RTA Poker: What exactly is an RTA in Online Poker?
What does RTA in poker stand for?
RTA stands for real-time assistance. While anything from preflop charts, to HUDs and mass-database analysis (MDA) officially counts as RTA in poker, what is most commonly meant is a poker software that is capable of recognizing your current game situation as you play and shows you solutions to those situations in real-time.
The premise is then that you will be unbeatable, but the reality is that this depends on a few factors that I will outline in this article.
When did the first Poker RTA appear?
RTAs in Poker have been rumored to exist for almost a decade now. Back then Ike Haxton was known as one of the best online poker players in the world, and people thought he might own a so-called "Dream Machine'', a machine one would dream of having. Back then the idea of somebody possessing an RTA was still unheard of because the technology wasn't as developed as it is today.
The Case of OBORRA
Around 5 years ago, the name OBORRA made a big scene in the high-stakes online poker world, where he was playing the highest stakes of no-limit hold'em and crushing the toughest regs there. Later on, he got banned, allegedly for using RTA.
2 years back another notable case appeared, the one of Fedor Kruse, a German online cash and MTT reg who was first only break even at 100nl. Within a record time of six to twelve months he was now playing 500/1k, so 100knl, the highest stakes online, crushing the best of the best, battling LLinusLLove, Trueteller, Iimitless, and so on, and beating them for millions of dollars.
Soon after, his roommates outed him for using an RTA while he was playing online poker, and he got banned from the poker sites, such as PokerStars, and GGPoker.
Online poker has continued to evolve since then, and the use of real-time assistance is becoming more and more prevalent and accepted. In the next 2 years, there is still a huge opportunity to print money, as there aren't that many RTAs on the market yet, and most of them are of low quality. Within 5-10 years, however, I predict that the online poker market will be very different from what it is today.
How does an RTA in online Poker work?
Poker RTAs work by having some method of analyzing your game situation. Here the quality of the software makes a big difference. There are RTAs that are very easily detectable by poker sites and those will lead you to be banned very soon. Then there are others who have invested more in their technology and use methods that are harder to detect.
Next is the solution display. For this, the companies have presolved thousands of solutions using poker solvers that allow you to run simulations of game situations and solve them, such as PIOSolver, Simple Postflop, MonkerSolver, or are simply using presolved solutions of websolvers such as GTOx, GTOWizard, Odin, and so on.
Both of these approaches come with different challenges. The RTAs using solvers and running sims themselves will often struggle with understanding the game theory behind creating quality sims, as poker is a very complex game from a game theoretical perspective, and thus most sims end up being poor in quality and won't be sufficient to win consistently in the long-run vs good regulars at the online poker tables.
The latter approach of using websolvers has the same issue, but in-built: using pre-solved solutions of other providers is a good method to have access to a lot of solutions, but here too it is common knowledge that the quality of the websolver solutions is also insufficient and unreliable.
High Barrier to Entry
Recognizing and displaying solutions is therefore at the core of a functioning poker RTA, but that's not where the story ends. Good service providers that aim to last and have successful clients have to invest heavily in making sure their service remains undetectable, is easy to use, and provide customer support and long-term customer relations.
As this market has an extremely high barrier to entry, it will be interesting to follow the development and see if any star players will rise in what currently still looks like an early environment filled with mediocre products.
How will RTA usage develop in the future of online poker?
As with most disruptive technological advancements, RTAs are expected to face backlash from the sites and communities. Though, as much as poker sites are trying to prohibit the usage of RTAs, it’s going to be increasingly difficult, as there will always be companies that are one step ahead, and that is just the natural evolution of the game.
Real-time assistance in poker will become more and more common over the next five to ten years. Contrary to popular opinion, this does not necessarily imply the end of online poker. We had people proclaiming the end of online poker since 2007, year after year there have been other reasons why this game would end, but it never did.
The Truth About RTA
In this case, from the communities perspective, once people realize that not all RTAs are perfect, in fact, most of them have their weaknesses, they will be less afraid and will accept that some players are using real-time-assistance, have the choice to use it themselves, or just battle against them.
Just like in the stock markets, there is algorithm trading going on backed by companies that invest billions of dollars into improving their technological systems to gain an edge, yet there are players who do not use heavy tech and still dominate the market, like Warren Buffett. I believe the market will become more fair, once people have their own choice whether they can use technology to their advantage or not, and there will be many who choose to continue playing while deciding to rely on their human intuitions, or perhaps they simply prefer playing the game that way and like the challenge.
The Importance of Recreational Players
Additionally, recreational players simply enjoy the game. They don’t play comparable volume to professional poker players, and they are not here to monitor their winrate over hundreds of thousands of hands. A small winrate decrease over their small samples is not going to matter to them, as they play for entertainment and the thrill of it, and perhaps even enjoy the challenge both mentally and philosophically of battling what modern technology has to offer.
The Site's Perspective
From the site's perspective, they actually don’t have anything to lose by allowing RTA users to play large volumes on their sites, as they just make money from the rake. (In fact, rake increases have a much larger impact on our winrates than a few RTA users in the pool). The sites are only against RTAs, because they are concerned about the long-term user base, and worry about people playing less, with more RTAs. That’s all it is. Once they notice that the development is inevitable, and people will continue playing, they will suddenly change their terms and welcome RTAs with open hands. At the end of the day, they only care about their bottom line.
What can you do about facing an RTA in online Poker?
The answer will always depends on the type of RTA you are facing. Versus most RTAs today you can get away with studying, learning correct poker theory, and playing solid against them. They will have trouble generating significant EV vs good regulars, so there is a good chance you will break even against them and do well vs the weaker players to continue earning a good income playing poker. If, however, you are facing a high-end RTA, then, truth be told, you will lose money whenever you play against that opponent.
The Strategy Going Forward
The strategy, therefore, is to get better at detecting RTA users and leaving those tables, or arming yourself with software that counters RTA like GVISION. We go more in-depth about the concern of enemy RTAs in this article below: