The Importance of Math in Poker

Math is an important tool in poker not the only tool, but part of an important arsenal. To compete in any poker game, especially in an online poker game where, because of the myriad hands played, all players have access to thousands of hands of statistical data, learning the basic probabilities and odds of various poker situations becomes essential to making the right decisions. Playing free poker initially can be a good idea to learn a few math tricks.

There are some extremely intelligent people who take the math-aspect of poker to an extreme degree, applying advanced principles of game theory and Bayesian concepts to their game, but still other players of the older school of poker, players like Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth, Huck Seed, armed with superior honed instincts, psychological insight, and elementary understanding of odds and probabilities, consistently place at the top of the game.

Here is one of many examples where math will guide a poker decision. Say you are playing in an online poker tournament and have 2000 in chips, from the 1500 you started with 10 players are at the table. The blinds have risen to $100-$200, and there is a $25 ante. You are in the big blind and are dealt 2-6 off suit. This is a terrible hand! But in this example, you’ll be calling with it. Here’s why. Everyone except the small blind folds. This is rare, but itll happen. The small blind, having suffered a bad beat, only has 500 chips left. He raises all in.

Some players who arent aware of the math would fold, here, but that would be a huge mistake! Consider the money thats in the pot with $300 from the blinds, another $225 in antes, plus the $400 added by the all-in bet of the small blind, there is $925 in the pot!! And although you have a lowly 2-6, you need only call $300 more to try to earn more than TRIPLE on your money. Against the range of hands that the small blind could have, chances are you are no worse than a 2-and-a-half to one underdog but getting 3-to-1 on a call!! Even if the small blind has AK suited, or AQ or AJ suited, youre no worse than 32% to win!!!! That makes a call mathematically necessary! All this in addition to the increase in tournament equity simply by eliminating another player and getting closer to the money.

Without the math, youd never have known.

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