Break even poker aka GTO

crdplayer52crdplayer52 Red Chipper Posts: 5 ✭✭
GTO poker in theory is break even poker at it's highest level. It's not winning poker nor is it losing poker. A Nash equilibria or GTO 'system' would be a static 'system' to play poker in such a way that that it would be impossible to employ a winning or losing system against against it. That is to say any possible system against it would break even.

A Nash equilibria is proven to exist in in games that have a finite number of players and a finite number of moves(as to my knowledge poker does not). Games such as chess have a finite number of move as there is a rule in chess that says if a position has been reached 3 times the game is ruled a draw. Although poker a has a infinite number of moves game theory can be applied to it, as it is in business models, economics etc.

If GTO player A plays non-GTO player B the likelihood player B to win money would be equal to the likelihood of him losing. Yes, there will be times where player B loses money to player A, but those times will be offset by the times(trees) that player B wins money. There also will be times where player A stacks player B, but however the 'system' will have a way to account for that somewhere finding a way to spew the amount of money back into the game.

I don't play 'real' money poker anymore but if I did I would tend to focus my study on GTO(break even) game play over exploitative game play(unless of coarse you are already a winning player). I'm of the mindset of seeing GTO play as such a powerful weapon in a poker players arsenal. Many pros are implementing GTO into their play. While arguably almost all players at the highest stakes are well aware how to play exploitative poker(excluding those random billionaire fish) not all are knowledgeable about how to play more optimally(break even). This in my mind makes them a far stronger player.

If an unknown player sits down at a high stakes game GTO players would have the ability to play GTO play until they had good reads on the new player. As there is a chance the unknown is a highly skilled player equal in skill and has been studying the games of all the high stakes players games. This knowledge of GTO would prevent them for losing money to the new player until good reads can be had.

I also see the importance in a low stakes player learning GTO poker first. In theory GTO poker would work at any given level including the playchip level. You could actually play playchip until you learned GTO and then go to small stakes poker and play GTO until you learned more exploitative plays. With good bankroll policies(BRP) you could then be able to play at any given stake.

I haven't used a solver but have seen a few charts. I also see people suggesting using a weighted dice be able to match the frequencies to play certain hands in a given range. I think you would need to first know if those frequencies are a result of the board or a result of the 'system' trying to incentivize or discourage play until the river. I think it's a combo of both. I tend to think the system may be trying to get to the river as much as possible. Because at the river the system would have the most control over the final outcome.

I've seen results of flop ranges and read it was proven the it's -EV to continue after the flop or it was -EV for the starting range to see a flop I don't quite remember. Why would this be? Well I think to incentivize play to continue to the river. Monotone boards the system dictates to use lower bet sizes. Why? Because those flops other players are less likely to continue top the river. I've read other things like 'why would you put 54s in your starting range when it's -.4 EV?" Well I see a couple possible answers to this. First to incentivize other players to play against your starting range. Why that because this would encourage play until the river. And secondly maybe it's a way to insure that the starting range has less EV and therefore closer to even.

Why the river? Well the GTO example mini game I see often explains a lot. The game is push fold for $100 stacks with $100 in the pot. If player a vbets 2/3 the time and bluffs 1/3 the time player B is indifferent to calling or folding. In this example its the same EV for both players if player A plays plays this equilibria. Or player A could only bet 1/2 pot his range range would then consist of 75% vbets to 25% bluffs.

Well that's my thoughts on GTO. Any ideas to smash holes in my theory are more the welcomed.


  • KossKoss Red Chipper Posts: 82 ✭✭
    The idea that playing GTO poker is inherently breakeven poker is wrong. It's only breakeven against other GTO players. However GTO poker still profits when players make fundamental mistakes against it.

    You're right in that playing GTO isn't about taking the most +EV line, but about taking a line where your opponent is either indifferent towards calling or folding against your bet, or cannot immediately profit by betting. But if your opponent is making fundamental frequency mistakes, your GTO line will be profitable in the long term against it.

    Here's a silly example. Lets say it's $100 pot on the river, and we make a $100 bet. A GTO range in here should have 2/3 value 1/3 bluffs. If we have picked our bluff and value hands appropriately, our opponent cannot exploit this bet. The best they can do is call with their own MDF appropriately to break even in the long run. But lets say our opponent is really really dumb, and makes a fundamental error in poker. When facing river bets, they always fold the mortal nuts, and to keep the same MDF, they will call with the same number of nut low hands. Now our perfect GTO betting range will occasionally win when our bluffs get called by the nut low and fold out the nuts, and our value bets don't get raised by the nuts. We make more $$ in this scenario than when our opponent calls or raises with a perfect GTO range. This is just one extreme example of where playing GTO profits off opponents mistakes. GTO is not breakeven, it generates profit from all other non-GTO opponents, it just doesn't generate the most profit that an exploitative strategy would.
  • kenaceskenaces Red Chipper Posts: 1,589 ✭✭✭✭
    If GTO player A plays non-GTO player B the likelihood player B to win money would be equal to the likelihood of him losing.


    How much player B will lose will be a function of how far from GTO he is deviating.

  • ROI RUINERROI RUINER Red Chipper Posts: 233 ✭✭
    I thought GTO was “don’t go broke” poker. I play on Poker Stars in PA and on ACR. On PS there are lots of recs. At 100nl tables you can have 2 players on a 6max table for 40%+ VPIPs.

    Overbetting the turn with your JT gutshot on the AQ3 8 board because it hits your range as the PFR and getting looked up on the river when the hand gets to showdown with your missed draw will pay you off dozens of times when villain overadjusts and looks you up every time you bet big for the next month.

    Not to mention how intimidating it is to the “good regs” who have WWSF%s of 40% because they are only betting for value.

    So there is a meta game element with playing GTO vs recs that I believe is overlooked that is profitable in the long run.
  • crdplayer52crdplayer52 Red Chipper Posts: 5 ✭✭
    OK I'm definitely wrong GTO wins vs non-GTO. Not just because of the nut folding guy but also for frequencies. The mini game with $100 stacks with $100 in the pot. I said the villain was indifferent to calling or folding the hero's push because his EV is the same. But now I think he has to call or he loses 100% when the hero bets instead of calling and losing only 75% of the time.

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