Friday, November 27, 2009

Mathematics of poker

Poker mathematics is a fundamental part of the game, especially for serious, hardcore players. No matter what level of play it really should be part of your game. There are some basics which are normally introduced into a player’s game when they are initially starting out such as outs and pot odds. These practices are only a minor part of the game though. If you were to study poker mathematics in-depth and incorporate them into your game it would take some time. There are many equations for the many varied hands in poker, statistics, probabilities and the like to take into consideration.

maths1 Many poker players do not rely solely on mathematics for their game play. Some simply use their player reading skills and the basic poker concepts. This works very well for some players and it is noted that many players have won big time using these methods. Other players rely mostly on pure poker mathematical skills to make every decision at the poker table. This is especially relevant it seems for the young guns of poker.

It seems as time goes on people are relying more so on learning the very science of maths in poker rather than relying on the more historical reading tactics used since the game of poker began. In theory it is a poker revolution. I once wrote an article about poker mathematics in high schools. Based on my research for this article that there will be many more poker mathematical geniuses approaching the tables in years to come; with kids as young as 16 learning statistics and probabilities of certain poker hands even at school.

This level of mathematics studied by students is a level up on the basics pot odds and outs level. It is still a long way from learning in-depth mathematical equations to be used at the poker table. The next level; learning these equations is some task!

The equation for the odds of holding 2 pair is almost four A4 pages long. Need I mention how big the mathematical equation for the odds of holding a Royal Flush is?Other factors and equations involved in the mathematics of poker include variance, risk, estimating parameters and even equilibrium push strategy - which is basically a jam or fold determination mathematical system.

There are plenty of poker mathematics books available on the market that will teach you all mathematical aspects of the game of poker that are mentioned above; plus more. It is suggested prior to purchasing and attempting to learn them you ensure your basic mathematical skills are up to scratch as again, learning the mathematics of poker is no easy task.

The most basic (but still in-depth) poker mathematics book that I personally have managed to find is The Mathematics of Poker by authors Bill Chen and Jerrod Ankenman. I admit to finding difficulties in learning even some of the poker mathematics that is taught in this book. Another more advanced poker mathematics book which I took one look at and put down due to my own personal level based purely on odds only is Texas Hold'em Odds by Catalin Barboianu. This is an excellent poker maths book focusing on one section of poker mathematics. This book is a little harder to find but well worth buying for future reference. Remember the mathematics of poker will never change.

After writing this article I am promoted to pick up the second book I have mentioned (Texas Hold'em Odds) and attempt reading it for the second time. Like with any part of a poker players game our poker mathematics skills are always growing whether we realise or not. Mine have obviously grown. Keep in mind though the few pieces of advice I have for you when studying poker mathematics or even contemplating it. For those who are contemplating remember “ If you assume that poker mathematics isn't an important part of your game you haven't learnt and simply don't know the right maths”. For those who are poker mathematically geniuses “No matter how good your poker mathematics skills are remember that playing poker on a maths based level only isn't going to win you the game, play the game, the people and make strategic decisions based on ALL your skills”.


  1. This is an excellent post..makescalculations all the more easier...

  2. I am no expert, just drop by a comment. I guess poker is more like a mind game? Where blackjack depends more on the calculations, eg. card count and position sizing?

  3. I also like mathemmatics of gambling but never make it though in my country. Great post, remind me of my school days as well.


Related Posts with Thumbnails

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner