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GTO and Exploitative: Can they help you win more in poker?

GTO and Exploitative: Can they help you win more in poker?

GTO and Exploitative: Can they help you win more in poker?

Tue Jun 07 2022 02:57:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

Most casino games are exciting to play because they're purely based on chance and luck. However, there are games such as live poker that lets you alter the outcome of the game through the different moves you can make. Moreover, it's the only game where it pits players against each other rather than having them go against the house.

Several players have come up with different poker tips and strategies throughout the years to help them win more games and lose less money. Two of the most famous ones that are still being used to this day are Game Theory Optimal (GTO) and Exploitative Play. 

Being equipped with these strategies is vital for your gameplay because they can help you gain an advantage over your opponents by having stronger exploits. Moreover, you’ll be more aware of the flaws that can be found in other players’ strategies. Keep on reading to find out more about these two useful strategies so that you can incorporate them into your gameplay!

What is Game Theory Optimal (GTO)?

The Game Theory Optimal is a strategy that leaves you unexploitable by other players. This makes you almost impossible to beat as it lets you refrain from using a specific play too often or rarely. To execute it properly you have to balance your use of bluffs and the value of your hands.

Additionally, this strategy guarantees to make money out of your opponents or at the very least break even or win back your initial wager. However, this technique is more than that and to achieve this, you need to have a deeper understanding of the game of poker itself. 

Unlike the aggressive exploitative play commonly used by players worldwide, GTO is more of a defensive play as it prevents you from being exploited. Moreover, GTO can also be used as a countermeasure if your opponent is also using this strategy. 

How to play GTO poker

There is no perfect way to play GTO strategy regardless of whether you’re playing online or physical poker. The only thing you need to remember to play this strategy effectively is to make a well-balanced range for every possible line. Moreover, this strategy doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect, but rather make your opponent lose confidence in their cards and inevitably fold. 

To help you utilise this strategy in real-world situations at the poker table, here’s a step by step guide on how to play GTO poker:

  1. Compute the pot odds that your opponent is wagering against your bet
  2. Once you finish calculating, express the result in a ratio
  3. Lastly, create a betting range that falls under the same ratio with a similar proportion of value bets to bluffs.

While Game Theory Optimal comes with a lot of advantages, that doesn’t mean that it’s perfect and foolproof. To help you get a better understanding, here are the different pros and cons of this poker strategy: 


No one can predict what you’ll do

One of the main and most obvious advantages of GTO play is that other players on the table won’t be able to predict your next due to its defensive nature. Whether you’re a veteran or a newbie, using this strategy can lessen your chances of losing.

It’s not well-known

Experts recommend using this strategy against relatively new players because it’s not well-known which is why you can easily get away with using this strategy on them. From their eyes, you’re just playing normally but what they don’t know is that every step you take is well calculated.


You can’t exploit other players

One of the most glaring downsides of using Game Theory Optimum is that because you’re not allowing yourself to be exploited, this means that you can’t exploit others as well. This is because you’ll just be using the same strategy against all the other opponents at the table no matter what they do. 

It doesn’t always work as planned

As with any strategy not just in poker but in any table game, things won’t always go your way. One wrong move can cost you the game and make you lose money. The important thing is that you should keep these mistakes to a minimum by sticking to your plan.


What is Exploitative Poker?

From the name itself, this strategy looks for ways to exploit the strategies that your opponents use by looking for imbalances and mistakes you can use as an opening. 

Between the two strategies, exploitative poker has been around longer. It was being used by players from around the world to take home countless winnings long before GTO came into fruition.

One of the most common ways to execute this strategy is by excessively betting as a bluff because this usually causes your opponents to fold. Regardless of whether or not you indeed have a great hand, this strategy can help you win games.

However, be careful as this strategy can be a double-edged sword as it also leaves you prone to exploitation from your opponents. Because of this, you have to be cautious while using this strategy as once the other players find out what you’re up to, they can counterattack your strategy and deem it useless.

Additionally, exploitative poker should be fluid, meaning you should always adapt to the situation you’re in. Always remember that you’re prone to danger with this strategy so make sure to make necessary adjustments throughout the game to avoid losing.

How to play exploitative poker

One of the main things you need to do when playing exploitative poker is to thoroughly observe your opponent’s playing patterns. This way, you can identify imbalances and mistakes which are key to exploiting them.

