Daniel Cates on Game Theory Optimal Poker Play | Paul Phua Poker



Daniel “Jungleman” Cates talks to Paul Phua Poker on exactly what is GTO poker and how do we play GTO effectively.

What does GTO mean and how does it apply to poker?

Dan Cates: If you play GTO strategy and another player plays any other strategy, if your strategy is truly GTO, then you’re gonna win some amount of money. It doesn’t try to make the most money possible, it’s just a strategy that cannot be beaten. And actually, it would be like quite a bit of money if you played enough hands. However, it’s really tough to play GTO.

How do l find out more about GTO?

Dan Cates: The way that we found out more about GTO, unless you’re really, really good at math and do a ton of math work – which, l mean, l don’t know many players that really do that – basically we found out through using computer simulations from programmes and stuff like that. PioSOLVER’s very notoriously these days for something that makes looking at GTO strategies quite easy. But there are a few different solvers out there for No Limit Holdem. Maybe people have had custom solvers, or people have had bots or whatever before PioSOLVER came out. But yeah, basically, the main way of learning about GTO is by using programmes and/or a bot to help.

Should you play more GTO online, and more intuitively live?

Dan Cates: You can do that much better online just because you get more hands to play. I mean, you can do it live as well if you’re paying attention. Players play hands much more speculatively live, in my experience. There’s this live read aspect – it’s pretty tough to play great, and play the same way you always do when you have like a very good hand or a very bad hand. So l mean, for that reason, you would wanna not consider GTO quite as much and, if you do pick up live tells or whatever – you’d much rather use those, if they’re good enough, or if you’re good enough at it, than use like some strategy that’s supposed to work in the very long run.

Are there any particularly surprising mathematical or GTO applications to poker strategy?

Dan Cates: Yeah, there are a lot of things like that. Very simple examples: a lot of players really like to bet for protection, or they like to like put a lot of money in before the board gets bad or becomes unfavourable. But while that’s somewhat of a consideration… Normally what you’d do is bet small to bet for protection, especially if your hand like doesn’t extract much value from other weaker hands. But a lot of things, if you look at the simulations, you’ll see that a lot of ways hands play actually play, they actually would rather wait for favourable run outs and then put a lot of money in. So a lot of new players have this backwards, they have this idea that, “Oh, l’ve got to put my money in before, like, bad cards come out…” or whatever. But the simulations do it the other way. They say, “I don’t wanna put money in until good cards come out”. Another thing is, a lot of players feel the need to like always fast play. Sometimes there are other ways of thinking of things that work out better than always fast playing. Like you should have some traps in some really not obvious situations if you’re playing optimally. And then things change more and more when you play more shallow because ranges become a bit more polarised when you’re shallow and weird things happen when ranges are really polarised. But basically, there are a lot of things that are very, very not intuitive. They’re very, very counterintuitive about proper play. As l was saying before, people don’t even play at Limit Holdem right and Limit Holdem was solved ages ago. So people are not about to start playing No Limit Holdem perfectly anytime soon. They play much better than they used to, that’s for sure. I mean, l play it much better than l used to as well.

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