Using GTO Strategy in Multiway Pots – Can It Account for 3 Players?
Last Updated: September 21, 2021
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The GTO poker strategy has been growing in popularity over the last couple of years, with players looking for ways to remain profitable in modern-day games, which are getting exceedingly more difficult to beat.
However, there are some misconceptions as to what exactly GTO is and how it works. In the current setting, the solvers can calculate heads-up situations with a good level of certainty but are still finding it difficult to come up with solutions for multiway spots.
The reason, of course, is the fact that No-Limit Texas Hold’em is an extremely complex game, and solving multiway situations can get very difficult very fast.
With each player having every option on the table, the number of potential scenarios is nearly infinite.
What’s more, the ranges in multiway spots can get very wide, making it nearly impossible to decide which play will be the best and most unexploitable on every street.
However, that’s not to say that GTO does not work for ring games or tournaments. It is simply more difficult to apply, and you should be careful when using it once a pot goes multiway.
How GTO Can Work in Cash Games
For the most part, the GTO poker strategy is designed for heads-up poker, and that's really the one arena in which it absolutely shines.
If you can get really good at playing GTO poker, you should have a significant edge over the vast majority of opponents across all stakes.
Yet, the GTO poker strategy can also be used in ring games and tournaments to some extent, especially before the flop. The solvers are able to create very comprehensive preflop hand charts for all possible scenarios.
The number one thing you should certainly use GTO for in ring games is the preflop part of your game, where the GTO strategy creates a well-balanced range for every possible play, making it impossible for your opponents to exploit you.
What is more, using the preflop strategy correctly will very often lead you to play heads-up pots after the flop, especially at slightly higher stakes where few players like to cold call bets.
Once the pot is down to two players, you can start treating it like a heads-up poker hand and using the same GTO solutions you have learned for these spots.
However, remember that based on the position and preflop play, the ranges both you and your opponent have may differ from those in a heads-up game.
Nevertheless, you can use solvers to solve heads-up situations in ring games based on exact stack sizes and the preflop gameplay, with the solver giving you perfect solutions for postflop play.
GTO in Multiway Pots Postflop
As I already mentioned, using the GTO strategy in multiway pots is extremely complicated, both because it takes a solver a long time to come up with the solutions and because they can be quite inaccurate depending on the actual ranges your opponents are playing.
In a solid ring game, there won't be too many multiway pots because most players understand that raising is usually better than just calling, except when defending the big blind.
Most pots will come down to two players, the original raiser and either the 3-bettor or the player in the big blind who defended against the raise.
Yet, we still see a lot of multiway pots in typical games because most players don't play the GTO strategy. For that reason, a player must be prepared to play pots against multiple opponents in any ring game they join.
The GTO strategy has some solutions for multiway play as well, but remembering solutions for different multiway situations is nearly impossible.
There are some GTO tools available out there that can help you solve multiway pots from a GTO perspective. Simple 3-Way is one of the best ones out there.
The tool provides you with a NASH equilibrium solver for multiway postflop situations, with river calculations offered free of charge to anyone who wants to use the tool.
Other GTO poker tools such as GTOBase can also help you get a better understanding of how to play a GTO strategy in multiway spots. Getting these tools is a great boost for anyone looking to improve their ring game.
Is GTO Any Good in Ring Games?
I have talked about how you can use the GTO strategy to play in ring games or tournaments, but the real question is whether you really should?
The answer is both yes and no! There are situations in which a GTO approach will do wonders for you in ring games, but also others where you will be bleeding money if you play GTO.
The fact is that many ring games, especially in a live environment, are extremely soft. In such situations, you should definitely lean towards an exploitative style of play and look to crush your weak opponents into the ground.
On the other hand, you could also be seated in a pretty tough lineup, and in this situation, leaning towards a GTO strategy would be better.
In either case, playing a GTO strategy before the flop is usually recommended, and some small deviations may be in order when playing against highly competent players.
On the other hand, playing GTO postflop is nearly impossible when more than one opponent is in the hand with you, and you should not really go out of your way to try and make your plays optimal.
Using an exploitative style in such a situation and playing to your opponents' tendencies is usually a good idea, as most players will tend to over-bluff or under-bluff in multiway situations, which can be exploited.
In either case, I definitely recommend spending some time trying to solve common postflop situations in multiway pots with solvers and seeing what they come up with. At the very least, you will get a sense of how the AI approaches such spots and may end up coming up with some creative lines yourself down the line.