5 GTO Myths That Should Be Avoided
September 8, 2022
Poker is one of the most complex and challenging casino games out there.
It requires a good understanding of the rules and gameplay and time and effort invested into practice. So, having any type of help in mastering this game is considered a plus.
In light of that, a number of various poker strategies have become popular recently.
Some of them have been around for a while and have proven useful, but many others are more novel and experimental. As a result, there are a lot of myths surrounding them and their application.
This article will dispel the common misconceptions related to one of the most famous strategies known to the poker community — GTO. But more on that below.
What Is GTO?
Before we start debunking any myths related to this strategy, you should know what GTO stands for. GTO is an abbreviation for Game Theory Optimal — a poker strategy that guarantees a win regardless of how well your opponents play.
Next to the exploitative playing style, GTO is the top researched winning strategy in poker. The strategy is applicable to No-Limit Texas Hold’em, one of the most played poker variants online.
Unlike the exploitative strategy, GTO is a defensive rather than aggressive poker-playing technique. Players that use GTO don’t attack their opponents but defend themselves during the game. This optimal poker strategy is supposed to lead your opponents astray and make them make an error. It involves advice regarding hand ranges, pot odds, bets types, c-betting, bet sizes, bluffing, semi-bluffing and other related notions.
It’s an incredibly detailed playing technique that involves mathematical calculations, so it’s might be difficult to understand on an amateur level.
Common Misconceptions About GTO
GTO sounds like a dream solution if we look at it from afar. You’ll find tons of articles online that swear by its effectiveness and urge all players to learn it. However, like any strategy out there, GTO is not perfect. There is also a lot of false information floating around the internet about this strategy. So, so let’s take a look at some of them to learn more about this famous gambling technique:
All World’s Best Poker Players Use GTO
NLHE poker is a casino game that is yet to be solved. Unlike some other casino classics, this poker variant has too many factors that affect the game’s outcome. Experts refer to games like this as games with too large of a game tree — there’s too much information for it to fit into a computer, let alone one person’s memory.
As a result, strategies like GTO are not perfect. GTO is hard to understand and implement in its entirety, even for professional players. This is why many of them, even players who specialize in No-Limit Hold’em, use GTO concepts to create a strategy of their own.
We can take Jonas Mols, a famous Belgian professional poker player, as an example. Moles, also called “Otb_RedBaron“, is one of the greatest theory players globally.
According to poker experts and based on his own statements, he never relies on GTO alone.
Instead, he uses a mixture of elements from both exploitative and GTO strategies to structure his play. The same is true of many many other of his successful peers like Linus Loeliger, Ben Tollerene and Benjamin Sulsky.
GTO Strategy Works Against Beginner Players
As mentioned above, GTO is an extremely complex and elaborate strategy. It requires you to know the ins and outs of NLHE poker and have near-omniscient knowledge of your opponent’s strategy. You have to understand how they are going about the game to know what mistakes they’re likely to make and let them make those mistakes frequently.
You won’t accomplish much if you try using GTO with amateur players. They are still learning to play, so they tend to make a lot of fundamental mistakes. They also rarely rely on any kind of strategy on this level, so you cannot discover any pattern to the way they’re playing. Since GTO is based on discovering patterns in your opponent’s game, it won’t be very helpful here. Instead, you’ll have to structure your play to fit their errors individually if you want to win.
Attacking pays off much more when you’re facing beginners in poker. So, you might find the exploitative strategy and/or its elements more useful in these kinds of games. We suggest you save GTO for high-level games and tournaments.
You Have To Be a Math Genius to Use GTO
GTO can sound quite intimidating, from what we have already discussed above. Nevertheless, this theory doesn’t require that you be a math expert. You can use numerous GTO concepts to play without having extensive knowledge of algebra or complex mathematical equations.
For instance, you can start by using simple GTO formulas like the ones related to pot odds and minimum defense frequency (MDF). Pot odds represent the ratio between the size of the pot and the size of the bets, and you should have them in mind in every hand in the game.
MTF percentage will tell you how much you should call or raise to prevent your opponent from profiting from bluffing.
You can calculate the former by dividing your bet size by the sum of pot size, bet size, and call size. To get the latter, you can divide the pot size by the sum of the pot size and the bet size. You’ll get percentages by multiplying the result numbers by 100.
GTO Doesn’t Apply to Preflop
While most concepts in GTO have to do with the postflop, you can also use GTO for preflop. What’s more, it’s advisable not to skip using GTO elements in your preflop strategy to establish a good foundation for your play postflop.
Depending on the situation, you can find GTO tables with information about what hands you should open with. Generally speaking, players out of position (OOP) need to start with tighter hand ranges than those further in the circle. Mind that there are charts with different advice regarding hand ranges depending on what action you’re facing in the game — a fold, a raise, or a call.
GTO Is the Most Profitable Strategy
GTO does not focus on making the most profit but aims to win against a perfect poker player. That’s why it’s called an optimal game theory. It doesn’t focus on exploiting your opponent but on defending you from their strategy. So, many GTO moves favor balance rather than the expected value.
This is another reason why GTO won’t be useful when you’re playing against weaker opponents. It would be a waste not to exploit the players who make basic mistakes and have obvious holes in their strategies. You can land much more money by avoiding this popular game theory in this case.
GTO works best when you’ll be playing with unknown opponents or when you know you’re facing fearsome poker players.
It will allow you to defend yourself from getting exploited and buy you enough time to discover their potential exploits. If they’re using GTO as well, your GTO knowledge will help you identify those exploits and make use of them.
So, choosing to use GTO should always depend on the game you’re playing and the players you’re facing.