GTO poker: what it is and basic strategies

The term GTO, abbreviation of Game Theory Optimal, refers to a concept that has been widely used in poker in recent years. Explaining the implications of GTO in poker is somewhat complex and in the following article we will try to explain what is the true meaning of GTO, if it is a concept that is accessible to less experienced players and how it really influences the outcome of the game.

Introduction to GTO in poker

The first thing to know is that in poker there are two types of winning strategies in any given situation at the table: exploitation and GTO (the full term is rarely used in poker). Broadly speaking, the exploitation strategy is based on playing in such a way as to maximize the expected value (EV), basically by adequately counteracting the optimal plays and weaker tendencies of the opponents.

The main risk of this strategy is that the other players can also use it against you, but it is a good way to increase your EV yield. If you know how to properly counter the attacks of the other opponents, you will have the opportunity to reap great profits.


The other strategy is the GTO. In poker, this style of play is where you mainly try to play poker as perfectly as possible, without taking into account the other opponents. What this allows is that the opponents can make mistakes against you, a fact that can be used to increase the yield of the winnings. This is the basis of any GTO strategy in poker: to take advantage of your opponents' mistakes.

How GTO influences a poker game

It will not come as news to you that to play poker at the highest level it is necessary to be fluent in mathematics, but there are concepts that very few players can understand and apply to poker. One of these concepts is the so-called "frequencies", which have a lot to say in a GTO poker strategy. But let's go in parts to understand it.

A GTO poker simulator, which is usually an online software, usually gives solutions on how to play in the most optimal way possible in any given venue and play and often recommends a type of combined strategies based on selecting frequencies. These are a very important part of poker theory and often fall unfairly into oblivion.


GTO simulators in poker are important to understand how frequencies influence the outcome of the game, and how they affect various aspects of the game. For example, they play an important role in the initial hand ranges. At the moment, in order to compensate for the positional disadvantage, players have to open tighter hand ranges.

Considering the ranges and the basic principles of the GTO, it is generally normal to want to have a fairly good and balanced starting hand range from every position, with at least several hands that allow for a strong hand. All this regardless of the flop structure.

It is best to resort to the tables offered by these programs to understand how the dynamics of the GTO works in poker, its meaning and its incidence in all types of games. And, as you can already guess, the question is not only to know what is the GTO in poker, but to understand all the factors that are behind this concept.

The GTO in poker simulators


The development of more and more advanced programs has allowed new players to know what the GTO in poker is and to become familiar with this concept. In more and more simulators, you can learn poker by using the theory of GTO, which in poker has a somewhat ambiguous meaning at first but that time and experience can help to assimilate better.

And these programs are useful both for the most novice players who do not know what GTO is in poker, and for the more "pros" who want to continue learning the methodologies of GTO. The use of software can be especially useful when learning to play poker from a 100% mathematical point of view.

Although it is not possible to calculate the different hand ranges of the players in real time, using these programs can be useful when you are looking to study in depth what is the GTO in poker. Besides, the good thing about using these tools is that they allow you to take your time to study new game strategies in more depth, increasing the level of concentration and making the GTO in poker, as well as its meaning, less and less abstract for you.

GTO strategies for beginners


Broadly speaking, this is what a poker beginner should know about GTO. However, we can say that the implication of GTO is cross-cutting, as it maintains its level of complexity as experience increases. This is important because the GTO is not like any other aspect that is learned, assimilated and internalized, but makes the player must maintain a constant level of interest so that the mathematical knowledge is expanded as the experience at the gaming tables does.

As you can see, it all sounds very abstract. And the fact is that, despite how complicated it is to explain the GTO, poker, like so many other sports and games, is best learned as you go along, game by game and progressively. You can memorize the theory, evaluate on paper all the assumptions... all that will be useless if you don't play and test with "real fire", so don't be afraid to use simulators or more friendly game platforms to familiarize yourself with the concept.

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