If you have even a passing interest in playing online poker, chances are you will have heard the term ‘GTO’. This stands for Game Theory Optimal and it means using a strategy which cannot be countered in any way by your opponents.
Another way to describe GTO is that it is an unexploitable strategy but what does this mean in terms of playing the game?
GTO is defensive in nature because you are trying to play the perfect set of hands yourself and relying on your opponents to make mistakes. An important aspect of this is not thinking in terms of the current hand but in terms of a range of hands both you and your opponent could have plus the hand your opponent may think you have.
This requires a decent grasp of maths because you will need to work out odds, ranges and frequencies. You can view this handy guide over at 888 Poker – The Beginners guide to GTO poker for even more information
Let’s take a look at an example to get a better understanding of how GTO might work. In this scenario, you are playing at 888Poker and have raised preflop. The player on the button is the only one to call, so you consider two possible plays. The first is to only bet when you make a top pair or better and the second is to bet only when you miss.
Both are sound strategies but if you stick to this throughout the game your opponents are going to know how to react. Therefore, you need to find something in-between, using a mix of both plays and this requires some working out.
You must work out the odds of their call being correct and balance this with the number of times you are value betting and the number of times you are bluffing. Picking the right amount of value bets vs bluffs is what makes a good GTO strategy. This is in addition to knowing when to use them in relation to the situation and current bet size.
As you begin to understand each situation better and know not only your own but also your opponent’s frequencies and ranges, you can exploit this to your advantage. Playing on your Android mobile app? Not a problem, you can still play GTO Poker!
For a GTO poker strategy to work, you must have played against someone for a number of hands. You cannot use assumptions as this will not work. If you are playing online poker at a top website such as 888Poker, this can be tricky as you may not play against the same opponents often enough to avoid assuming. However, even after a few hands, you can begin to build up a picture of their frequencies.
When using GTO, do not look at the outcome of a hand individually. You may have a good hand or a bad hand but this should not be taken in isolation. Just because you got lucky on the river does not automatically mean you made the right play. Work out what the correct GTO strategy is for certain times of the game and assess it following the end of the game.
This will tell you if you made the correct long-term call and that is what GTO poker is all about. You must work on your game, both at the poker table and away from the poker table for a GTO strategy to be successful. Practice makes perfect and no matter what poker variant you play, it will help you perfect your game and strategy.