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If you want to reach Level 2 and understand the hands your opponents have, we’d recommend watching a cards-down poker live stream and pausing to consider what each player could likely have in each scenario based on how they play. This allows you to work on your hand reading in a low-pressure environment, and once you’ve developed your skills, you can take them to the poker table.
Yes, when you are playing against opponents who have a simplified thought process, overcomplicating your multiple level thinking will only detriment you. Remember, you only need to be one level above your opponent to exploit them, so if your opponent is on Level 1, don’t waste your mental energy thinking on Level 3 or 4.
Yes, all professional poker players have a comprehensive understanding of poker on multiple levels. Big names like Phil Hellmuth, Tom Dwan, and Daniel Negreanu would not be able to reach the heights they have without a mastery of MLT strategies.
Yes! Beginners can absolutely benefit from adopting MLT strategies. In fact, we’d go as far to say that you can’t become a good player without thinking on multiple levels. By adopting MLT strategies, you broaden your perspective on the game and open your mind to new strategies that otherwise wouldn’t have occurred to you.
Yes, despite the fast-paced nature of the game, you can absolutely use multiple level thinking in online games. By using technology such as HUDs as well as paying close attention to your opponents, you can identify the levels of each player and use that to your advantage.
Yes, MLT strategies can be used against players who play in an unorthodox manner. While they may play unconventionally, you should be able to work out whether they’re thinking on Level 1, 2, or 3. Once you’ve ascertained their level of thinking, you can out-level them and successfully exploit the way they play.
Truthfully, the best players are consistently thinking on multiple levels while they’re playing, and only reduce the number of levels as and when they need to. You shouldn’t be focusing on only what you have or only what your opponent thinks of you; you should be constantly thinking across the levels to best understand how you should play your hand, and the only way to do this is by practicing!
Overthinking is a dangerous trap to fall into, but it’s important to remember that the best way to exploit your opponents is to play one level above them. They’re on Level 1? You think on Level 2. They’re on Level 2? You think on Level 3.
When poker was first played, almost all players were Level 1 thinkers, only concerned about the strength of their own hand. Over the years, the smartest players realized that by considering what their opponents have, they could alter their strategy and increase their win rate. Since then, MLT strategies have evolved to cover multiple levels of thinking, with the best players consistently thinking at least three levels deep!
GTO or Game Theory Optimal play is a style of play that focuses on playing the best theoretical strategy in any situation, whereas multiple level thinking seeks to use your opponent’s thought process against them and is considered to be an exploitative strategy.
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