Wednesday, June 5, 2013

thoughts on learning GTO after 4 sessions of 'blah blah GTO'

blah blah GTO = video series running now on DeucesCracked in which blah234 trains me in the art of learning how to completely rethink poker from an EV-based, mathematical perspective.

it's really hard, especially given how much time I'm spending on BET RAISE FOLD. it would still be really hard even if I had all the time in the world to devote to it. DC shipped me a copy of Matt Janda's new book but I haven't even had a chance to read more than a few pages.

DCer Zinger posted a comment in the latest video thread that I've been mulling over. I definitely feel the truth in this, and though I know we are a long way away from a GTO solution to poker, I find myself wondering exactly where poker is headed. What do you guys think?
There's a lot of focus on what GTO could be from all the latest poker training materials. Analysis tools and poker bots are also getting better. 
With the flood of information creating an army of near-GTO bots, poker's future looks bleak. Games were always getting tougher but the idea that you could be playing someone with no weaknesses to exploit is utterly depressing.  
It sounds so cold and boring. To me, poker's a creative endeavor and while I don't think someone's nose-picking is an indicator of hand strength, I'm still a bit of a romantic. *plays Rounders clips* A great hero call or well-timed bluff give me satisfaction. I feel like an explorer in a jungle of unknown variables. Was that sexy play actually right? It gives me a little puzzle to ponder over and catalyze further improvements. 
However, it seems the future flair or creativity will be what CREV spits out in yet another of thousands of simulations. Poker feels less like a game and too much not just like work but like drudgery. Instead of seeing myself as a child when trying to integrate this new conception of poker, I reflexively see a tired accountant with endless spreadsheets to sort through. I certainly don't see Chris Moneymaker winning the WSOP. There are lots of ways to make good money but unlike most of them, poker was supposed to be more fun.
I could live with the fact that tomorrow will always be harder than today, but I laid my hope and motivation on the notion that I could always beat anyone if I improved sufficiently. With guys like Sauce123 actively trying to play GTO, this idea no longer holds merit. Poker's looking increasingly like an absolutely terrible career choice. I thought Black Friday was bad but this new approach to poker makes me feel even worse. 
Poker 2015: We worked so hard so we can now trade rake! In a theater near you!


  1. (1) If HE games get too solved, people will play other games. Perhaps recreational players won't, just because they like HE so much. What we would be left with might be more of a mid-80's scene, with only a more serious brand of recreational player and a bunch of real gamblers. Except the real gamblers would be way better. To be honest, this doesn't sound so bad to me, though there definitely wouldn't be boom-era money in it.

    (2) If bots get too tough, anti-bot security measures could come along. Many of these would make it harder to multitable legitimately / harder for casual players to play. As in (1), we might see an equilibrium with tougher but not unbeatable games.

    (3) In live games there will always be physical information. Even small amounts of physical information can make a big difference to optimal play.

    (4) Re: "cold and boring." Welcome to the world. In this respect poker is no different from anything else. You get excited about the miracle of life, go to college, and wind up learning the details of the Krebs cycle and methylation of nucleic acids. You see a whiz-bang geometry proof, study up, and wind up spending all afternoon proving the completeness of some logical system. Everything worth caring about has a hard, un-sexy core. Not to be too gruff, but: grow up and learn to appreciate real understanding.

  2. I think the majority of this GTO talk is bullshit, the ONLY thing that matters in poker is what happens on average in reality, not how people discuss hands or try to sound interesting in forums or poker videos.

    Read some good books on how our brain works and you will realize that quite often us humans are victims to our own brain flaws(Read "Thinking fast and slow" by Daniel Kahnemann). Why do I say this? Because it backs up the fact that people don't play how they talk, people play how they play.

    1. Why does the fact that people play badly--and talk better than they play--entail that "the majority of this GTO" talk is bullshit"? If we overestimate the probability that people are playing very well, and if we study GTO very hard, perhaps we'll miss out on some exploitive opportunities if we go on "GTO autopilot." But (i) that's a pretty good problem to have (missing some extra money because you've worked so hard to develop an optimal strategy that will still handily beat the mistake-makers) and (ii) you're more likely to identify mistakes if you know more about GTO.

