How Important Is Poker Mathematics?
Do I need to learn mathematics to win money from poker?
No. It’s possible to win money from poker without learning the mathematics of the game.
However, it’s very difficult to become a consistent winner without learning poker mathematics. Furthermore, without a working knowledge of mathematics in poker you are severely limiting your potential.
So it’s not essential, but you’d be foolish to ignore poker mathematics.
Poker mathematics and weather forecasting analogy.
People can predict the weather in two different ways:
- Using scientific research and data.
- Using old wives’ tales and superstition.
Out of these two methods, which would give you the most accurate forecast? I’d rather find out that there is going to be a thunderstorm from the guy that’s done the scientific research, rather than the guy that’s noticed that a few cows are lying down in the field.
The same goes for poker. Which player do you think will do the best? The girl that uses solid mathematical probability and odds to influence her decisions, or the girl that makes her decisions off of hunches and a perceived “sixth sense”.
And yes, this is the best analogy that I could come up with.
Check out my rankings of the top Texas Hold'em poker rooms for US players. You may be surprised.
Are you unfamiliar with poker mathematics?
The majority of players reading this article are the ones that are not very familiar with the mathematics of poker, and they’re wondering if you can get by without learning the math of the game.
If you’re one of those players, you are leaving a gaping hole in your game by ignoring the mathematical side of poker. That’s the long and short of it. I'm not going to pretend that you can do just as well without learning the math of the game or that it really isn't all that important, because it is.
You might like to think that poker is all about tells, reads and “feel”, but you’re only fooling yourself. I don’t care what kind of sixth sense you claim to have, if you don’t know about pot odds you are throwing money down the drain.
Is poker mathematics difficult?
Not nearly as difficult as you probably think it is. It’s certainly not so difficult that you need to convince yourself that you’ll never be able to get your head around it.
If you’re not trying to learn the math involved with playing good poker you are just being lazy.
If you think you’re intelligent enough to outwit your opponents, you have more than enough brain power to work with the numbers. And no, just because math wasn’t your strongest subject at school it doesn’t mean you’re not going to be able to understand it all. Stop making excuses.
Why is mathematics important?
Mathematics is the foundation of every single tip and strategy involved with playing poker. Probability and odds control the edges that create your winrate and help to win you money from other players at the table.
You don’t call with a drawing hand because you “have a good feeling”, you call because you have good odds.
You don’t bluff because you somehow “know” that your opponent has a weak hand. You bluff because mathematics suggest that it’s +EV because you will win more from the times they fold than you lose from the times they call.
If mathematics is at the core of every decision you make, how can you ignore it and still intend on becoming a great poker player?
How much mathematics do I need to know?
Honestly? A little bit of mathematics will take you a very long way.
Now you've got some strategy under your belt, use it against the terrible players at Bodog Poker and win even more money than before.
Where do I start?
Check out my poker mathematics section and start with the beginner stuff. That should brief you on all the most important parts of mathematics in poker.
You could also try the mathematics articles in my Texas Hold’em guide. They explain the same topics but in a different writing style that you may be able to relate to a little better.
All the information is out there. All that’s between you and a good understanding of poker mathematics is time, a little effort and practice. If you’re serious about your game you’ll take the time to get to grips with it all.
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