Does GTO really mean ....

theANMATOR

theANMATOR

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Hey Folk.

Over the past year I have steadily moved up in the events I play in.
I still play at the micro level, but at the beginning of the year I was playing in 0.25/0.50 cent buy-in tournaments, and still freerolling my @ss off trying to recover from tiny withdrawals, and to build up a large enough roll to play larger events.

I finally put together a series of solid cashes in those events - leading up to the past couple months, where I have been regularly playing in 3-5 dollar events, while taking infrequent shots at the smallest buyin events at the low-stakes on ACR, ($6-$10).

As I have "moved up" I have become aware of players playing better. The field is still littered with - lets say - players who pay the bills , but several other notable players play a tighter range, shove with stronger hands, and generally play better post flop.

The reason for this post mostly, is to consider players attempting to play GTO at this level.
I certainly do not attempt to play GTO at the level I am at. In my honest opinion, and assessment of the field of players, GTO does not make sense, because the buyin amounts do not matter enough, and because the field is littered with stations who will not fold ANY pair - regardless of what kind of makeup the board is. The board could be paired with all broadway cards, and a 4, 3 to a straight and flush, and ol boy is gonna call down a 3bet pre and call every street with an overbet on the river with 9/4 off suit with his paired 4 in a multi-way pot. lol as an extreme example.

However - I have witnessed several players - maybe some who have decided to spend some cash to get some training - attempt to play GTO at this micro level. From my perspective - they are playing a style that is much better suited for better players and larger stakes.

It seems the way they play - they attempt to bluff as if they have the NUTS every hand they play. Essentially - giving away a lot of chips to players who are mostly not that good and will not fold any pair, and against other players who are - to be honest - solid players - who can read hands, and the board - and are not falling for this over-bluffy style of play.

It seems - what I gather from these players attempting to play GTO - what that means to them is GTO means play every hand as if you have the nuts - and bluff your butt off attempting to win every pot.


I played against a couple of these players over the weekend, and I could see what they were doing. Mostly - they were over-bluffing - as GTO does warrant. That might be a mis-interpretation of GTO play from my point of view, but essentially they were taking every bluff opportunity - and taking it with vigor and zeal. lol

I'm not going to say these players are bad, or that they played badly, though they might be getting instructions from instructors who tend to play bigger events vs players who make minute mistakes compared to the players these players are facing at the micro level.

It has been great fun to play with several of these players who attempt to play GTO. It seems they aren't that great at hand reading - trying to see the hand as played from their opponents point of view. I've had the hands they are attempting to represent a vast majority of the time, or at minimum a strong hand worthy of seeing a showdown, which has been quite profitable.

I'm not saying bluffing at the micros is something that should be avoided. I do it probably at a higher percentage than I should. But players who attempt to represent the NUTS every hand they play in - are giving away a ton of chips to players who pretty solid players, and also to players who are less solid - who are never folding one pair - regardless of what kind of flop/turn/river hits.

Anyone else facing GTO players at micro limits, who might seem to be over-bluffing a lot?
 
Alizona

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I view GTO as more of an "end-game" strategy, and I agree with you that it's much more suited to higher stakes where we will butt heads against the most veteran players we've ever faced in climbing the ladder, and these veterans will have all their skills perfected and all the tools mastered. At that point, in order to level the see-saw of strategy, both players will have to converge at perfect GTO strategy in order to remain equal against one another.

However, at all other stakes, at the stakes most of us play... I don't see GTO as being very relevant. The reason is, most opponents don't have a clue about GTO and all the calculations involved in such a concept, all the practicing with the solvers to learn what GTO play actually looks like and plays like.

I'm no GTO expert so take my words for what they are - my somewhat-informed opinions - but I think most GTO experts will tell you that playing GTO poker against opponents who aren't playing perfect GTO back at you is sub-optimal. Exploitive play (taking advantage of our opponents traits and tendencies that stray from GTO play) is far more profitable when opponents aren't playing optimally.