      I loved _Thinking, Fast and Slow_. If you read it carefully, you'd surely know that it's quite misleading to call "System 1" processes "brain flaws." Indeed, Kahneman calls that rapid-fire subsystem the hero of the book!

  3. I never said people play badly, I never said people talk better than they play, I never said people talk good or bad or play good or bad. However I think that most people do not play in reality as they talk in forums, nothing more nothing less. That is why I think it is bullshit, all we need to do is play as optimal as we can against everyone under all circumstances. That and nothing else should be our goal.

    This strategy will naturally evolve into a nash equillibrium if we are doing it to perfection, AND we are playing someone who is doing it to perfection as well, if we are both done adjusting our strategies untill none of us can improve any further to reach a higher EV, we are at nash equillibrium.

    However the pressence of drawing equity and no limit betsizing, makes it incredibly complex to do anything like this in reality. Every time you add or remove a bb from betsizing EV changes, with all those things being true, what needs to happen for you to play a GTO like strategy? You need to do in incredible amount of work on your own game to come anywhere near to knowing how to play unexploitably optimal, but the problem is you also need to do that same amount of work on the other ones strategy, and more other ones if more people join the pot and we are not playing headsup.

    The reality is tho poker is no where near being solved, I wouldn't invest my time and energy into trying to solve it. That energy can be better spent analyzing your game and your opponents game and looking where you can improve your strategy, and not worry about someone always maximumly exploiting you.

    As to definition of mistake, you make it sound like any non GTO play is considered a mistake, but poker is not solved, we don't know GTO, thus we don't know what is or what isn't a mistake. I'd say a mistake is everytime you either fold/check/call/raise when you have the knowledge to pick another option you know is higher EV, and an opportunity is to increase your knowledge so you can identify and make more mistakes.

    It comes a problem of where to invest your energy, I say GTO talk is bullshit because I do not believe almost anybody plays anywhere near GTO. And I think it is bullshit because if you do your job very well as to adjusting to your opponents, when you are done doing that the best in the world, and you are playing another best of the world, you will automatically theoretically come as close to GTO as possible, so the beauty of that is it will come natural if you do your job to perfection.

    But instead of doing that you want to solve poker right now, while there are probably very powerful computers and botmakers out there trying to do that which much better resources and aren't there by a long shot, count your odds.

    Also I never said I called System 1 brain flaws, I said that we are quite often victim to our brain flaws. What I meant with that is that I learned from the book, that very often what you think isn't what your subconscious thinks or does or acts, and what you think is quite often not what you do either. And that is us being human, expecting a human to always play GTO even if poker was solved is hard enough in and on itself.

  4. Biggest reason I said GTO is bullshit btw is because of one example where I had the pleasure to discuss a hand by a real big game theorist, and explained how in spot x he would always play the nutflush and the nutflush blocker in that way, for balance. He is a game theorist yes, and a good one, but even he couldn't give me any combo with the nutflush blocker that he would actually play that way as well. What did that teach me? That people play how they play, and quite often reason I play hand x and y this way as well, while in reality they don't. That's why I mean it is bullshit, stick to reality, do your best to find out reality as accurate as possible, do your best to replace any action you make at the table with a better one at any given time, and you are on your way to maybe if necessary one day reach a nash-equillibrium if the situation asks for it.

    But to summarize, poker happens in reality, the one who better estimates reality with limited information available and better adjusts to that will come out on top. I think if we want to make the most amount of money, his is what we should stick to, and not worry about anything else.

  5. I agree w a bunch of what both of you are saying but in terms of GTO being "bullshit" and a waste of energy I only agree to the extent that none of us are finding a GTO solution any time soon. That said, I don't think searching for a GTO solution is BS, because it's going to force you to closely scrutinize your range and lines in every situation. It can help you find leaks in your game you wouldn't otherwise notice, and become more adept at spotting the same kinds of imperceptible leaks in your opponents' games.

  6. Guys think about it ... "GTO" is just a way to trick yourself into playing the best poker your capable of playing.

    Your constantly asking yourself whats the best +EV play here. So yeah it works to make YOU better and think about what you're doing and why , thats it. Sorry to spoil all the fun guys