Poker movies and TV shows make it seem like poker is all about finding your opponents tells, but that’s only a small part of the game. A complete understanding of the math involved in poker will get you much further then anything else in this game.
Poker math is the backbone of every pros poker strategy. Sometimes it’s not apparent, but it’s always there. For example, those loose aggressive players, like Gus Hansen, who seem to raise every two cards may look like they’re giving very little thought to what they’re doing, but their playing style is actually heavily based on math. They calculate how many pots they can expect to pick up without a hand by playing aggressive and then use their image to their advantage when they do make a hand.
Before making a play, you should first analyze the situation and decide whether it’s positive or negative expected value. For example, a negative expected value would be trying to hit a draw on the river, without the correct pot odds. You’d can get lucky, but in the long run you’ll lose money with this play. A positive expected value play would have be folding, because you can expect to save money, which will add up in the long run.
Learning to calculate outs is crucial in poker. An ‘out’ is a term used to describe how many cards are left in the deck that can improve your hand. You can use this information to determine your odds of winning a hand.
Pot odds is the ratio of chips in the pot compared to your actual odds of winning the hand. So let’s say you’re going for the nut flush draw on the turn, but you’re unsure whether or not it’s correct to call your opponents bet. Well if your odds to make your hand are better then the pot odds, then it’s correct to cal.
Sometimes it’s correct to call a bet without being laid correct pot odds, because of the ability to make up for it on a later street. Usually this works best when you’re going for draws that aren’t to apparent, like double gut-shot straight draws. Implied odds come in to play a lot more in NL games