In answer to your final question - yes, I actually have been noticing that I seem to be picking off more bluffs during my recent heater. Some of my deeper runs were fueled by picking of a key bluff in a large pot, but the question of "are they trying to play GTO poker?" never enters my mind, because it really doesn't do much for me, strategy-wise. I just do the same process I always do - assign good hand ranges to our opponents, count hand combos, eliminate combos on each street via hand-reading to narrow ranges, etc. Observation of prior hands should hopefully inform us whether a player seems to be bluffing excessively. Whether that's due to them trying to apply GTO concepts? Who knows, and quite honestly, it really doesn't matter much to me. It's a well-known saying that "aggressive poker is winning poker", so I'm always on the lookout for such players as you describe, who love to raise and be aggressive whenever they get the chance to do so. Those are the players I'm gonna call down lighter and be more aggro against myself. But it has nothing to do with GTO at all.

Good post tho, thanks for sharing.
 
theANMATOR

theANMATOR

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In answer to your final question - yes, I actually have been noticing that I seem to be picking off more bluffs during my recent heater. Some of my deeper runs were fueled by picking of a key bluff in a large pot, but the question of "are they trying to play GTO poker?" never enters my mind, because it really doesn't do much for me, strategy-wise. I just do the same process I always do - assign good hand ranges to our opponents, count hand combos, eliminate combos on each street via hand-reading to narrow ranges, etc. Observation of prior hands should hopefully inform us whether a player seems to be bluffing excessively. Whether that's due to them trying to apply GTO concepts? Who knows, and quite honestly, it really doesn't matter much to me. It's a well-known saying that "aggressive poker is winning poker", so I'm always on the lookout for such players as you describe, who love to raise and be aggressive whenever they get the chance to do so. Those are the players I'm gonna call down lighter and be more aggro against myself. But it has nothing to do with GTO at all.

Good post tho, thanks for sharing.

Thanks for your input Ali. After re-reading my original post - to me it comes across as if I don't understand GTO, but I thought that was the only thing I could associate with the recent trends.

I doubt that is the case actually - since GTO is all about balance, and these players are certainly not that.

The recent trend may very well be associated with something a prominent poker instructor recently said in a podcast, that is "PROs fight for every pot and never give up".

This just adds fuel to those players who think the best and only strategy is full on aggressiveness.

I assess every hand pretty much the same process you use, keeping in mind past history with the players who I am in the pot with. Players have a strong instinctive process to play hands in similar situations, and I try to sniff out these elements, and when they change up. Seems to be a pretty solid approach for me so far - so I'm going to stick with what has been profitable for me. :)
 
Alizona

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The only place where GTO has helped my game is discovering some charts of recommended GTO opening ranges for each table position, and in studying those charts I realized just how tight my game was compared to GTO play. That prompted me to begin to open my game up a bit and play a little more loosely so I get practice playing more of the non-premium holdings. I downloaded one of the solvers and tried using it for a brief while but the software was in the recycle bin before very long. LOL We all want to be better players, but solver software is nothing but a headache in my opinion. As I said before, I think GTO play is the final piece of the puzzle for the best players in the world, it certainly applies to them. But for the rest of us I think it's mostly a waste of our time and we have plenty of other basic things we should be working on and mastering before we delve into game theory.
 
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1nsomn1a

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Sometimes at the poker table, people forget that their goal is not to play as a world-class player, but only to beat their opponents at the table. Set the right goals and the easiest ways to achieve them.:)
 
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Very interesting thread.

Sometime ago I listened to Jason Koon talk about his game ( if I recall correctly it was on Remko Rinkema's Heads Up podcast) and when asked about GTO strategy he categorically did not recommend it for anything but higher stakes.

For the reasons you cite - there is little point in trying to implement GTO when most are not playing GTO. In fact his advice was quite simple, get as good a grounding in fundamental strategy as you can and then play an insane amount to gain experience.

From what I can recall he bascially said people should beg off GTO until they play high stakes and take the game serously to the point of wanting to turn pro.
 
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