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Math: The “necessary evil” of good poker. Knowing it, and being able to do it quickly and correctly, is a skill every player needs in their toolbox. For most people, however, overuse of math can make the game feel less fun, less spontaneous, and less unpredictable. It can remove the joy from a game that, in most cases, is being played as a form of entertainment for the participants, which is why I rarely mention “the math” when I’m writing a lesson here at Elite Poker.
Its importance, however, cannot be totally ignored.
So, in the interest of keeping the discussion light, I’m going to shy away from presenting this “poker math” in prose form. Instead, I’ve compiled a few tables and charts I believe communicate important ideas that can help you become a better player.
Don’t be intimidated (or bored): Memorization of every little thing you see here is not important (though it wouldn’t hurt). What is important is that you try to digest what each of these charts mean and what, if anything, is being communicated that alerts you to holes in your game.
Are you overvaluing suited cards, or pocket pairs, before the flop?
Are you unsure of when to feel okay about “chasing” a straight or flush draw?
Do you have no idea when you’re supposed to start shoving preflop in a tournament so you can boost your short stack?
Let’s find out:
Before the flop
After the flop, chances of making certain hands on the turn or on the river
After the flop, chances of making a backdoor draw (getting cards you need on the turn AND on the river)
When you’re in a tournament and are starting to get short stacked, it is almost always correct to consider only two preflop actions: Pushing or folding.
Here is an insanely-detailed chart telling you when you should be pushing, based on how many BB you have left and what position you’re sitting in.
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