This is a discussion on Are you all naturally good mathematicians? within the online poker forums, in the Learning Poker section; I'm getting the strong impression that in order to excel at understanding and playing poker, or simply put to 'get it', you have to 'just 



#1




Are you all naturally good mathematicians?
I'm getting the strong impression that in order to excel at understanding and playing poker, or simply put to 'get it', you have to 'just get' maths. A photographer 'gets' composition and what 'looks' right, a musician 'gets' tonality, a poker player just 'gets' probability and maths.
I mean given a logical explanation and a lot of brain power I can eventually understand a mathematical concept, but it isn't intuitive to me, mostly. Arithmetic and what not are fine, but when it comes to things like 'EV' and long term gain and incorporating that into short term play... so far the amount of mathematical information that I as a beginner have come across and that needs consideration on every single hand seems more complicated than the equations required in simulating a biological process in a computer. Would you all say you just 'get it'? 
#3




funny you mention photography and music. I enjoy taking photos and have been making music as a hobbie, but I am however not so good at math. However I do enjoy poker and I think experience comes a long way when it comes down to skill and technique. Too be honest , I struggled in math poorly in highschool, and I always hated it, but somehow i find it relaxing to play poker. Its something I been trying to figure out myself as it is a weakness or leak that needs to be fix.

#4




I am only up to algebra level of math so I am not an expert at by any means. That is about enough to do some expected value (EV) equations and such though.
I still don’t really use pot odds while playing even though I tried learning it. I need to spend a lot more time practicing it. 
#5




Quote:
from you other posts, I see you "get" what a 5:1 or 4:1 drawing hand is... ...and I'd assume you "get" what you are holding... so how exactly do you know to call or fold? It's actually simpler than it looks... ok, your draw is 5:1 to hit...what size bet do you call and to what size bet do you fold to a $100 pot? well there's a hint in the 5:1 ...if you have all the time in the world, a pencil and paper and a calculator handy: you start by finding the "break even point"  higher than this value fold, lower call the total pot size (or the base pot plus the bet and call) per every 6 calls times "how much" per call or pot/(total calls * cost per call)... so for $100 pot... it becomes: ($100 + 2X)/(6 * X) where "X" is how much per call Yuck! the math sux even with all the time in the world AND a calculator... but let's continue... so to "break even" the net ratio will be one..win as much as you lose so... ($100 + 2X)/(6X) = 1 pull out the (yuck) algebra and solve for X: multiply both sides by 6X we get 6X = 100 +2X add 2X to both sides.... 6X2X = 100 or 4X = 100 divide both sides by 4 X=25 Does that work? Let's see... in 6 similar hands, Pot $100, villain bets $25, you're sitting on a 5:1 draw call $25 so you put in $25 six times or $150 out of those 6 times you win once: the $100 the villain's bet of $25 and your call of $25 for a total of $150 ...you risked $150 and won $150 so you broke even Good grief...high school algebra does have a real purpose in life! ...but good grief...we don't have all the time required to do that...or do we?? look back and you'll see that with a 5:1 it simplified to 6X2X = 100 ...and that 6X is ALWAYS the both sides or the 5:1 ADDED together ...and that 2X is ALWAYS twice the bet... and since it's ALWAYS written as 5:1 or 4:1 or even (yuck) 2.33:1 ...so really we're ALWAYS adding 1 to the left side BEFORE subtracting 2 ...which will ALWAYS be the left side minus 1 ...and then we ALWAYS divide the pot by this number! ...so all of a sudden, if you know you're 5:1 and the pot is $100 then 51 is 4... 100/4 (easy maths, no?) is 25 so $25 is "break even"...$26 fold, $24 call..piece of cake, no? poker life would be a piece o cake if the pot was always $100, no? 5:1 becomes 4 .... pot of $100 divided by 4 the break even point is $25 4:1 becomes 3 ... pot of $100 divided by 3 the break even point is about $33 2.33 becomes 1.33...pot of $100...ummm..yuck..well wait... 1.33 is "one and a third" or 4/3 pot of $100 divided by 4/3 is... *gasp* that algebra stuff is handy again... it's the same as 3/4 * 100 (remember that whole invert and multiply crud?) or the break even point is $75! So pot of $100, bet of $35... 5:1 draw? fold 4:1 draw? fold 2.33:1 draw? CALL! rut rho...what about a pot of $300,$500 or $1200? ..actually still easy...the pots are just 3,5,and 12 times as big.. ..so the break even point is just 3, 5 and 12 times the break even point for $100 so $300 pot: 5:1 draw becomes $75, a 4:1 is ~$99 and a 2.33:1 is $225 and so on and so on 
#6




