How to break down a poker hand: GTO style

In theory, you can play a style of poker in which it is impossible for you to lose in the long run. No matter what your opponent does, you have turned poker into a zero sum game and at best all they can do is break even. By playing this way, all they can do is break even and the bigger mistake they make by calling or folding too much/ too little the, more you profit. Of course, this is just theory. 

Obviously, to make more money, you need to exploit your opponent's weakness and to do this you can't always play this balanced, gto style. Learning to play at least close to this is imperative if you want to be a good long term player. You will see 0 high stakes cash or tourney regs that don't have a great concept of playing balanced as balance is the key essential to GTO play.

 

On top of it, if you understand a balanced style (GTO) it also allows you to see where your opponent is imbalanced which allows you to exploit them even further. GTO play is also essential to exploiting your opponent. Even when people don't understand they are doing this, they do it. For instance, you notice that that someone is a nit that folds their big blind WAAY too much, so you raise their blind with a hand that you would not raise had a player that calls the correct amount were in the big blind. This would be an example of you understanding a concept of balance or GTO but knowingly becoming unbalanced yourself by raising a hand you shouldn't in order to exploit their bad play. 

 

How to play a hand with a balanced range (note: i'm not saying this is a proper range, but I am using this range to make it easy): You raise from middle position with a range of all pocket pairs (22-AA)  all suited connectors 45s and up so (45s-AKs), suited one gappers (68s, 79s, 108s, j9s ), plus offsuit broadways (AK, AQ, AJ, A10, KQ, KJ, K10, QJ, Q10, 10J) 

 

The flop comes:   Kd, 8h, 3s  you would want to do something like this with your range:

 

Bet 2/3 pot for value: KK, 88, 22, , AA, AK, KQ=  39 combos

Bet 2/3 pot as a bluff: (10J, Q10,QJ,A10 all combos)  j9s 109s, 45s 56s 67s 79s, (only d,h,s combos)= 82 bluff combos

 

By keeping your value to bluff ratio on around 2:1 on the flop with a 2/3 pot sized bet, it does not matter what your opponent does in the long run you will profit in the long run.

 

KJ K10- This board is very strong for your range and these hands will act as bluff catchers. If villain bets we will generally look to call down all 3 streets with these hands. If they check, we will look to bet turn in river with these hands. 

 

pocket pairs 99-QQ on clean runouts we will look to check call these at least once and on a flop check we can safely bet these on the turn. 

 

Look to check call most of your pairs and AQ at least once so you opponent can not just bet to get you off hands. Remember, to be balanced, you are going to have to lose at showdown sometimes. 

 

 

 

I can sub to this

GTO stands for what? Game Theory something?

In

yeah whatever you say headlock herbert

unleashes MMA threads on twoplustwo

Hitman Herbert - I think the real trick is training yourself so you can do this accurately in actual play.

Yet, GTO is Game Theory Optimal. If you have seen "A Beautiful Mind" this is the branch of mathmatics that came about becuase of it. Look up "The Prisoner's Dillema" for an easy example of how it works. It it used in war, marketing and all the top poker players use it.

 

To do this in actual play you def need to study, the more you work at it, the more you will understand it and the eaiser it comes. But an easy way to break it down is this, and this doesn't apply to every situation but is a great guideline:

On the flop:

-Bet your strongest hands: Flushes, straights, sets, top pair top kicker etc, balance this by:

Betting your draws that dont have showdown value (meaning it is very unlikely that if it does not improve it wont be good after the river: gut shots, open ender, non-nut flush draws

When there are not a lot of draws possible on the flop, you need to "create bluffs"  In the example above, there are like no draws but we can't just always bet for value or we arent balanced so in the case above we are forced to create bluffs. Here our best bluffs would be to use backdoor flush draws and hands that BLOCK villains value range. We know that villain is going to call us if he is holding a king, so above we are also using our broadway hands as bluffs (Q10, 10J, QJ etc) because by us holding Qs 10's and J's it is going to make it a lot less likely our opponent has KQ, KJ, K10 thus making our bluff more profitable.

 

Slow playing: In the above example (K 8 3 flop) if you are looking at hands to slowplay you really only want to slowplay hands that BLOCK YOUR OPPONENTS VALUE RANGE. So we know his value range is high on kings, so if we have KK, we are blocking his value range so that would be a great hand to slowplay. AA, 88 and 33 are hands we would want to fast play because we are not blocking really any kings except for AK with AA and generally people would reraise with AK so villain won't have that too much.

