GTO poker solvers have revolutionized the game of poker since they hit the mainstream a few years ago. The result has been a huge transformation of the strategies players try to implement, as well as the kind of work necessary away from the table.
What Is GTO?
GTO – Game Theory Optimal – is a mathematical approach to solving the game of poker. In years gone by, we all heard about how we needed to be balanced in our strategies, but GTO takes it a step further.
Complete strategies allow a player to see how different parts of the game interact with each other in an unexploitable way.
How Does a GTO Poker Solver Work?
GTO poker solvers work by allowing us to input both our range and our opponent’s range with set bet sizes.
This data is then used to calculate a perfectly unexploitable strategy for a particular point in a hand. The program will show exactly which action we need to take with each combo in our range, and for which bet size.
What Does That Mean for the Players?
Poker players have been caught in a whirlwind with their high-stakes idols known to be using GTO strategies.
The problem is that this knowledge doesn’t come easy. The number of hours required to play this style of poker is ridiculously high. The net result is that this has led to a wider range of strategies that players have to choose from when learning to play poker in 2019.
Examples include the classic exploitative strategy where we aim to read our opponent’s mistakes and adjust accordingly. Also, a common GTO “lite” strategy is to continuation bet 100% in position and 0% out of position. This idea has its flaws but it is still very common today.
What Are the Consequences for the Game of Online Poker?
There has been much scaremongering since the arrival of GTO poker solvers. People are being told that the game is solved and will die out soon enough.
This is completely unfounded and untrue. It has been said by high-stakes players that catching up will be very difficult when the game’s very best are still working so hard, but this doesn’t mean that it’s impossible.
It’s also true that exploitative strategies are more profitable when playing against players who make mistakes. This covers almost the entire community.
Erik Seidel recently tweeted high-praise of England’s Stephen Chidwick, who he thinks is the best tournament player in the world today. While having a deep understanding of GTO, Chidwick is always highly focussed and alert to opportunities to make exploitative adjustments.
Anyone buying into the GTO players are boring narrative, should watch Chidwick’s brilliant SHRB performance. You’ll see a focused & creative player who’s the best in the game right now
— Erik Seidel (@Erik_Seidel) September 15, 2019
All of these strategies can live together, and only time will tell which one comes out on top. One thing is for certain, poker is extremely difficult to play at a high level. This means that in-depth GTO knowledge will never be needed to make a healthy profit.
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