A great way to pull off this strategy is to keep your opponents folding throughout the game. To put it simply, you can make your opponents fold more frequently if you bluff several times throughout the game. It’s no easy feat but once you know what it takes to have them fold more frequently, you’ll have an easier time taking home huge winnings. 

However, as with any other strategy, things won’t always go as planned. For example, if your opponent isn’t phased by your strategy and they’re not folding as frequently as you like, you can do two things.

The first one is to avoid bluffing altogether so that he won’t have a chance to exploit you and the other choice is to find different ways that can allow you to place a larger value bet.


It’s easier compared to GTO

For some players, using exploitative play is easier compared to GTO which makes sense given that this strategy can be done by just observing imbalances with the opponent’s patterns. However, you still need to be cautious since you’re using this because you can make false assumptions about other players which can lead to your loss.


It leaves you prone to exploitation as well

Using this strategy makes you susceptible to exploitation from your opponents as well. That’s why experts recommend using this strategy during low-stakes games so that you won’t risk going bankrupt if the strategy is used against you.

It’s not foolproof

Just like with GTO, using this strategy isn’t a foolproof way to guarantee a win. Several reasons may cause the outcome to go against your favour including wrong assumptions, misread observations and more. When these things happen, you’ll only end up hurting your pocket which is something you want to avoid in these games.

You can get carried away

Because exploitative play requires you to be aggressive, you can easily get carried away trying to bluff your way through the game waiting for your opponent to fold. As much as possible, you’d want to avoid this because you’ll inevitably cause yourself to go bankrupt. To have the most fun playing and making profits, always practice responsible gaming.


Tips for using Exploitative and GTO strategies

Both of these strategies have a steep learning curve and some players would even take months just to fully grasp their concept. Sometimes, you won't get a better understanding until you try them for yourself at a real poker table. However, to help you get started, here are some useful tips in using both the GTO and exploitative strategies:

Use GTO to test the waters

The GTO strategy is best used to test the waters of the poker table. When taking a seat at a new table filled with random players, you won’t know how their playing style works yet and how their skills stack up to yours. By using this strategy, you can play it safe until you get more familiar with their skills, tendencies and patterns. 

Once you find out if you have the better hand, you can proceed to exploit any imbalances you notice in their gameplay.

This tip also goes for online poker players because you’ll be playing against strangers from around the world and you won’t know whether they’re good or not. When it comes to being unsure, it’s always best to go the defensive route and opt for the GTO strategy as this can help you get a feel for the other players on the table.

Use exploitative if you’re observant

One of the best ways to add fun to your gameplay is by exploiting your opponents which can only be done by being observant. By using this strategy, you can play according to your opponent’s mistakes and make the necessary bluffs to have them fold before the final card is revealed. Some of the things you can observe include the duration of their folds and raise.

Use exploitative if you’re playing with familiar players

Exploitative plays can have a steep learning curve if you’re playing with random players. The great thing about playing with people who you’ve already competed against in the past is that you'll already have an idea of their mistakes and patterns. This means that you won’t have trouble creating and adjusting your strategy because you already have an opening to exploit.

Can GTO and Exploitative Poker be used together?

Because of the popularity of both strategies, several players think that they can only stick to one of them at a time. However, these two strategies are completely different from each other as GTO is a defensive way of playing while Exploitative Play is more offensive. Learning them both will be beneficial for you as a poker player as they can be your foundations.

Moreover, some situations beg for the use of GTO while others need exploitative play. For example, if you’ve been sitting at a poker table for quite some time and you notice that an opponent only bets big it can mean that he has a good hand. You can use this to your advantage and easily fold anytime he bets huge amounts of money.

On the other handGTO can save the day when you’re sitting at a poker table where you know you’re inferior to the other players seated. In this situation, it’s better to play it defensively rather than offensively because chances are, those players have more years in terms of experience. If you risk playing offensively by using exploitative play, you can hinder yourself from winning and break the bank at the same time.

Should you use GTO or Exploitative Play?

Both GTO and Exploitative Play are vital poker playing strategies for every player if you want to play smart. That being said, it’s also important to weigh the pros and cons of each strategy before proceeding with whatever poker game you’re playing. 

They’ve been around for several decades because of how useful they are in certain poker situations which can then help protect your wallet! 

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GTO and Exploitative: Can they help you win more in poker?

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