A very high profile cheating scandal appears to be getting exposed that shines a light on the threat of real time GTO solvers.
Over the weekend a story broke which may set the tone for future struggles in the online poker industry, and that is the topic of Real Time Assistance (RTA) software.
German high stakes player Fedor Kruse was outed by his former roommates last week for using RTAs to very quickly climb the stakes in cash games. They posted the details on 2+2 as well as reported it to PokerStars & GGPoker.
Kruse, a former successful Call of Duty streamer, is said to have run two computers to play poker. One to play, the other with a ‘dream machine’ that contained a massive database of GTO solved hands which the whistleblowers said he consulted while playing. He used two mice so that the poker room security could not track unusual mouse click behaviour as he moved between the tables and the database.
The roommates posted screenshots of discussions they had with Kruse as well as his PC set-up (below). They said they confronted him about this alleged cheating, but he considered it to not be unethical. A few of the housemates staked Kruse for some of his cash games, which they admitted to and said they regret. This included notable poker streamer Henri Buehler.
You can consult the 2+2 thread for details on how he used the software and how to spot it, but to sum up he would “consistently makes very non-intuitive plays, which to very little surprise are all “solver-approved.”
Why is this story important?
This is a very tricky but important story to cover, because it touches upon a new form of potential cheating which affirms a lot of fears people have about solver technology. It also is something some people may not consider to be cheating at all.
Kruse, after all, did not influence the action in the way that, for example, a colluder would do. Likewise the software appeared to be not be interacting with the poker client, he was instead searching a database of similar spots.
A solver essentially harnesses a lot of computing power and runs a large number of simulations to provide a solution to a poker hand. So far none are fast enough to use in real time, but this database of presumably hundreds of thousands of previously solved, similar, hands appears to be a quick workaround.
Some will argue how is this different from a player consulting a shove/fold chart or information in a poker book? This is a fair criticism and some poker charts are banned for use in real time by most poker rooms. The short answer is that the information in something like a shove/cold chart is limited and is used more as a memory aid for something the player has already learned. Using an RTA is consulting information the player has never studied before.
Using a chart or having notes is like taking a study prompt into an exam. Using an RTA is like taking the answer book into an exam.
This is currently more of a threat in cash games compared to MTTs, and is more useful the higher up the stakes you go as the regulars all play a style that is close to GTO.
One thing is for sure, how the industry adapts to RTA software is going to be one of the biggest challenges poker faces going into 2021 and beyond.
Do you consider using RTA software cheating? Are you concerned about it at your stakes? Let us know in the comments: