Originally Posted by turtelliusshellius
I personally feel that poker math is extremely important to a grinder and relatively unimportant to a loose cannon. The reason I feel this way is because for a grinder to be successful he must be able to range another hand, calculate the EV of his own hand against that range, and play accordingly. This way he can have winnings that always exceed his losses. Grinders take their winnings a little at a time and consistently. Loose cannons are a whole different story. If a player is willing to play any two cards and attempt to outplay you then the math really makes no difference. Loose cannons need reading ability. They need to know your range by how you play hands and then be able to take advantage of those situations to create the situation they want (getting you to call with the worst of it and fold with the best of it basically). So it all depends on your personal style and strengths. If you are a winning player and have yet to learn the math then that tells me that you aren't a grinder. If you are a losing player then maybe you should learn some of the math and see how it affects your play. If you don't know whether you are a losing player or winning player, you are probably a losing player, and you need to learn the math and how to use a stats site. I hope this helps.


^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Excellent perspective above!
I think that having a good grasp on the math is crucial to being a winning player. You don't need to know it down to the exact % but you need to have a pretty good idea.
Grinders need math, "loose cannons" need reading ability and top players have both and constantly look for ways to improve both.
What makes Poker a better game than
Blackjack or craps or
Roulette? Well, essentially the fact that you get to choose WHEN to put your money in. You don't have to put your money in first and then wait to see what happens....you get part of the story, decide whether or not to continue and for how much. Skilled players will only put their money in when it is profitable to do so, that is why it is possible to consistently win at poker. To fully utilize this profitable feature at a poker table, you have to know how to calculate these things to know whether a certain action is a "good bet" or not.
The best way to learn the math, IMO is later, away from the table to analyze the hands you've played. Next time you bust out, or are waiting for a game to start plug in a few hands and see what each player's equity was at the time the money went in.
I don't think very many poker players are calculating their actual equity during the middle of a hand....but once they've analyzed a similar situation enough times they can quickly process that "ballpark" information in the back of their mind while simultaneously making other decisions and using other available info.
Example: I'm facing an all in holding 88 in my BB. I figure half the time he's got 2 overs and the other half of the time I'm facing an overpair. so what's my equity? ...at the table I'm thinking "my equity is roughly a third or 33% vs this player's range"
but how do I know that? Because countless times I've gone home and calculated something that looks like this:
50% of the time he has 2 overs and I'm 50% to win so that = 25% equity (50 x 0.5)
50% of the time he has an overpair and I'm 20% to win so that = 10% equity (50 x 0.20)
so my total equity in calling here is 35% (25% + 10%)
Since the pot is only laying me 1.5:1 this is not a profitable spot to call.
Eventually after analyzing enough hands and situations you'll have a good idea of ranges and how certain hands matchup in certain ranges. It is very useful info.
other important ways to use math:
figuring out the proper bet size to give bad odds to your opponent's drawing hands
deciding whether or not you have odds to chase your draw
figuring what the average stack will be when the bubble bursts
figuring what the average stack will be at the final table (then you know "I need to double up 2 more times before the final table" and help make your decisions easier.)
Knowing that roughly 2/3 of the time in a heads up pot, your opponent misses the flop...so if they bet the flop 70% of the time they are Cbetting A LOT
I think math becomes even more important whenever you play short handed.
It goes on and on....