Intermediate Poker Strategy – Benefit of Using Expected Value (+EV)
Expected value (EV) is a mathematical concept that can be extremely beneficial when applied in poker. It helps players determine the long-term impact of a certain strategy or play during the game. In poker, you can calculate the EV for a specific situation or only determine whether a play or strategy is positive or negative. When the EV is positive, the probability of making money in the long-term is high, and this is the opposite when the EV is negative.
Certain situations may show very high or even marginal positive or negative EVs. As this can play a crucial role in helping you determine whether a decision in the game is conducive for winning or not, it is important to use it. You can apply EV to any variant of poker – Texas Hold’em, Omaha Hi Lo, 7 Card Stud or Pot Limit Omaha. Here is an example of EV, to help understand expected value and how it works:
An example – how knowing expected value of a play can help:
Two cards from the same suit are at the flop, and if you have the tendency to play any type of suited card with it, you would be likely to chase the draw you make there, to the river. In terms of EV, this type of play will have a negative value -EV. This play can bring in an occasional win, but largely, it is bound to have negative outcomes in the long run. This means that the amount of money you put into the pot at each of the streets may largely be lost. Knowing this, makes it easier to discard or use the play.
Estimate the outs
The first step in using expected value strategically in poker is to estimate the outs. The outs are the unseen cards that can improve your hand such that your chances of winning are high – if you draw them. This is a key strategy that is used in poker. If you have a hand with three outs, it means that only two cards can improve your hand. For instance, you may have two clubs and two others may have landed on the flop. On using the concept of outs here, four cards are missing from thirteen.
This means that 9 cards from 47 unseen can show up to improve your hand. So, the odds for your outs are 47:9 or, 5.2:1. This means that each time you have the same hand, you are likely to lose five times and win one time. Here, you can apply EV to understand whether it will be beneficial for you or not. When the current odds of completing the hand and an estimated cost of calling it – $125 (when there is a return of $375 in case you win) are considered, the EV is 3:1.
Knowing Pot Odds
Here, it is important to know both, pot odds and odds to determine whether calling at this point in the game will be profitable or not in the long run. To know this, you will have to compare the odds. This means that 5.2:1 will be compared with 3:1. Next, the probability of losing (5.2 here) should be multiplied by the cost of calling. The EV for this is negative, this means that you should not use this game play in poker.
Should your hand turn a positive EV, +EV, then this would be a move worth taking.