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What is GTO Poker? How to Use Game Theory Optimal Correctly

What is GTO Poker? How to Use Game Theory Optimal Correctly

From these Texas Hold'em theories, a comprehensive masterpiece has arisen, akin to a lifelong secret guide from a Texas Hold'em master – the GTO Poker (Game Theory Optimal). What is GTO Poker? How to Use Game Theory Optimal Correctly? Let's talk about it.

What is GTO Poker Game Introduction

In the past, playing Texas Hold'em focused on players' judgments of hand strength and spotting vulnerabilities. However, with the rise of online Texas Hold'em, numerous different playing styles and strategies have emerged.

From these game theories, a comprehensive masterpiece has arisen, akin to a lifelong secret guide from a Texas Hold'em master – the GTO Poker (Game Theory Optimal).

What is GTO Poker? How to Use Game Theory Optimal Correctly

What is GTO Poker and Nash Equilibrium

GTO, short for Game Theory Optimal, refers to the optimal solution in a comprehensive context. Originated from a famous theory: Nash Equilibrium, often applied in business collaborations. 

The central idea is that there exists a strategy combination among companies, ensuring that each company's choice is the optimal solution for all companies facing the same problem.

the best action path a Texas Hold'em master summarizes when facing all situations. It can be understood as navigation software for the game.

The emphasis is on balancing the advantages of all companies, so any unilateral change cannot decisively benefit any party.

Due to its emphasis on balance, and avoiding extreme values, Texas Hold'em masters specializing in GTO tend to adopt a defensive strategy in their playing style. A good defense can reduce exploitation, thus minimizing losses.

Application of GTO Poker

Up to now, no one has been able to play poker exactly in line with GTO. High-stakes players at the first level can only approach 95%, indicating that there is still a difference between the human brain and the machine.

However, this is enough to make them stand at the pinnacle of the poker world. Therefore, understanding GTO poker is a necessary path towards becoming a Texas Hold'em master.

Before learning how to apply GTO in poker, we need to understand the concept of "exploitation" mentioned in the previous section. This is also a strategy used by Texas Hold'em masters.

Actively making small raises during the game to extract value from opponents in earlier positions and, by expanding their own hand range, squeezing the strategy of players in earlier positions.

As these are small raises, when facing a strong hand from an opponent in an earlier position, we can choose to fold and only lose a small amount. Doing so can accumulate value when opponents fold.

GTO is an application designed to counter this strategy. Other Texas Hold'em masters believe that if opponents are using small, range-expanding raises to exploit, then they will counteract this.

By widening the range of hands, facing small raises, we can apply a predetermined ratio to hand ranges based on position, raising with all hands in these ranges, forcing opponents to play passively when their hand range may not be leading.

Most of the time, when only two players remain in the game, players need to hold the Nuts (the best possible hand) at a rate of less than 1.5%. This turns into a showdown between the hand ranges of the player in an earlier position and the player in a later position. GTO forces players to face exploitation-type players with a less advantageous hand range.

Here, we not only consider blocking cards or potential growth hands, but we set the opponent's range to the full spectrum. This is because facing an exploitation strategy, the opponent's raises are frequency-based rather than hand-type-based.

Therefore, the initial range does not have specific restrictions. Adjustments are only made when facing a 3bet or 4bet, where we need to consider the opponent's hand range.

What is Exploitative Play and GTO Poker

The explanation above may be more advanced and abstract. Players can understand it this way: Take a deck of cards, deal to two players, have the player in the later position raise twice before the flop every three times, regardless of their hand.

The player in the earlier position can choose to call, fold, or raise based on their hand. Continue with a 95% continuation bet frequency after the flop, a 1/3 pot bet continuation. If the player in the earlier position calls, bet the full pot on the turn.

If the player in the earlier position raises, either call or fold depending on the situation. Run this scenario 100 times to get a basic understanding of exploitative play.

Then, continue with the path of the player in the later position, changing the strategy for the player in the earlier position to face a raise every four raises.

Continue with a 2/3 pot bet frequency after the flop. After the player in the later position calls, make decisions on the turn-based on hand strength. Run this scenario 100 times to get a basic understanding of GTO defense against exploitation.


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