...not sure if that helped or hurt...
..for some I'm sure it's easier to do the "how many of those bets are in the pot already" trick... take the $100 pot and the $35 bet... ...the pot of $100 is more than twice the bet ($70) but less than 3 times the bet ($105)... ..so the pot plus the bet without your call is "more than 3 but less than 4" ...so if your draw is 5to1 (5:1) or 4to1 (4:1), both the "4to" and "5to" are larger than the "more than 3 but less than 4" to one in the pot..so fold but with the 2.33to1 draw, the 2.33 is smaller than the "more than 3 but less than 4" so call 
#7




re: Poker & Are you all naturally good mathematicians?
No doubt it would help if I was, but...
Ask Ivey what he thinks of books Ask Negreanu what he thinks of game theory optimal Ask Durrrr what he thinks of Slansky and only having one strategy Perfect pot odds doesn't always equal perfect poker. 
#8




I've been playing music for atleast 18 or 19 years now. I never got taught anything, I just picked up the guitar, and sat on the drums and played. Music does run in my family so I guess that helps out too.
Now poker, I feel, has been the same. I'm terrible at math, but somehow can make deciscions that I know feel right. I have read books, and this site has helped alot. But to me it's more of a feeling. My comprehenstion in reading hasn't been that great either, so yeah. Maybe that's why I'll stay at a certain level in poker? I don't know..I feel I have gotten better over time. Also my sister plays poker, she pretty damn good too! And she's never read books either. 
#9




You don't always have to know math to be a great poker player. Phil Helmuth didn't know much of math in his early career as a poker player.
You can still become successful by knowing the basics. Some people don't even use math, rather they use psychology to help them in poker. You have to find your strengths and adjust.! 
#10




Don't worry about the math seeming hard. I'm 15 and have no issue whatsoever with the necessary calculations for beating 10/25NL. It all comes with practice. All I've had is algebra one thusfar and tbh I think that's all you really need until nosebleeds lol.
Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk 
#11




i have a knack for math. Its definitely my strongpoint from what IQ tests have showed me. In college I pretty much got straight A's in the math courses I took. I got all the way up to intermediate algebra or something. The next highest math courses to that in my college were calculus and probability/statistics. I never went to that level though... Never developed my math skills. Not that I didnt find math interesting. I figured I probably should have done something with it though. I remember everyone else in my class completely stumped or dreading the math test coming up. It was 0 stress for me. Still upsets me to this day I didn't pursue a highly mathematical career...
When it comes to poker, it seems to me that the mathematics are pretty simple. Being somewhat new myself I havent totally mastered the "poker math" yet. In general it doesn't take any detailed calculating or number crunching to realize that the pot is HUGE and that you ought to take a shot at getting the pot. Or if the pot is tiny, and theres no point in trying to take the pot. But getting down to the gory details of calculating your odds of drawing a card and comparing it to the pot size compared to what your being asked to bet is still something I need to get familiar with. Shouldnt take me long, being good at math and all. Just got to memorize how many of each card is in the 52 card deck first of all....That shouldnt take long. 
#14




