Math is poker. But more importantly, math can describe anything. It's a language, an idea people tend to overlook.
The common debate in the poker world posed "Are you a math player or a feel player?"
And it's a fun debate to entertain, but the problem is created by the question. Essentially, what is happening is that the brain processes information in a number of ways - the most quantifiable and able to be communicated of which is done in terms of math. When I tell you that I jumped very high, that's a lot different than saying I jumped 1.25 meters off the ground with a still start. I've added rules. I've added specifics. If you saw me jump, you might be able to guess at the height or know that it was high, but without quantifying the results, you can't measure them specifically. The highest stakes poker games
are ALL about specifics.
A handful of the best players in the world recognize patterns in betting, mannerisms, and bet sizing in ways that allow them to exploit most players less than world class. A player who relies on pattern recognition alone will fall when he meets a player who has worked on not giving off patterns and who has a deep mathematical understanding of the game. This type of thinking has dominated several other fields in the recent past, like agriculture and stock trading. Years of experience certainly paint the general picture, but when you need specifics to thrive, then you need math. The same is true for poker.
On the other hand, a player who has done some mathematical work to describe his poker game is only going to take his game so far. So it's not just saying that you know what your pot odds
are in a spot, therefore you're able to beat the best. To properly apply math to poker, you need a solid understanding of game theory, statistics, calculus and a load of other concepts often applied to simpler situations (that can be solved) called toy games. Poker is incredibly complex, especially in No-limit betting formats, and math can really only model solutions at this point. So while we can describe the game mathematically and solve simpler scenarios, there are still many unknowns in the game.
The long and short of it is that the more specific you are with your strategy, the better your results in poker will be. The way you can be specific is with math, even if those "specifics" have to do with extrapolating from small sample size reads. It's always a LOT better than guessing or going with your gut.
As a player who continually analyzes his game, I find inconsistencies with my gut instinct and the best play solved using math fairly often. Does that mean they're huge differences or that I'm usually wrong given my experience? No. But those small differences all add up and learning what they are by using math is what gives me an edge on my competition.