Poker Strategy: What Is GTO Poker?

Poker has been around for almost two centuries. Nowadays, it is a staple game in casinos and online. It is easy to find poker games of all stakes, from million-dollar tournaments to $0.25/$0.50 cash games for beginners. One of the main reasons for its popularity is its ease of setup and access. The rules are simple and can be learned quickly. At the same time, online poker offers a way to play poker anytime, anywhere, requiring just a device with an internet connection. With the simple rules and elements of luck, it can be hard to see why poker is so competitive.

Skill matters much more than luck in poker for several reasons. For one, luck is only short-term. The hands you get will vary from game to game. The one consistent part of your gameplay is your strategy. Another big reason skill matters in poker is that you play against other players, not the casino. That means your strategy depends on how you interact with others and not just the cards you are dealt. With this in mind, strategy has changed significantly over the last two centuries. One of the main forms of strategy in modern-day poker is known as Game Theory Optimal (GTO) poker. This poker guide aims to define GTO poker, give the pros and cons, and clear up misconceptions surrounding it.

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GTO poker

GTO stands for Game Theory Optimal. It is a style of poker where you make the least exploitable decisions at any moment. It is the opposite of exploitative poker which involves analyzing your opponents’ decisions and changing your game plan to exploit their mistakes. GTO involves perfectly balancing your ranges, ensuring you do not bluff or bet too much or too little. This way, your opponent cannot exploit your decisions, and they can only make their own mistakes.

A great way to describe GTO would be with rock-paper-scissors. A perfect GTO strategy would be playing each option equally often. Your opponent will be unable to find mistakes like relying on paper or rock too much. It is not a risky or aggressive strategy for maximum profit; instead, it is a defensive strategy that aims to reduce your losses as much as possible. With a perfect GTO strategy, your opponent could theoretically do nothing more than break even against you. You would always be ahead since you make the optimal decision in every scenario.

GTO misconceptions

It is crucial to remember that GTO stands for โ€œgame theory optimalโ€. No player or machine has yet to figure out a perfect GTO strategy for No-Limit Hold because there are countless scenarios, with factors like player count, bet size, ranges, and so much more all considered. Hence, when most players describe a strategy as GTO, they usually mean a general approach based on game theory, which we will use for the pros and cons. Another misconception is that GTO is the best in every scenario or that GTO is useless compared to exploitative play. The truth is, GTO is just as effective as exploitative poker; the two are meant for different things. GTO is not what you should be focusing on playing against more inexperienced players, as they are likely to make mistakes exploitative poker could profit off. It is better against experienced players looking for your errors since proper strategy will leave few mistakes for them to exploit.

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GTO pros and cons

Game theory-based strategy has many advantages compared to the exploitative. Here are a few of them:

It is true that GTO is the best strategy in poker. You are guaranteed to either make a profit or break even, and the latter requires your opponent to use the GTO strategy themselves. However, there are still cons to basing your strategy on game theory:

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Where to try GTO Poker

We hope this article taught you how to play poker using game theory. The best way to improve is through practice on sites like GGPoker, the world’s largest poker room. Poker is best played online for many reasons. The pace and accessibility of online poker are superior since you can play more games from anywhere at any time. Online poker also lets you use poker trackers and heads-up displays, which are essential to take your game to the next level. GGPoker, unlike other sites, offers this software for free to every user. Sign up at GGPoker today!