GTO Part 1
I think there’s a lot of growing to be done by learning GTO play. However, in terms of balancing your range in regards to it, you really shouldn’t be doing it if you’re playing 200NL or below. Even most 400NL players have much more exploitable areas you should be focusing on, rather than trying to balance consistently against them, and I’ll tell you why. But first, let me illustrate how poker concepts get perpetuated into the poker community, without really much thought to the application. Since I’ve been playing online for about 11 years now, I’ve watched this happen over and over again with countless concepts.
I was playing 100NL 6-max on Bovada, when one regular (I use my bovada HUD card catcher) opened to 3x UTG, and the action folded to another regular who flatted on the button. Everyone folded and the flop came heads up. The flop was: Jh Th Xx (not heart).
The UTG player bet about 4.5 BBs I believe, and the button called. The turn was the: 6x (not heart). The UTG player bet again, I think about 2/3ds of the pot, and the button called again. The river was a brick. I think it paired the board, and the UTG player bet a little over half, the button shoved, and the UTG player pretty much snap called. The Button had 66 and the UTG player QQ.
Now, regardless of whether the button regular noticed that the UTG player was playing pretty tight or not, I had to do something I never do. I typed in chat, “Why did you call the flop?”. I had a hunch at what the answer might be, and I got it. “If I fold on that board, I can be easily exploited”, said the button regular. Did you happen to notice the title of the post and what site I said I was on. This is Bovada. How in the world is someone going to have enough information on your to exploit you on that kind of board texture with small pairs.
The Button was crushed versus UTG’s opening and flop betting range on that flop. He was at least a 5:1 dog and maybe more. Was he thinking of turning his hand into a bluff on later streets. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t. But, he was very confident in his decision and went on to defend it for quite some time. I didn’t say anything at all after my question. I don’t like giving information away, I just like hearing how these concepts make their way onto the virtual felt incorrectly. I’m someone who see’s patterns really quickly, so it’s somewhat of a study to me.
GTO part 2
I’ve been thinking about doing a twitch stream for awhile, but I don’t think I want to do one while playing on Bovada. It doesn’t seem to smart to do. But I decided to open up my first twitch stream today, and I started watching someone who had a good amount of viewers playing 400NL on Black Chip. This was my bread and butter limit for a lot of years. I sat and listened as he explained his reasoning against regulars who he had a good amount of stats, notes, and history with. It sounded pretty much like any student I’ve coached over the years. He really didn’t know how often someone was doing X play, and he wasn’t really sure how often he should be making Y play to balance his range. There was a lot of, “If I fold here I’m probably exploitable”, and then a fold comes. Meanwhile, I picked up on reads of his opponents on the 4 tables he was on, and without a HUD (because he had it offline), I could tell you pretty much what each of these opponents was doing and how to exploit it. Many of them had huge holes in their games. The reason I’m saying this is because if I had to bet, I’d bet A LOT of time has been spent trying to study GTO play by this person. Yet, I highly doubt much of that was really applied in game. So my argument is this…
Spend that time learning how to profile and exploit players weaknesses in their games. If you do that, you’ll be a much better player and spend your time more wisely. When you really start getting good at this, learn GTO to your hearts content. But spending so much time on GTO when your opponents aren’t playing optimally is like trying to learn to ride a bike by studying the wheels spinning. It’s all part of the bike, and you need to understand that balance, but you also need to understand how to make the big go the fastest, and that’s by pushing on the peddles.