GTO in Poker: A Beginner’s Introduction

GTO in poker has gained massive popularity in recent years among players. But what exactly is it? Is it true that you can employ GTO in your games and increase your winning percentage?

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The answer isn’t as clear-cut as you’d think. After all, poker is a complicated game that has yet to be solved. That’s doubly true when there are multiple players at the table.


So to begin, let’s define what GTO in Poker is.

What is GTO in Poker?

GTO (Game Theory Optimal) is a poker strategy grounded on mathematics. It’s a type of play that balances your bluffs and value hands that leaves no room for exploitation by your opponent.

In other words, GTO in poker is a solid approach that can yield the most profit in the long run. But if that were true, shouldn’t everyone adopt this playstyle?

Yes, they should. However, a GTO strategy is a bit rigid. It doesn’t leave a lot of room for flexible plays.

While a GTO play is difficult to exploit, you won’t be able to exploit your opponents either. This is because your strategy remains the same regardless of your opponent.


Here’s an example

Say you’re playing against a highly loose player. The GTO model instructs firing a 3bet on the turn equal to 10 big blinds.

Since you’re going against a loose player, they’ll be calling your 3bet most of the time. So it doesn’t matter if they’re drawing dead. They’re not going anywhere. Do you see the problem?

You could’ve fired a 3bet the size of 30 big blinds, and the loose player would’ve called all the same. In other words, you could’ve won more money if you had adjusted your bet sizing instead of rigidly following the GTO model.


When to rely on GTO

One of the best scenarios to use GTO is when you’re playing against unknown opponents. You still don’t know how these guys play. And thus, you’ll need some time to gather information on them.

Playing a GTO strategy here is ideal since you aren’t giving your opponent much room to exploit your play. Meanwhile, you’re maximizing your chances of winning and collecting the necessary information from your opponents.

Once you’re confident enough to have a fair read of the players on the table, you can switch your gameplay into an exploitative strategy.


Exploitative play in poker

As the name suggests, exploitative play is where you take advantage of your opponent’s mistakes. Even strong players still have leaks in their game. Find these holes and start exploiting them.

But as has been alluded to earlier, an exploitative play leaves you open to exploitation yourself. Here’s another scenario.

Let’s say you’ve noticed a player who usually folds from the small blind when facing a 3bet. Naturally, you’re incentivized to pressure that player to get him to fold his hand.

The problem is that other players may pick up on your strategy and 4bet you. They know you’re going after a weak opponent. Thus, they’ll use your target as bait to lure you in, then fire a 4bet your way to get you to fold. 


Exploitative play and GTO in poker

It’s for this reason that combining both GTO and exploitative play is a good idea. Applying both strategies to your gameplay will make it difficult for your opponent to read your preferences.

Of course, competent players will recalibrate their gameplay as you adjust yourself to the new table dynamics. So use both approaches on your games. That way, your flexibility will allow you to weave back and forth between the two poker strategies.


GTO in poker isn’t perfect, but it’s exceptionally beneficial

While GTO isn’t perfect, learning it can significantly boost your game. Just remember to apply it when facing tough opponents.

Sure, it’s nearly impossible to commit GTO in your memory. There are too many variables involved. But a solid understanding of it will yield more profit in the long run.

Against weaker opponents, you’ll want to switch to an exploitative style to extract the most value. But, again, observe other players at the table and accordingly react if they decide to go after you.

Are you interested in using both styles in live poker games in Sacramento? Then try visiting Capitol Casino, located at 411 N 16th Street, Sacramento, CA. Feel free to contact us at 916-446-0700 or INFO@CAPITOL-CASINO.COM.

We regularly offer Texas Hold ’em poker tournaments and exciting table games. If you need to unwind, we also have a bar and restaurant section serving mouth-watering dishes, delicious cocktails, and ice-cold beverages.