Basic Math in Poker

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Math has not been everyone’s cup of tea during his or her academic days. The lack of understanding basic mathematical concepts has certainly created an aversion. Irrespective of the field you are in, numbers are the name of the game. A better understanding of numbers and mathematical concepts definitely gives you an edge. One such field is poker, where the best poker players use math to help them be consistent with their winnings and get them to where they are right now.

Math does not mean complex formulas and equations that make you go dizzy. It’s all about having a basic understanding of the concept and applying in real life-scenarios to best learn its application. Poker math is all about the math of probabilities.

Here are a few math tips that will help make you effective decisions on the felts:

Probabilities

Remember the favorite card deck example you studied for probability in math? We are going to take a look at how it applies in a game of poker. A deck consists of a total of 52 cards – 13 hearts, 13 diamonds, 13 spades and 13 clubs.

So let’s say you’ve been dealt a pair of nines, it’s simple for you to determine the chances of hitting the third nine on the flop. If the deck has 52 cards and you have two nines, it means there are only two more nines left in the deck. At this stage you will divide 2 (number of a particular card (9) remaining in a deck) by the (total number of cards left in the deck) 50. After that you divide it by 49, and then divide it by 48. On adding the results you will arrive at 11.5% (the percentage chance of hitting another nine on the flop).

So, if you try to analyze the givens, there’s a statistical probability involved in every hand in the game.  If you are able to compute probabilities, it will certainly help you make better decisions and plays that are correct.

Pot Odds

Another crucial part in poker that requires math is pot odds. Pot odds refer to the percentage of the next bet in relation to the pot size. Knowing how to calculate pot odds help determine:

  • Whether or not you need to stay in the game when the other players bet before you.
  • The percentage of the pot you need to invest by how often you need to call

Using a simple example:

  1. Lets assume the total pot size is Rs.900. You need to call Rs.100 to stay in the game. Therefore you get Rs.900 to Rs.100 (9:1) pot odds. If the player calls, the new pot becomes Rs.1000 and the Rs.100 bet accounts for 10% of the new pot.
  2. Lets say you are in big blind position for Rs.50 and a player raises it to Rs.100, you need to add Rs.50 more to call. Lets say all the players call on a full table (9 players), the pot will then be Rs.775 when it comes to you.
  3. If you make a good call, you stand to win that Rs.775 with an 11.5% (as per above example) chance of hitting that third nine.
  4. Therefore if the cards are in your favour, you can collect 7.75x times of what you are risking by putting the additional Rs.50 investment.

Therefore helping you make a profitable call on the hands dealt.

Poker math certainly helps gain a working knowledge on how to go about your hand. Equipped with this information you can apply it to poker strategies to adjust your game and predict potential results. Having a basic math understanding at the initial stages can help make you a more skilled poker player. Get crunching on those numbers, because you will need it to count the zeros in your massive new bankroll!

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