This is a discussion on Calculating combinations in poker  why? within the online poker forums, in the Cash Games section; I've read articles and books that suggest calculating combinations in poker is a good way of evaluating hand ranges. Let's say you have AA and 


#1




Calculating combinations in poker  why?
I've read articles and books that suggest calculating combinations in poker is a good way of evaluating hand ranges. Let's say you have AA and the board is 10J232, and you narrow down a particular villain's range to JJ, 1010 and QK when he fires a third barrel for pot on the river. The book or article will then suggest that there are 6 combinations of JJ, 6 of 1010, and 16 of QK. Add up these and you win just 16/28 when he has QK and lose 12/28 when he fills up and since you only have to win 1/3 times it's an easy call etc.
However this all seems impractical to me, since the combinations in reality will not be equally distributed. For example here your opponent may only bluff occasionally with the QK and usually have the boat, in which case the call will be EV. So why calculate combinations when in reality ranges are so weighted? Isn't it more practical to just think of the villain's history and say: well i remember he shows up with a full house in this spot around 4/5 times so I should fold. So why do books on poker strategy put so much emphasis on combinations in poker, when you can effectively figure out villain's likely (weighted) range by their showdown history? I feel like I'm missing something here... 
#3




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Is there any advantage at all of instead narrowing your opponent's range to a bunch of hands and adding up all the combinations? It just seems pointless and misleading (since the frequencies of each combination will be different). 
#4




re: Poker & Calculating combinations in poker  why?
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#5




Im currently learning to think in combos, im playing with equilab which is software from pokerstrategy.com i fund this thread, i think that it can help
http://www.cardschat.com/f11/combos101a139360/ you also can check out the last few pages of my thread ev where i tried playing with equilab 
#6




this process of thought isnt working for you because youre doing it wrong. thats a ridic range to assign even after a 3rd barrel regardless of villain.
post a hand with bulk relevant stats and get other people to narrow villains range so you can see how they do it 
#7




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What I don't get is how people say things like: well there are 16 combos of AK but only 6 combos of JJ so it's almost 3 times as likely that he'll have AK, when in practice you might find that he shows up with AK and JJ just as often because he likes playing JJ more. 
#8




re: Poker & Calculating combinations in poker  why?
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#9




Hi Tom. I think that combos are important and suggest the way you use maths in poker is entirely your decision. If you think that all these calculations are expect to run within 60 secs it can be very difficult to work everything out. Then remember you probably play 15  20 hands every 10 mins  that can give you a headache !!
The more we learn about maths in poker  the more there is to learn. I believe you need to know the basics and then apply tem as you feel fit. Poker is not just about probabilty, there is "common sense", "Gut feeling" and "variance" as well. Take the maths seriously, but dont forget to enjoy the game as well, otherwise it is a waste of time. Gl to you all, however you play......... 
#10




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So going back to my initial question, the point I was trying to make was that assuming ranges tend to be weighted in some way, wouldn't it be misleading to use pokerstove or add up combos to calculate a player's range? To put this into perspective, I've played a lot of 2nl and 5nl recently and I tend to check raise bluff with a wide range of hands OTF and generally have a very narrow value range (TPTK+). Someone might mistakenly add up all my possible bluff combos in a certain position and all my value combos and conclude: "Ah, he has just as my bluffing hands in his range as value hands. Therefore I should call." When in actual fact, at these limits I tend to be value checkraising with the nuts far more often than when I'm bluffing, so calling would be EV for them. Some of the regs who've played a lot of hands against me might instead think, "Ok well I know from showdown history that after this guy check raises OTF he shows up with a bluff 10 percent of the time and a strong value hand the other 90 percent. Therefore I should almost always fold here" This is the approach I use when I think about ranges of my opponent's hands. I never add up all of the exact combinations for what my opponents might have and mathematically calculate a range based on this, not only does this take far too long at the table but it also misleads you to make the wrong conclusion. All i do is think back about what my opponent tends to showdown after making a certain play and evaluate from that information whether my hand is good. I mean, I'm still a winning player at these limits (12bb/100 over a large sample), so my method seems to be working to some extent. But since people put a lot of emphasis into the importance of calculating the combos a player can have, I'd like to know if there's an approach to range evaluation and calculating combos that could improve my winrate further, and which also takes into account the unequal distributions in people's ranges. 
#11




I understand what you're saying but in a vacuum, if somebody is opening a certain % of hands from each position we probably have to assume he's always doing it with the same frequency simply because its part of their range. Of course poker is not played in a vacuum and there is a lot more to it: table dynamics, somebody might feel like QQ is his lucky hand today so he'll be opening only those hands etc > it all leads to weighted ranges. IMO at the end it all comes down to your exploitative skills, if somebody is folding a lot OTF you dont have to bother with counting combinations to make sure you are always x/r with a balanced range etc.

#12




re: Poker & Calculating combinations in poker  why?
you can weight ranges across aggregate players or even for a single player if you want, but that doesn't ignore combination counting. Its even more important to consider combinations with respect to blockers, look at your initial example, there aren't 6 combos of JJ and 6 of TT, there are 3 of each due to combinations, its also especially useful when a turn or river card blocks a significant part of their range, which turns a break even call into a great call or fold.

#13




Thanks for the feedback. This seems to be making a bit more sense now. I think I was getting too concerned about calculating a ton load of combos at the table. But from what you are saying it doesn't seem like that is necessary, and that at the table you should use math and your KNOWLEDGE of combinations to do things like use and interpret blockers, as you suggested, to reduce the likelihood of a certain part of his range.
