What Can I Do? I’m Not Good at Math

Poker math: numbers floating in the air.  Let Juicy Stakes make sense of it all for you.

Let’s talk about poker math. Some players are naturals at math and pick up poker math fast. Most players are not so good at math and need a simple tutorial with easy to understand explanations.  Juicy Stakes wants you to have "Juicy Poker" so here is the start of our easy poker math tutorial.

What Does Poker Math Cover?

A lot of people get conniptions when they have to do math in any situation.  For example, which product in a supermarket is a better buy?  The problem is that one package is a price for one size and the other product is a different price for a different size!  What is a person who has a hard time adding three numbers in his head to do? 

The answer in the supermarket is: we estimate!  Believe it or not, poker math is often just an estimate.  Some math wizards can go to the fourth decimal point and figure out the math in great detail.  Most of us have by now forgotten what a decimal point is!

Nevertheless, we can all learn how to use poker math to make us better poker players!  It’s not nearly as hard as most people think! 

The Key to Poker Math for Non-mathematical People

There is a single key to opening up your mind to poker math: numbers are your friends!  The reason is that numbers are static things; they don’t change with the weather or political opinions or any other important elements that do make our decisions change.

In that sense, numbers are like a clay robot: they seem to have a life of their own but they don’t!  So, let numbers do all the heavy lifting for you!  If you let them do all the heavy lifting for you, they will never let you down! 

They won’t guarantee that you will win a hand but they will tell you if it’s time to call, raise, or fold.  Those are the only three decisions you will make based on poker math.

You have other decisions to make based on your opponents’ tendencies, your stack, your position, and hand ranges.  None of these decisions are directly related to poker math.

Start by Understanding What a Deck of Cards Is

A deck of cards has 52 cards.  You will be playing with a single deck of cards against several to many opponents’.  Since the deck has 52 cards, any math that involves the odds of improving your hand will be a fraction of the number of cards you need divided by the number of cards left in the deck.

This fraction can be converted into the odds of improving your hand.

How Does Poker Math Relate to My Opponents’ Down Cards?

You can’t see these cards.  If an opponent folds before the flop, as most players will, you will never see those cards.  So, for the purpose of figuring out the odds of getting a card you need, these cards are still in the deck!

One of the big reasons some players have such a hard time getting the hang of the basics of poker math is because they can’t accept that hidden cards in an opponent’s hand are still “in the deck” for the purpose of poker math!

Poker Math Begins with Cards that Can Help You Win the Hand

There are also cards that will improve your hand but will not help you win the hand.  This fact is not related to poker math; it is related to your understanding of how players bet and what they probably have hidden to justify a given bet.

A player who raises in early position probably has a very good pair or ace-king suited.  Or, he or she has a very good hand that is not as good as these.  But, if you can’t compete with a high pair or ace-king suited, then you should leave the hand forthwith.  This is just good poker and has nothing to do with poker math!

At this point, you should realize that poker math will apply only on hands where you have a strong enough hand to win and at least one other opponent is indicating that she has a strong enough hand to win.  She might be bluffing!  Poker math will tell you if it is worth your while to call or raise in the event that she is bluffing.  On the other hand, she might have a very powerful hand!  Poker math will tell you if it is worth your while to find out!

There are many decisions that involve poker math.  Let’s say that you are very confident that you have the best hand and you want an opponent to stay in the hand so that you can win more money.  It helps you to figure out how much to bet that will keep the opponent in the hand.  She might figure out the pot odds and decide that it worth it for her to call!

That type of hand occurs very often!  A player who doesn’t know poker math well, might bet a very high sum and force all of her opponents to fold!  In this case, and in many others, knowing the basics of poker mat can help you win more money on your good hands.

How Can I Know if I Have a Good Hand?

Sometimes a low pair will win!  Sometimes a pair of aces is hopelessly weak!  It’s hard to tell and that is one of the things that makes poker so fascinating!  In the course of things, every good poker player throws away winning hands because the hands looked weak when they folded!

Who could have known that the flop, turn, and river would produce a straight flush?  Poker math has nothing to do with that kind of scenario.  However, good poker requires that we fold many hands that we could have won!  It’s good poker to do so because we would have lost money on a lot more hands!

Poker Players Have to Count their “Outs”

An out is a card that will improve your hand to winning status.  There are many cards that will improve your hand but not to winning status.  In many cases, you might improve to a strong hand but the community cards indicate that someone might have a better hand.

The most common conundrum involves straights and flushes. 

These are very strong hands!

In a game like Texas Holdem, two players might both have strong hands but one has a straight or the makings of a straight and the other might have a flush or the makings of a flush. 

Poker math will tell the players if it is worth their while to bet into the possibility that the opponent doesn’t hit their out.

We will finish this part one of our tutorial on poker math by talking about “reading” the board in coordination with your hand and an opponent’s hand.

You have two cards that are far from each other in the hierarchy of cards but they are suited.  This alone leads you to stay in long enough to see the flop.  Let’s say that two of the same suit land on the flop.  You have four to a flush which is a powerful hand going into the turn and the river since there are a lot of outs that can give you the flush.

However, you also have to imagine how the flop may have helped an opponent as well!  This involves understanding that opponent’s betting patterns and what might be hidden in their hole cards. 

When will We Start to Talk Numbers?

Next time!

In the meantime, Juicy Stakes Poker invites all new players to join NOW and get started on a wonderful online poker journey!