Using Math to Make the Right Decisions in Poker

All poker decisions are based on math, whether you believe it or not. When you play for money, all your decisions have a value. In certain situations these values would be known, like when your only opponent puts it all in the pot and you have a nut hand. You would then know what would be the outcome if you call. But there aren’t many known situations. Most of the times you just have to calculate your odds before you make a decision.

Right decisions

You can influence the math involved in a decision and try to change it to your benefit. In poker it is very easy to the right thing for all the wrong reasons. But there is a difference between the right decision and the really right decisions. When you act in a way that has the best expectation, then that is the correct decision. When all the positives are on your side and you play then you would surely win.


Expectations are not always constant. When you have a K K and you are the first to act then your expectations would be different than the expectations of someone else who is playing with the same hand. There might be some similarity, but they would still be different. These fine lines of expectations are what really make a difference in the long run. If you just play AA hands when get them outside the blinds then you can still have positive expectations, and when you don’t play those hands then it would be a poor decision. Your challenge as a player would be to find the situations that have positive expectations, maximize on them and minimize the ones with negative expectations.

In other situations in life there would be positive expectations too, like going through the pockets before you toss your clothes in the laundry. Every one will come across some money that way in life, but the amount would depend on a lot of different factors. This is a situation that has pure positive expectation for everybody but it is still variable.

Poor play

In poker poor play can very easily turn a positive situation into a negative expectation. Poor play can also lead you to expectations that have no logical reason to occur too. Online websites would have statistics and results of their past games, but that’s not all that is different. However, you would still get a clear idea of a lot of things from these statistics. For example, the data on website said that 32 suited was the hand that performs the worst, it looses 0.17 big bets every time it was dealt. A 32 off suit lost 0.15 and A2 lost as much as 0.16 in comparison.

While 32 off suit is still a better hand than a 32 suited, what this data really tells us that players do play the good hands worse than the worse hands, which makes the expectation of the better hands even worse in comparison to the worse hand.

While this might all sound to be a little complicated, it is still a very critical concept in poker. How you would play a hand would definitely affect the expectation of your hand. If you are smart and fold a 32 off suit, but then for some reason you raise and bet on a 32 suited then you would definitely have a good expectation with the off suit hand then you would have with the suited hand. They will still have negative outcomes, but you would loose less money and that is still as good as winning money. Your goal should be to convert a negative expectation hand into a less negative one and increase the positive expectation of the positive hands.


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