Poker can easily be classified as the game of luck since, hey, having the best cards often relies on the luck of the draw. But, those players who rely solely on luck to win some money in poker will find themselves in the shortage of funds pretty soon since there are many other factors to consider when planning your strategy and playing the game. One of the most important aspects is of course, the Expected Value, a term coined to reflect upon the progressive or long term successfulness (or continuous failure) a player might have in his career. This short article is here to explain why EV is so important for players (both starters and veterans) and how to use it to your advantage.
Why EV is Important
When starting to play a game of poker, the outcome of it can be classified as either positive (you gain money) or negative (you lose money). EV is the calculated probability in both instances (positive or +EV means you will be winning your bets in the long term, while negative or –EV points to a failure rate as the game progresses).
The definition of Expected Value is derived from probability theory and we aren’t really going all out and explain how the two correlate, but we will simply say that “the EV is the sum of cash that could be won or lost on average on the bet placed.” This is applicable in all bet games like casino, poker and even Live SGP.
Brief Examples Explaining EV
The coin flip example easily explains the EV in action – the bet is that between two possible outcomes (heads or tails) one player will be paid $5 if the coin lands on heads, or will in turn have to pay $5 to the other player if it lands on tails. This hypothetically would mean that half the time one player will win the coin flip and the other, the rest. This is a draw that yields nor profit or losses. However, if the coin flip awards you $10 instead of $5, while still paying $5 to the other player, then you have a positive EV of $2.5.
As the example suggests, it is all about managing your expectations. You should always look for bets that will yield in a positive expectation rather risk and lose on those that show a negative expectation.
Apply the Knowledge of EV in Your Next Poker Game
Enough mathematics and expectations – it is all about applying this EV knowledge to your everyday poker routines. It is all tied together actually – whenever you will be calling, raising, bluffing, all these actions should be based on a positive Expected Value. Doing the calculations mid-game can be very challenging (since they usually involve way more numbers, combinations and of course, luck) but if you can apply a post-game thinking (i.e. review what could have yielded you a better outcome) then with time, you can apply that same thinking while playing.