GTO Poker- The Guide for Beginners

Last updated on : 28 Jan, 2021

GTO poker: The Guide for Beginners

GTO means Game Theory Optimal in poker. It is a complicated set of rules that lets the player make the best possible step in a no-limit Hold'em game and defend from any exploitation.

In this article, we shall go over the GTO poker meaning and try to explain it to some of you who are just beginning to explore this brilliant game.

Applying the GTO poker strategy to your game will take some time, but it will definitely make you a better player. Read on to know GTO poker meaning.

What is Poker GTO?

Poker GTO is a technique that refers to the Texas Hold'em poker no-limit. It stands for Game Theory Optimal, and it can be defined as an almost ideal way to play no-limit Hold'em. The benefit of this strategy is that not a lot of players know how to use the technique. Therefore, players who incorporate GTO poker strategy in their game will encourage their opponents to do frequent mistakes, leading to more benefit over time.

There are two key types of GTO poker strategies to win so that you can choose to play around in any of the given situations:

Exploitative: This is where you act in a way that in any given scenario, you optimise your expected value (EV) by correctly countering the sub-optimal plays and weaker tendencies of your opponents. Through playing this way, you also open yourself up to being exploited. But even the weaker opponents you are targeting with this tactic will not adjust their game to better combat this, enabling you to continue to reap full profits in the long run.

If you want to increase your profit by maximising your expected value in any given scenario, an exploitative technique is used. It is very efficient when you're playing against opponents that make suboptimal plays with shaky tendencies.

GTO: GTO poker strategy is where you are merely trying to play yourself perfect poker, which in turn only encourages your opponents to make mistakes against you. It is also where you can raise almost all your profit from. It also involves getting bluffs or semi-bluffs mixed in with your value bets, may help explain the use of bet sizes, and much more.

It is used to defend yourself instead of targeting other players. If you play well, and your opponent will make mistakes on occasion, in most cases you are guaranteed to be the best player at the table.

Which strategy is best in Poker: GTO vs Exploitative?

Now that you know the meaning, we can look into detail as to when a GTO poker strategy can be used and what are the different strategies. It is important to comprehend which of the two very different GTO poker strategy is going to be more profitable for you to use as a beginner or more advanced player.

The simple answer is probably a mixture of both, but usually more of an exploitable approach. Simply put, most of the players do not play GTO poker and every so often opens themselves up to be exploited in some part of their gameplay and strategy, allowing for more profits to be made from them using a manipulative style. In fact, GTO principles are only completely exploited and seen in use in some of the biggest games at the highest stakes, and even then, exploitative plays are still often used.

In reality, playing a complete GTO poker strategy is impossible, but you can get very close to it.

However, bear in mind that your rivals won't just be playing GTO poker strategy, so you should do whatever you can to spot their mistakes.

As soon as you know what they're doing wrong, concentrate on manipulating them, and you're sure to increase your win rate.

Why use a GTO poker strategy?

You may wonder why playing a theory-influenced game strategy is necessary when most of your money is made by manipulating weaker players, or players who simply do not pay attention to it.

There are two main reasons:

  • You will win money in the long run with a healthy, GTO poker strategy irrespective of how skilful your opponents are.
  • It is easier to make changes to approach your opponents if you have a baseline plan to build from.

From a GTO point of view, your hand review sittings should involve evaluations of how hands played out objectively. From that standpoint, you can determine how to play your range in a balanced way. In other cases, if you bet for value, you can also bet as a bluff with certain hands in your range, so that your opponent is uncertain whether you bet for value or as a bluff.

Advantages and disadvantages of GTO poker strategy

GTO strategy has a number of hands-on advantages:

  •  It is not easy to exploit the play based on the GTO strategy.
  • The GTO strategy-based play is a winning one over any opponent.

Yet this approach has one drawback: the play won't always be the most successful, because GTO doesn't understand the habits of your opponents.

When to use GTO poker strategy:

  • When you are playing against regular players
  • You do not have any details about new players
  • In unknown poker games where you do not know who you are playing

GTO Poker Strategy: Pre-Flop

You will need to use a chart that shows which hands to open with depending on your location in a given circle. The more you are out of place; the closer hand ranges you will need to open. It can only be used, of course, after the action has been folded to you.

GTO Poker Strategy: Pot Odds

It is easy to calculate knowing pot odds and making a decision that will result in a long-term benefit. In any given case, you just need to know what your equity is.

GTO Poker Strategy: Minimum Defense Frequency

The minimum defense frequency (MDF) is an exploitation-proof method that tells us the percentage of hand ranges in a given situation in which we will call or raise.

This technique is often used in off-table experiments and to be applied during the game itself is very difficult. There's an easy formula you can use though, and that's really powerful against highly aggressive opponents.

The MDF formula is as follows:

MDF = pot size / (pot size + bet size)

GTO Poker Strategy: Bet Sizing

Bet sizing is a very critical part of the GTO strategy in poker. The main target, of course, is to remain unexploitable, but you can strive for unpredictability and sometimes make bluffs.

The number of bluffs you make depends on the pot size and the value of your bet. GTO bet sizing is valid only on the river, as all previous draws would still have some equity.

How does a GTO Poker solver work?

GTO poker solvers work by allowing you to insert both our range and the fixed bet sizes of our opponent's range.

This data is then used to measure a technique which is completely unexploitable for a specific point in aside. The software will demonstrate precisely what actions we need to take in our range for each combo, and for which size of the bet.

What does that mean for the players?

Poker players with their high-stakes idols known to be using GTO strategies have been caught in a whirlwind. The thing is it does not get simple with this experience. The number of hours needed to play the poker style is unbelievably high.

Poker GTO Software

In recent years, numerous GTO poker solvers have been released to support novice, intermediate, and advanced players. It helps us how to play poker correctly in various circumstances from a more structured / GTO standpoint poker.

PokerSnowie and PioSolver are the most popular selling programs on the market right now to assist with behind-the-scenes research and analysis of GTO poker.

Although you won't be able to measure the various player hand ranges and what hands to bet or test within real-time, taking the time with these programs to learn GTO poker strategies in depth will eventually pay you dividends. This will also help to increase the level of comprehension and awareness to become more GTO for poker.

The GTO methodologies you will develop with the use of solvers will include matching ranges, choosing optimal bet sizes, mastering cbet frequencies, and more.

Poker Tournament GTO

Tournaments also have shorter stacks in later stages than what is usually used in cash games. As a result, Nash charts have been made, modified, and used over many years to know which hands to shove with in order to follow the guidelines for GTO poker.

With the continuously changing environment in the poker world, players are constantly improving their skills to strengthen and gain an edge in the match. Although sometimes using an exploitable strategy can result in higher profit margins than using an all-time attempted GTO-based approach, learning and understanding GTO novices and more advanced principles will definitely enable you to gain an advantage for a few key reasons:

  • It provides a good foundation and framework for your games.
  • It makes it simpler to know how to diverge your strategy for certain opponents when you have such a model established.
  • This helps you to stop levelling wars with your rivals because you are going to make sound poker decisions based on a credible, unusable GTO strategy.
  • It does not allow you to make suppositions about the playing styles of your opponents.


  • There’s no such thing as one ideal plan for poker.
  • GTO play should be used as your starting technique and only then can you adapt to specific opponents.
  • GTO poker approach is best against players who are unknown or strong.
  • Deviating from that when you find those errors will add extra profits.
  • You do not have to choose between GTO poker and exploitative play, and you should know both strategies.

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