re: Poker & Are you all naturally good mathematicians?
PokerPete,
Thanks very much for that extensive breakdown! I think what I'm having trouble discerning now is the exact definitions of the parameters of your equations, e.g. total pot size, breakeven etc. Even though everything you write systematically makes mathematical sense, I had trouble applying it. So instead, see if I have this right:  Drawing odds 5:1. Pot of $120. Villain bets $20. Pot now $140. Pot odds = New pot/call = $140/$20 = 7:1. Call the bet. In theory: Game 1: Pay $20  lose. New total = $20 Game 2: Pay $20  lose. New total = $40 Game 3: Pay $20  lose. New total = $60 Game 4: Pay $20  lose. New total = $80 Game 5: Pay $20  lose. New total = $100 Game 6: Pay $20  win. New total = $40 Game 7: Pay $20  lose. New total = $20 Game 8: Pay $20  lose. New total = $0 Game 9: Pay $20  lose. New total = $20 Game 10: Pay $20  lose. New total = $40 Game 11: Pay $20  lose. New total = $60 Game 12: Pay $20  win. New total = $80 = PROFIT Drawing odds 7:1. Pot of $90. Villain bets $20. Pot now $110. Pot odds = new pot/call = $110/$20 = 5.5:1. Fold. In theory: Game 1: Pay $20  lose. New total = $20 Game 2: Pay $20  lose. New total = $40 Game 3: Pay $20  lose. New total = $60 Game 4: Pay $20  lose. New total = $80 Game 5: Pay $20  lose. New total = $100. Game 6: Pay $20  lose. New total = $120. Game 7: Pay $20  lose. New total = $140. Game 8: Pay $20  win. New total = $30 Game 9: Pay $20  lose. New total = $50 Game 10: Pay $20  lose. New total = $70 Game 11: Pay $20  lose. New total = $90 Game 12: Pay $20  lose. New total = $110 Game 13: Pay $20  lose. New total = $130. Game 14: Pay $20  lose. New total = $150. Game 15: Pay $20  lose. New total = $170. Game 16: Pay $20  win. New total = $60 LOSS And if I'm the first to bet, am I right in thinking that if  My odds are 5:1, I bet a quarter of the pot (51)?  I've just tried applying this to a game and every time it comes to me I fret and have no idea where to start. I've written in Notepad three different scenarios and I am still not convinced by them. SCENARIO 1  converting percentage probability of winning AFTER DRAW into a bet amount We are on Turn, I have 2 pair. I am using pokerprobability.net* to tell me my percentage chance of winning with the 2 pair. Let's say it says it is 75%. I am first to bet so I need to work out how much to bet. I need to convert the percentage to odds: 1/0.77 = 1.42, so odds are 1.421, = 0.42:1 How much to bet then, based on these odds: Subtract y from x, this is the fraction of the pot I should bet => 0.421... uhoh... 0.58 Pot is $3.41. $3.41/0.58 = I bet $2.83. $2.83 is 83% of the pot for a 75% chance of winning... whether there is a correlation there I don't know... IS THIS RIGHT?! *Still unsure as to whether this is even reliable, but then how do I calculate my odds of winning if the draw is already there? SCENARIO 2 Converting drawing odds based on outs into a bet 1) 9 outs on flop = 1.86:1 by the river 2) 1.861 = 1/0.86th of the pot 3) Pot = $3.41, => 3.41/0.86 = $3.96 bet SCENARIO 3 Whether to call a bet 1) Drawing odds 0.48:1. 2) Pot of $3.41 after villain bet $1.60. 3) Pot odds = $3.41/$1.60 = 2.13:1 4) Call the bet *brain collapse* 
#15




Quote:
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others might give you a different answer here, but... short answer: If it's me playing...probably no.... now granted, I consider myself far from aggressive enough For me at least, it really depends on the game, number of folks at my table, my stack size, etc, etc... Case where I might make this play, of the top of my head... Head up, big stack BB/UTG, button/villain flats to me holding 57os I check, happy to get to see the flop free, Flop hits 246 rainbow... I put my opponent on two mediocre cards, maybe overs.... not too good of a hand or he would have raised pf instead of flatting... I'm open ended and 5:1 (8 outs)...he's missed too but still has 6 outs (7:1)... making this bet leaves him without odds to call if he missed but still has overs.... and I'm throwing in just that much in case he comes back over the top holding K6, 46, 26, etc...and I can let my hand go... ...or maybe I'm playing from CO folds around to me, I look down at KQos, make a play for the blinds and get flatted by the button and the blinds fold... flop hits J4T rainbow, I bet out a quarter pot and he folds his 78 suited ...or maybe if I'm last to act and it's check around to me, I might do this to try and steal it... but other than special, similar circumstances, if I'm out of position, have basically zip, nadda, except for the draw, I'm really more likely to check this and see if I can get a free card or an option to make a call should someone else give me odds to do so... 
#16




