To win at poker, you need to read situations and your opponents in order to gain the advantage. Similarly, Poker Mathematics involves calculating the chances of either you or your opponent winning the hand at any time.
Does it make sense to make your poker decisions without incorporating poker mathematics?
Those who don’t use poker mathematics can’t assume that they won’t be winning players, but a thorough understanding of the odds can improve your game and give you an advantage.
There are almost always players who use mathematics in their games without even realizing it.
When it comes to online poker strategy, where does mathematics play a role?
There are many different situations in which poker mathematics can be applied; however, the most common one is when a player is on a draw, such as a flush or straight.
If you are on a draw and your opponent makes a bet, you must decide whether to call to complete the draw or fold, allowing your opponent to win.
Players who are knowledgeable about poker mathematics will always know whether or not to call in this situation, while players without this knowledge will be uncertain.
If a player is unfamiliar with poker odds, they will make an educated guess on whether to call or not. Their decision to call may depend on the size of the bet, but if it is small, they may feel that it is too expensive to try and catch the right card.
In contrast, a player who understands poker mathematics well can figure out the pot odds they are getting and act accordingly. The pot odds are based on your opponent’s bet and the probability of completing your draw to determine whether or not to call or fold.
Occasionally, poker mathematics is applied in a more loose manner but still incorporates them. ‘Expected Value’ can be illustrated by the following situation.
Suppose you’re holding a bottom pair on the river. What should you do? You can use mathematics to determine whether or not you should call if you do not know if your opponent has a better hand than you based on how the hand played out.
The first thing you should do is estimate the probability that your opponent is bluffing and holding a worse hand than you. Assume the following:
- Whenever our opponent has the best hand on the river, he bluffs one time out of three times.
- We have a 1 in 4 chance of getting a better hand than our opponent.
- It is therefore likely that we do not have the best hand 3 out of 4 times.
- Our chances of winning are 3:1 for every 3 losses (3-to-1).
When we call and have the best hand, we win once, but if we call and have the worst hand, we lose three times. This would result in us losing every time we called, and winning after four hands. Therefore, we should make the call every time on the river since we will make a net profit.
This paragraph probably didn’t make much sense at first, but trust us; it isn’t nearly as difficult as it sounds. Essentially, what we were saying was that your odds of winning should be better than those of the pot. To win this pot, we had to call. With three-to-one odds of winning, we are more likely to win than the pot offers.
The most important thing to remember when using poker mathematics is that your decisions won’t affect your winnings immediately.
Making the right call based on the odds in a particular hand does not guarantee that you will win. If you lose the hand, it doesn’t mean you made the wrong decision. You will make more money in the long run if you continue to make good decisions based on odds, so don’t let short-term results influence your long-term decisions.
The process of learning how to use mathematics in poker can be challenging at first, but keep trying because it will help you become a long-term winning player. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll begin to understand pot odds and expected value much more easily.