GTO versus exploitative play
All profesional players know game theory optimal strategies quite well, and this is a topic you just have to put in your advanced poker training path.
However, very few understand the actual implementation of this topic. I wrote the full article about GTO poker strategy vs exploitative play, so make sure to check it out if you have a few minutes.
Nevertheless, you need to understand that game theory optimal play is only used as a starting point versus good players or unknowns. When you learn that part, you will make the most money from exploitative play and be punishing your opponents for their mistakes, instead of just trying to balance your ranges.
Many players take GTO too far and try to apply it in every possible situation, leaving a lot of money at the table. Thus, this alone will help you build much better strategies, so take advantage of this knowledge and maximize your EV.
Advanced Preflop Approach
When all previous work is done, you should spend some time mastering preflop strategy. Without understanding it, and most importantly, knowing how to adjust versus different players you will never win a lot of money. If you end up making mistakes preflop, it is close to impossible to play the right strategy later on so this part is essential.
It is like building a house if you lay down bad foundations, there is no way to create everything else, and even if you manage to do that, it will eventually fall. Same is if you make mistakes preflop, you will end up in many dangerous situations where you do not have enough value hands, your ranges are very unbalanced, or you simply end up not bluffing enough, which is bad in all cases.
I know that many players have a misconception about playing from charts and think that it is not a valid strategy so let me answer this once and for all and tell you the secret. Every single good poker player in the world plays from charts, be it printed ones or in his head. It does not matter. There is just no way around it.
I used to think that it is just another statement until I invested a lot of my time and money into actually figuring it out. I was amazed by how quickly I was able to improve my game after building the right ranges for all situations and understanding how to use it. Right now, I have a clear strategy how to play versus regulars, how to play versus unknowns, how to play versus recreational players, how to adjust my approach facing different bet sizing from my opponents and so on. I can quickly identify my opponent’s mistakes and punish them hard.
Therefore, building the best possible preflop strategy should be your top priority if you want to have success. For starters, you can get my FREE preflop poker cheat sheets and start your journey from there.
Analyzing Your Game
There are few options for how you can go about it. The easiest one is to record your session using any of free screen recorders and then review how you played. I am sure that you will see things in a different light when watching your play form the side without being in the heat of the action.
Moreover, if you have poker playing friends, you can ask them to review your video and give feedback. But if you choose this option, you just have to be sure that your friend is a much better player and that he can give valuable advice in the first place.
However, the second option is much more reliable. You will need Poker Tracker or Holdem Manager for this task. Both programs have free trials so you can download and try it out.
It allows creating custom filters, reports and using mighty HUD to see all the information in one place. Thus, you should take advantage of the tools that are available at your disposal.
The good thing about this is that even without knowing what you are doing wrong or knowing what stats are good, you can compare your statistics with winning players. It will help you to identify, where you are deviating from the norm, and most likely, leaving money on the table.
I never had such a clear understanding of the game until I started analyzing mine and my opponent's stats. It was one of the breaking points of my career. I was able to identify, how the theory could be implemented in practice, and how it can help me reach better results. All that said, you just have to play around with these tools, and you will learn more than you think.
On top of that, you can find someone who already done that and learn from them, this is the way I recommend to do it!