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Mathematics & Poker


Importance of Maths in Poker

Maths provides a cornerstone of poker and how to play the game. Although it is by no means essential to incorporate mathematics into every situation, for example your opponent might be so weak that he’ll fold regardless of how much you raise, it certainly helps when trying to play optimally at the table.  Against rasies, re-raises and taking advantage of table position, you definately need need to understand the maths of poker to make good decisions and acheive a big ROI or bb/100 win-rate.

When deciding to make calls or bets on poker sites such as poker770 (particularly how much to raise), maths plays a crucial part in something known as  ‘expected value’. This is one of the most important principles you’ll ever come across in poker and it seperates profitable players from losers. Expected value is a basic formula which takes into account risk, equity and expected winnings.  Obviously you’ll need a balance between risk and profit for any investment to be worthwhile.  For example, if the risk is too high relative to the rewards, you woudn’t both risking any of your money.

Example of Odds

If I were to offer you 5-1 odds on guessing the outcome of a coinflip, you would obviously accept it as it provides a long term profitable outcome. If I were to offer you 5-1 odd on picking a number on a dice roll however, the probability and odds would be against you (your chances of guessing the dice are lower than 5-1).

How to Calculate Expected Value

To calculated expected value in poker you first need to calculate the total value of the total pot you enter, multiply this number by the probability of you winning (outs), then subtract this number by the cost of entering the pot. This gives you a numerical figure (positive or negative) called your “expected value”.

You should only make calls where the expected value figure is positive. As you can see the calculations in pot odds are by no means exhausting and if you follow this strategy you will generally become a profitable poker player.

Calculating Outs

Another requirwment of expected value and maths is that you’re able to calculate your ‘outs’. These are the number of remaining cards in the deck which will win you the hand. For example if you have a flushdraw on the flop and there a 9 cards left in the deck to complete your flush deaw. With 47 cards remining in the deck, 38 will not make our draw. Putting these number together we get a ratio of 38:9  or 4:1 of making a flush by the next card. This means that for every 4 cards that will not make our hand, 1 will.  For great examples of counting outs in poker try reading this article.

Calculating Pot Odds

The next step is to work out what pot odds we have to call. If the size of the pot is $50, and it is $10 to call to try and hit our flush, than the odds we’re receiving are 5:1.  This is better than our odds of making our flush, which is 4:1. This means the odds are in our favour because the odds from the pot are greater than the odds we’re gettting from our cards (overlay). If we make the call it we will be a profitable decision.  For great examples of counting pot-odds in poker read this article.

Conclusion

Again it should be noted athat lthough mathematics is a strong weapon in poker;  it is not a gurantee for success. In addition to knowing your odds and maths, you need to be able to calculate what strength of hand the other person is holding  in order to see whether or not you can win the pot if you make your hand. In the above example, if our player already had a full house on the flop then even if we made our flush we woudn’t win the hand. Therefore it is important not to rely solely on maths when making decisions in poker.

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