“This is your last chance. After this there is no turning back. You take the blue pill, the story ends; you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes” – Morpheus
There are two poker worlds out there. The first, as commonly represented in live poker (until you reach the upper tier of players), involves making almost every decision as an exploit. We used to say “feel” players but that isn’t quite doing it justice. It is more scientific than that. There is plenty of logic and thinking going on. Yes there is the “feel” part, this guy is steaming, this guy is tighter than normal, looser than normal, he’s two minutes into a tableside massage etc. But you take that and you process it logically, you put him on a range, you make adjustments. It’s good poker. You can live in that world forever. If you are good at that kind of thinking it will be a profitable world. So go ahead, take the blue pill, you will live your poker life happily ever after. No really, it’s fine, there’s nothing more to see.
Or… you can take the red pill.
It’s not too late to see the game through a different lens. As Morpheus would say, “all I’m offering is the truth, nothing more”. The most fundamental paradigm shift in poker is really only a couple years old and even really great players are just now starting to pull ahead of their peers using their new found knowledge. In the history of poker there has never been a greater opportunity to close the gap on the elite players as there is right now. The way the game is played at the top level has changed but the tools that make it possible are only just now reaching their potential. But if you really want to see how deep the rabbit hole goes you are going to have to accept the following truth.
Deliberate practice is key to becoming an expert. This is true in most every other field, how can it not be in poker? Much as we like to kid ourselves, playing poker is not the same thing as deliberate practice. The vast majority of poker players don’t practice which creates a huge opportunity for those who do. Deliberate practice is repetitive exercise designed to hone a specific skill. It’s drills repeating the same spot over and over just like an athlete. David Beckham obviously didn’t perfect his free kick technique in-game.
Today we have products like DTO (a mobile app GTO trainer for tournament players) and Simple GTO trainer. Simple trainer also has a newer competitor at a higher price point called Lucid GTO.
DTO Mobile App
Simple GTO Trainer
Simple GTO Trainer in particular (though Lucid seems to cover similar ground) is the closest we’ve come to the holy grail of poker training. It takes a little getting used to but for those willing to put in some work it’s a new frontier. Like DTO it quizzes you on the spots you pick but it is not limited to tournament scenarios, and critically, it allows you to plug in your own custom solutions (the ones you make yourself with PioSolver or Simple’s own solver). The implications of that are significant. You can use your own custom ranges and node locks that more closely match how a real world opponent might actually play in your games and practice how to counter it. You can develop a training regimen with focused target areas like a professional athlete would. And since you are using your own custom solutions, with the click of a button, you can jump back and forth between a training question and the overall sim it came from. That last bit is really educational because you get to see the surrounding context for the drill you just performed. What happens if the suit of one of the cards changes? What happens if the kicker goes up or down in rank? Being able to visualize that in context within Pio while you are practicing is where the real understanding is going to come from. This isn’t about memorizing the solver’s output it’s about making sense of the solvers response to a specific spot.
Simple GTO Trainer integration with PioSolver
It requires some effort and a little bit of tech savvy but if that doesn’t scare you then I can’t recommend Simple GTO trainer enough. I don’t promote products on here very often but for serious players I think its the best way to study. In particular doing custom drills and being able to cross reference with the solutions has really improved my understanding of a lot of spots. Personally, I don’t use their solver engine as I’m a PioSolver user but Simple’s integration with Pio works great. I find the combination of Simple GTO trainer pro with the custom Piosolver trees that I build myself is the best way to achieve deliberate poker practice in 2021. If you are interested in checking it out you can find out more at Simple GTO Trainer