Game Theory Optimal. Why Should Poker Players Bother With It?


There is no hotter concept in the poker community than game theory optimal, or GTO for short. If you play poker online, you're most likely familiar with terms like poker solver, poker HUD, and other poker tools, which helped to develop the poker game tremendously. However, if this terminology gets you confused, don't worry. We're here to introduce you to the fascinating world of GTO poker.

Luckily, now the computers do all the math

But what exactly is GTO poker all about?

The term game theory optimal is related to the branch of mathematics called game theory, which studies strategic interactions between its participants. Poker, at its principles, is a zero-sum game, which means that every loss of your opponent is your gain and vice versa.

This correlation makes it possible to come up with an unexploitable poker strategy. The best result against such a strategy is to break even. That's what GTO poker strategy is all about - playing in such a way that the opponent cannot beat you.

Of course, poker is a very complex game with many factors to consider and many possible actions to choose from. For now, the poker game is quite far from being solved, but we already understand how heads-up poker is supposed to be played nearly perfectly.

How optimal strategy works in practice?

Before we move on with poker-related examples, let's look at an application of an unexploitable strategy in a very simple game: rock, paper, scissors.

In rock, paper, scissors, both players can choose one of three shapes, and there can be only one ouf of three outcomes to a single game: player one wins, player two wins or a tie. What would be an unexploitable strategy for rock, paper, scissors? Throwing a random shape every game. With this strategy, your opponent can't adjust, and you are guaranteed not to lose over a big enough sample.

You might wonder, what's the point if the best outcome is not to lose? If you are playing using a balanced strategy, your opponent can break even only if they also play an unexploitable strategy. If they don't do so and deviate from the optimal, they will almost always lose to you over time.

For some reason rock is the most common first throw.

How was GTO poker strategy discovered?

It all began with the creation of poker solvers. Solvers are a type of poker software which creates a strategy based on GTO under the circumstances provided by the user. So if you input the poker solver with the ranges of both players, the stacks they have and the board you are interested in, the solver will come up with an unexploitable strategy for that very hand.

Undoubtedly, poker solvers were the most significant breakthrough in online poker history. No poker software before them allowed players to study the game so efficiently and accurately. For a long time, work done by even the best poker players were a trial and error. Many strategies that used to be considered good were based on experience and wild guesses of people trying to outsmart others.

GTO poker solvers changed that. The output provided is backed up with math, so you can actually check the expected value of certain plays and how different circumstances change the optimal strategy.

It all starts here

Poker solvers evolved significantly over the years

They've also changed online poker for good. Soon after their invention, poker solvers were user-unfriendly and unaffordable for most poker players, especially those who play low-stakes games. Moreover, first GTO poker solvers, despite being quite accurate, needed a lot of computing power and time to provide valuable insight.

Luckily that changed over time. Nowadays, poker software is much more advanced and easy to use, and we believe that our own Deepsolver is an example of the modern take on poker tools.

Why theory is so important in modern poker games

If you want to become a highly winning poker player, you most likely should use a poker solver. Such software provides an optimal strategy and gives you a comprehensive insight into what you should do in certain situations.

Obviously, at first glance, data provided by poker solvers seem complex and hard to replicate. We can't deny that. The game tree for even simple hands can get quite large. The beauty of studying with solvers lies in repetition and recognition of patterns.

Implementing the exact GTO strategy is almost impossible for humans; however, every spot you solve gives you a better understanding of what you should do under specific circumstances. It's not that important to know what bet sizes should be used with the exact hand on the exact board. It's important to understand how to play a particular part of your range on certain types of boards.

A big merit of theoretical knowledge is that it gives you an insight into what should be done in particular types of spots. Knowing what your opponent does wrong makes it easier to come up with an exploitative strategy to capitalize on their mistakes.

There's no better tool to learn than a proper poker solver

Working with a poker solver will take your game to the next level

Right now, no poker software is more rewarding to work with. What's even better, poker solvers are getting faster and more user-friendly every year. With those things in mind, we've created a Deepsolver, a tool for serious poker players and amateurs alike.

Our app will help you solve spots for cash games and tournaments. Fast, user-friendly interface and great support - Deepsolver will help you become the best player at any poker table.

Now you can try out Deepsolver for seven days, free of charge. Click here to start your free trial.