In today’s Ask Alec episode we have a question: Does game theory even matter in live poker? We have Game Theory vs. Exploitative Play. I share my poker tips about both subjects as well as some key takeaways that you guys can use. Feel free to share your tips about this topic in a comment below.

Cheers,
Alec
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Something you should definitely check out:

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Playing High Stakes Poker in Macau

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34 Replies to “Poker Game Theory vs. Exploitative Play – The Age-Old Controversy DEBUNKED!”

  1. Dude. You gotta play a wide range passively, then slow play the flopped nuts. Fold all the time to c-bets unless you have a marginal made hand, then make massive protection bets that fold out any hand you're beating, because you might get outdrawn! That's GTO.

  2. Hey Alec, if, hypothetically, there was a guy that you were playing with that was a SUPER balanced player and you had JJ (hypothetically) and he triple barreled when an A and K came out, would you think that it would be possible that his ego would cause him to over bluff you with total air? I mean like something crazy, like 68s or something? Or, since this guy is ALWAYS super balanced, would you just fold? Hypothetically.

  3. Those tactics are ok if you're playing only one other player, 'head's up'. But when you have, I found, in 'texas hold'em" six or more players to be very dangerous to over bet anything, because twelve random cards taken out of the deck and destributed to the other players, is a lot of cards to have to hope will be there for you in the next five cards that will soon be on the board. I kinda figured out that the odds are always twelve to one that you will get a winning hand, no matter what the other players do. In other words, without luck, you're throwing REAL money away. But as I look at the most winning players, they are luckier than most. Because any card is likely to show up in the flop, those that are not afraid of the smaller value cards, seem to win too. Go figure???

  4. The only thing that matters is exploitative play unless you are playing with other pros. But why would you want to play at a table where other players play close to perfect?

  5. Live poker is unique because in some spots it's correct to not play GTO and even make small mistakes. For example I might stop 3 betting a fish if I see him getting frustrated and thinking about quitting the game. I might even let him have a pot or two just to keep him around. In private games GTO could be terrible because playing nitty in a loose game will guarantee you won't be invited back. In those games it's actually profitable to throw in a couple bad bluffs or calls coz it will help your image in the long run. Make them think you're a dumb fish and then stack them in huge pots

  6. A reason I don't think game theory, or any kind of "by-numbers" poker will never completely work in no-limit is the extreme variability in pot sizes…you can play absolutely perfect and squeak out a mathematical advantage of a few percent for hours, days, weeks, and then lose it all in a few hours or something. There seem to be a lot of donks around overusing the all-in play, and it doesn't take too many suckouts in a row to really hurt most of us.

    What I'm saying is that few players play enough hands for a purely theoretical approach to really make them money….I'm going to go out on a limb and say millions of hands are required for this kind of play to surely make you money.

    This leaves the fact that only exploitative play is going to work for most people most of the time. In my case, the only really safe defense is to go down in stakes in order to handle the swings that being all-in seemingly every hour or two is causing, and become just another donk…if you can't beat 'em join 'em…I just don't see subtle edges ever catching up at this rate of playing a couple thousand hands a month.

    Does that make some degree of sense, I wonder?

  7. Sorry, Alec, I'm not unsubbing from the channel, your content is still interesting. But your lack of knowledge and understanding here is amazing. Obviously a huge gap difference between "Game Theory" and "Game Theory Optimal(ization)" but since you said GTO at least twice I have to assume that is what you meant to refer to.
    The would-be Nash Equilibrium is such an "approaching infinity iterations" notion that it has NEVER been reached in any poker game. Suggesting it is even possible is misleading. It would require 2 opponents to be playing GTO start to finish for many, many years to be remotely possible, and when you throw in the variables of others at the table not following suit, it is thrown out the window. There has never been a single instance of someone playing long enough to even approach this outcome from a "statistically relevant" perspective, including Phil Laak's world record session.
    Feel free to make the argument that it can be approached "over time" or "in the long run" but no two players have played strictly GTO over a meaningful number of hands live to come anywhere close to possible.
    There are other issues with what you said, but I'll leave it at that. Not trying to be a dick, but any halfway decent Stats 101 course that takes at least half a class to explain GTO would leave the audience with a better and more proper understanding.

  8. I haven’t seen anyone show me a purely game-theory approach to any real-life poker game that could come anywhere near the profit potential of even common-sense poker. And nobody is likely to show me one for many years. ~~ Doyle Brunson

  9. Hi Alec
    just an another delayed fresh subscriber. 🙂
    Been watchin your cool clips for years now. i like your dedication overall and as it clearly seems to me , your pretty balanced approach overall in life. wish you the best for now and future. stay healthy. good luck.

  10. How is the example 2:25 GTO? Wouldn't raising wider because someone's opening too wide be an example of an exploitative line?The Rock paper scissors hand is only GTO at the end isn't it? The guys are trying to exploit each other and then it ends in GTO after all the adjusting. But if you don't know any spots to exploit then you play GTO for defense. Right?

  11. Cool points – thanks. It's good to understand the ideas behind GTO in order to know when people are stepping over the line so that they can be exploited.

  12. Sir, I tell you something, please do something with the video quality! If you are filming inside of house is not so good! The natural sun lighting is the best, so go near the window! Or maibe film out side! We need the best video quality for the best Poker Vlog on the internet this days! Sorry for the bad english. I have to tell you that i wach all youre content day by day and is impresive. Thank you very much and please consider that comment supportive.

  13. GTOs supposed flaw is that you can play enough hands against a thinking player that you both adjust to the mean. But people arent robots they get bored, just watch live at the bike. They all want to see the flop, and many play bad forever.

  14. Hey Alec, big fan of your videos in general and I think the analysis about GTO vs. exploitation is pretty on the money. However, I have hugeeeee issue with the chess example. I'm an expert level chess player, and the comparison you made honestly is not even remotely valid. Theory is a small part of chess as a game and some players get by up to extremely high levels with little theory knowledge at all, while others are dependent on theory knowledge from a very low rating.

    Call it a pet peeve, but as a high level poker player I feel you have some sort of obligation to make legitimate points. Or perhaps more accurately, it really sucks for me when I'm enjoying the video and then you say something that just sounds ignorant and silly to me. Just food for thought.

    You crushed live at the bike. I'm a big Doug fan, but that hero call was just sickk

  15. in the beginning your basically explaining why there is no money to be made in poker and its nothing more than flipping coins…since everyone is playing the same

  16. I like the video but the one thing that can'tt be taught that will always separate good from greats in poker is emotional control/tilt. Too many people make decisions out of frustration, or having a good run and playing looser because of it. Very very few people can remain consistent all the time. In fact, probably everyone tilts but it's the people who tilt the least who are at the top.

  17. I think the best roshambo strategy to exploit 50% scissors is 100% rocks, not 50% rocks like stated in the video. The difference in EV is 0.25 if you play 100% rocks compared to 0.0625 if you play 50% rocks.

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