Quote:
I'm thinking this is more of a value betting or folding to a possibly better hand situation than a pot odds situation.... I've personally only used pot odds for sizing my bet to take away odds for a villain "hanging around" and ultimately out drawing me when I was ahead... ..or deciding whether to call a bet when probably behind, but I could hit a draw and win.... Quote:
are you looking to size your bet based on your odds or trying to take away odds to call your bet with you currently believing you have the best hand?? Quote:
not sure where this came from... but basically it means that for every 2 hands your draw hits, they'll be on average one time your draw doesn't hit ..and assuming you feel that "if my draw hits, I'll win" then so no matter what, you'll win one more pot+bet for every three like hands.. if this is the case, there is no amount that can be bet to which you fold.... 
#18




I am pretty good in "basic" math. I dont have problem to count probability in moment and similar stuff. At the end of high school we all took IQ test and "interview" with psychologist to help us decide about our future... It was pretty complex test aiming on many aspects. And in math part (when you had series of numbers and you had to write which number will be next... something like 1, 7, 14, 22, 31 ? but harder ofc ) I had results on level of genius.
So that helps me in poker, but there are also other important factors which you need If you want to be highly profitable in poker. 
#21




re: Poker & Are you all naturally good mathematicians?
I love math, and learning percentages and odds, and calculating can only go so far. It is more in the read of the way the hand played out up until the point of when you need to make this decision. I love gambling, go big or go home!!! Mathematics does play roles in almost every gambling situation, whether the risk or reward pays off or not.

#22




I have always been good calculating numbers in my head, and was mathsoriented class during high school but actually hated to study so called "higherlevel" maths. Good understanding of odds and ability to calculate quickly certainly helps, but I think my best advantage is strong game selection (MTTs) and that I don't gamble with my bankroll. Many old friends from high school also play poker, they also usually played chess early.
Being good in maths certainly helps, but isn't anything that makes anyone great player. 
#25




being able to calculate hand odds, assuming you can read opponents. and knowing pot odds helps but other things are important too.e.g playing in position, raising to show strength,(whether you have the cards or not) and as kenny says knowing when to fold. In,essence experience is more important than being a mathmetician.

#26




I know there is a ton of math in poker but I tend to just go with my gut in some situations. I do know my outs but not the total odds in every situation in poker. I really havent had to use all of those math problems to play my poker. I pretty sure I will use it later one in my poker but im pretty happy with how im playing these days.

#29




Quote:

#32




the maths requirements are more and more when your buyin level up.
but don't need to naturally good at maths, but need to find a way how to find problem and slove it and applied the results to tables. may doing the maths work when not playing poker...GL 
#34




In my opinion (for what it's worth) if you can calculate what your gut, heart and mind tells you to do.... screw math.

#35




re: Poker & Are you all naturally good mathematicians?
I would say that it is an advantage for sure to know your odds and how they relate relative to position. There are a lot of instances where you may be ahead or behind, and unless you know your opponent is drawing to one or two cards or you are drawing to many, the difference in odds don't make a huge difference, but rather the sequence of how the hand is played. It is just as much about what you are representing in most hands to what you are holding, especially in mid rounds of tournaments. You should try to get called down if you want to, and try not to if you aren't looking for one. Mathematics comes in to play allot with bet sizing, more than it does the chance that your opponent is holding AA when you have KK, which seems to happen more often than it should online. Also, if your game is unorthodox like it should be as far as opening hands, you can make your opponents reads harder to make for them.

