Posts Tagged ‘Game-Theory Optimal’

Tadas PeckaitisTadas “My Poker Coaching” Peckaitis

Sometimes I feel that GTO poker strategy is almost a myth. Many players are not exactly sure what it means and, more importantly, when to implement it to achieve good results. Without going into complex explanations, I will try to define it in a very simple way.

GTO strategy shows how to balance your range and your value hands-to-bluffs ratio in a way that no one can exploit you. If you can execute GTO play most of the time, you are guaranteed to at least break even against the best players in the world.

GTO Poker Strategy

Therefore, your best bet is to learn GTO fundamentals and use those against very good or unknown players. So let’s figure out what advantages GTO play has and how you can improve your poker stats.

GTO Advantages

The reason top poker players utilize GTO play is that it carries some distinct advantages, namely:

• You’re guaranteed not to lose money

Using GTO play practically guarantees that you will not lose money even against the strongest players in your games. This is obviously a huge benefit and, if implemented correctly, could make you a very tough player. It is probably one of the greatest advantages of GTO play because not many other strategies can help you play profitably against excellent players.

• It’s great against good regulars

Game theory optimal is the best strategy to use when playing against top-level competition. First off, these opponents are not going to be making huge mistakes, so you will have very few chances to exploit them. Most of the time, irregularities in their game accrue because of the variance in their hole card distribution and, if you don’t stick to GTO strategy, you could end up making adjustments that will hurt you.

Moreover, if you drastically change your game to try and exploit someone, that makes you easily exploitable yourself. Obviously, good players will spot this very quickly and make you pay for it.

Using GTO strategy, you will be able to play even against the toughest opponents who try to exploit you. If you can balance your ranges, it’s only a matter of time until your opponents start making mistakes. Thus, it gives you a reliable way to win even against better players.

• It’s the best strategy against unknowns

Just as you are not able to exploit top regulars because they don’t make big mistakes, you are not able to exploit unknowns because you have no idea how they play. So, if you find yourself playing against new players (or at anonymous tables online), GTO is the best strategy to give you an edge over your competition.

• It’s perfect when you are not sure of the proper play to make

When you’re not sure of the right play to make in a particular situation, trying to balance your ranges is the best option and it ought to be your priority. It does not matter whether you are playing against a tough opponent or recreational player.

For example, if you’re considering betting the river as a bluff and are not sure if this is profitable because you don’t know how that player plays in this spot, simply balance your range, choose value-to-bluff ratio according to your bet size, and you are good to go. If you choose another route, you’ll have to guess what tendencies your opponent has and you can easily end up making the wrong decision. Thus, GTO play gives you a huge advantage in this spot and lets you make the most profitable play without making unreasonable assumptions about your opponent.

• Learning GTO can help you find ways to exploit your opponents

Even though GTO strategy is intended to help balance your own ranges, it allows you to exploit other players as well.When you know how a balanced range looks, it is much easier to spot deviations from it in your opponent’s game. Once you spot them, you can attack them. This alone can help you improve your game and considerably increase your win rate.

Now that you’ve read through all of the advantages the next step is to figure out why this approach is not always the answer, and I will cover that in my next article.

For now, remember that GTO strategy will help you make the best decision when you have no information about your opponents or are unsure how to exploit them. Stick to this strategy at the beginning and move to exploitative play only when you see massive leaks in your opponent’s play.

Texas Poker Store Nighthawk Poker TableLearn and practice GTO every time you take a seat at a poker table and your results will improve.

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Tadas PeckaitisTadas “My Poker Coaching” Peckaitis

The first decisions that you have to make in a hand are always pre-flop, and choosing the right path will make your life much easier on the coming streets. Many players make these decisions automatically without even thinking of alternative lines or adjustments that could increase their win rate, and that could cost a lot in the long run.

I strongly believe that you need to have a solid plan with balanced ranges as your starting strategy. If you still do not have one, make sure to grab my poker hands cheat sheet. However, to reach better results, you have to adjust these ranges versus different players,instead of playing it blindly.

Adjusting versus recreational players

One of the most common changes in your strategy should be loosening up and playing more hands when you are up against weaker competition. First of all, you can easily open more hands because these opponents will not 3bet you much as a bluff and play very straightforward post flop, giving you many chances to outplay them. Moreover, their strategy will be very obvious, and you will always know where you stand in the hand.

Thus, when you face a raise from a passive player on the river, you can easily fold all your medium strength hands knowing that it is the right move. Taking into consideration that these players will not give you a hard time post flop, will straightforwardly play their hands and make many mistakes, you can easily play more hands versus them and considerably increase your win rate.

Adjusting versus tougher opponents

There is a whole new story when you are up against someone good. Contrary to the first example, these players will punish you quite hard for any irregularities in your game, and you really do not want to get out of line against them.

The best adjustment is to play a bit tighter and try to gain range advantage over them. If you can do that and have better hands pre-flop, then you obviously will have more made hands post flop as well and can build your stack without taking enormous risks. Apart from tightening your ranges a bit, you should not deviate from balanced strategies. Your best bet is to play in an unexploitable GTO (game theory optimal) way and stay away from  trouble.

If you can do that and exploit all the mistakes of your weaker opponents by changing your pre-flop ranges, you will gain an ultimate edge and be on the right track for success at the poker tables!

Send me your thoughts, comments or questions!

Tadas PeckaitisTadas “My Poker Coaching” Peckaitis

Poker players sometimes miss a lot of value just because they do not think about the reasons for a particular play. For example; always know WHY you are choosing to bet or check. One of the most important decisions you will face comes on the flop (assuming you bet pre-flop) when you decide whether or not to make a continuation bet(c-bet). Most of the time it dictates the course for the whole hand so make sure to play it for the right reason.

Ideally, you want to c-bet in one of these situations:

  • Betting for value. If this is the case, better make sure that your opponent can have some worse hands with which he would call. Otherwise, it is not a value bet and you can end up overplaying your hand.
  • Betting for protection. If you have a medium strength hand, which is vulnerable to over cards, betting for protection is a definite. You deny your opponent’s equity and don’t give away free cards.
  • Bluffing. Like in the first point, you need to make sure that you can potentially make your opponent fold a better hand. I see many players who choose to bluff with showdown value hands, which is usually a mistake because your opponent is unlikely to fold a better one. In this case, you’d be better off checking.

When you know what the purpose of the bet is, it is much easier to plan the hand ahead and choose the right play. Moreover, this way you will make more educated decisions, which will add up to a bigger win rate, and that is something everyone wants to see.

Missing a c-bet and checking instead

You should adopt a similar thought process for checking as well. Just like before, understanding why you are checking will help you build a better strategy. Here are the main reasons for making this play:

  • You have a very strong hand on the board which completely misses your opponents’ range.
  • You block many value hands of your opponent.
  • You are not afraid to give free cards.
  • The board is much better to your opponent, and you are just giving up.

If any of these statements is true, you are probably better off checking instead of making a continuation bet. In a case where you have a strong hand, you let your opponent catch up, giving you a chance to win more on later streets. On the other hand, when you have nothing, you can see the turn and hopefully improve your holding or even bluff, which gives you an additional chance to win.

Summing it up

Obviously, it is not that black and white and to make the best possible decisions, you need to consider other factors as well. You need to understand how to play on different boards, when you are IP (In Position) and OOP (Out Of Position), when to use GTO (Game-Theory Optimal) or exploitative strategies and much more. Luckily, you can learn all of this reading my detailed guide to making a continuation bet to master this aspect of your poker game.

Check out this video on C-Betting and Barrelling …

Send me your thoughts, comments or questions!