisation publishes a piece about poker there is a sense of nervousness in the community. It’s rare that such an article will be nuanced enough to reflect the game accurately, and often they resort to exaggerating the less savoury aspects of the game. 

Kudos then has to go to Keith Romer of the New York Times who managed to write a brilliant piece on the impact of AI, specifically solver technology, in the modern game. 

I wrote about the way top poker pros have harnessed A.I. to play the game in ways that approach theoretical perfection for the @NYTmag

— Keith Romer (@MrKeithRomer) January 18, 2022

The author follows Seth Davies, Jason Koon, Isaac Haxton, Doug Polk and Ryan Laplante at last year’s World Series of Poker to talk about how software like PioSOLVER has changed the game. 

Of course the piece touches on the potential hazards the technology brings to the game, most notably Real Time Assistance (RTAs) but for the most part it is a curious exploration into the adoption of game theory in poker. 

A rare balanced & nuance mainstream article

poker Seth Davies

It not only talks about the history of game theory in poker, it also goes into significant detail about things like ICM, bluff-to-value ratio, polarised ranges, mixed strategies, staking and winrates. 

The best players are able to reverse-engineer the A.I.’s strategy and create heuristics that apply to hands and situations similar to the one they’re studying. Even so, they are working with immense amounts of information. When I suggested to Koon that it was like endlessly rereading a 10,000-page book in order to keep as much of it in his head as possible, he immediately corrected me: “100,000-page book.”

The Super High Roller scene also is featured, and we hear a lot from Davies and Koon as they play the $250,000 bracelet event then study their key hands afterwards. 

It really is worth a read and clearly is an early favourite to be next year’s Global Poker Awards ‘Written Content of the Year’ winner. 

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Barry Carter

Barry Carter

Barry Carter is the editor of and the co-author of The Mental Game of Poker 1 & 2, Poker Satellite Strategy, PKO Poker Strategy & the new book Endgame Poker Strategy

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