I'll check this out

Also it very important in the example above to check back some of your weaker kings (KJ, K10) as they will act as bluff catchers and protect your range so people can not bet you off your range. In the LR it will help you win with hands like 99, 1010, and 78 b/c ppl can't just bet you off your hands b/c you have these stronger but not super strong hands in your range.

In for GTO

In

Sub

Easy concepts to start thinking "GTO" in terms of poker

 

1. Stop thinking about the two cards in front of you and think about ALL the hands you would have in this situation (your range). Fish, donkeys and nits think only about their hole cards.

 

2. This should basically be a fundamental law of poker: Bet for only 1 of 2 reasons:

   1. Bet to make worse hands call (for value)

   2. Bet to make better hands fold (semi bluff/bluff)

Back in 2007 poker was a good game because the vast majority of people suck because they would use faulty logic and bet for all sorts of reasons such as "Betting for Information" or betting to "See where you are at" Again you find good players at the top levels betting to get worse hands to call and better hands to fold no good players are betting for information.

Stop betting your middling hands on the flop! If you don't know if you are betting for value or as a bluff just check call, brah! Your hand has showdown value.

 

Betting to protect equity: " I don't want so and so card to come, so ill bet" There is value in betting to protect your equity in some spots but it is WAY overdone by people and it comes at the sake of balance. You can't alwasy have both and not protecting your equity is the lesser of two evils because when u r balanced, you can't lose in the LR. Protecting your equity is much more important in multiway pots and later in tournaments.

14er -

Easy concepts to start thinking "GTO" in terms of poker

 

1. Stop thinking about the two cards in front of you and think about ALL the hands you would have in this situation (your range). Fish, donkeys and nits think only about their hole cards.

 

2. This should basically be a fundamental law of poker: Bet for only 1 of 2 reasons:

   1. Bet to make worse hands call (for value)

   2. Bet to make better hold fold (semi bluff/bluff)

Back in 2007 poker was a good game because the vast majority of people suck because they would use faulty logic and bet for all sorts of reasons such as "Betting for Information" or betting to "See where you are at" Again you find good players at the top levels betting to get worse hands to call and better hands to fold no good players are betting for information.

Stop betting your middling hands on the flop! If you don't know if you are betting for value or as a bluff just check call, brah! Your hand has showdown value.

 

Betting to protect equity: " I don't want so and so card to come, so ill bet" There is value in betting to protect your equity in some spots but it is WAY overdone by people and it comes at the sake of balance. You can't alwasy have both and not protecting your equity is the lesser of two evils because when u r balanced, you can't lose in the LR. Protecting your equity is much more important in multiway pots and later in tournaments.

And please start using GTO in more than just poker. For instance,

"Dang this food stores produce department is GTO af!"

or

"Did you see that Anthony Pettis cage kick? That was pretty GTO"

or

"HitmanHerbert, you need work with the ladies. Your pick-up game is by no means GTO"

In 

Fern 10th Planet - yeah whatever you say headlock herbert
What you did... I see it.

I think the part where people start failing is once they get this basic preflop and flop concept down is they self destruct if the villian peels the flop and they dont know if they should fire the 2nd barrel or give up. At higher skilled games people will peel the flop with air on you a good % of the time if they have position just to exploit this strategy. Mind you this will beat like 95% of players.

GTO is less important the lower the general skill level of the table. Against weak players you don't need to be balanced, can fold or bet in spots where normally it would be exploitable to do so.

Caught_clean -

I think the part where people start failing is once they get this basic preflop and flop concept down is they self destruct if the villian peels the flop and they dont know if they should fire the 2nd barrel or give up. At higher skilled games people will peel the flop with air on you a good % of the time if they have position just to exploit this strategy. Mind you this will beat like 95% of players.

That's why position is so important, particularly against a better player.

andre - GTO is less important the lower the general skill level of the table. Against weak players you don't need to be balanced, can fold or bet in spots where normally it would be exploitable to do so.

This. 

 

Its actually suprising how many actually good players can have trouble exploiting terrible players. They bluff people who dont fold and lose value betting like they are playing against solid players. How many times I hear a guys say "How does he call me there..." etc then the same guy will mock me when I bet three times the pot with the nuts and get called with top pair no kicker.