Expected Value in poker explained.

mrpdg By mrpdg, 29th Jan 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/nk8pjqyn/
Posted in Wikinut>Gambling>Poker>Poker Strategies

Have you heard expected value in poker? are you wondering what EV is?

Expected Value in poker explained.

Let’s be honest most of us at least at first play poker without ever bothering to read up and it’s only when we lose do we start to realise that we need to learn more in depth about the game. If you have found this article it’s because you have heard of Expected Value or EV and are wondering what it is. It’s all very mathematical but don’t panic I’ll explain.
To calculate expected value we must take every possible outcome then multiply each by the probability of that outcome happening. Our answer is given by then adding those numbers together. This gives your EV an actual number.
You probably make your own rough EV calculations in your head every time you play poker even if you have never read up on the subject. Have you ever limped with a medium pair when with lots of callers and hoped you would hit a set and steal a big pot? Of course you have, we all have. This is because you made your own calculation that it was worth it based on the expected value.

for similar strategy articles for improving your game in poker please visit the link.

Why do I need to know this?

So if I already use it why do I need to understand it?

Understanding expected value properly means that you are understanding the basis of the vast majority of poker strategies. In other words getting this out the way helps you understand why other strategies should work over long periods of time and play.

You need to understand that even though the expect value may force you to make a decision that is in some cases a negative one, over the course of time it will pay off.

The example

Time for an example.
It’s heads up and the play has gone to the river.
A♥ J♣
The board looks like this:
A♣ 10♣ 5♦ 8♣ 3♣

You’re the first to act with the pot at $100 and the big bet is $10. Should you bet?

Lets say your opponent seems to be quite tight and he could hold any two cards and would fold if a club hit. But he’s not shy to call if he has something and if he’s got a club hes going to call and he’ll call big if he has the K♣ or Q♣. If you check he is going to bet with any club and check if he has no clubs.

Time for the maths. He can obviously be holding any two cards and any of the clubs is equally likely to be in his hand.

Option 1: You make a bet!
If he calls its very likely to be with a weaker hand otherwise he would of re-raised with no more betting ahead holding such a high flush. Only 6 of the cards he would call with and the other 2 he would bet with. With this action it means you would win an extra $10 on six occasions. With 8 clubs available the chance of him calling is six out of eight.
$10 * 6/8 = $7.5

If he raises you need to fold as he’s going to have the better hand but the chances of this are much less.
-$10 * 2/8 = -$2.5

So with this course of action your expected value is $7.5 + (-)2.5 = $5. Which is ok.

Option 2: You decide to check but ready to call when he bets.

Same result as before if you call you will win 6 times out of 8.
$10 * 6/8 = $7.5
-$10 * 2/8 = -$2.5

Value remains $5. Both option 1 and option 2 provide the same result. Exactly.

So, what other options?

Option 3: You check/raise

If he has the K♣ he will re-raise and you will have to fold and lose $20:
-$20 * 1/8 = -$2.5

If he holds a queen hes going to call your raise and you will still lose $20.
-$20 * 1/8 = -$2.5

Most likely scenario is he has any other club and you will win $20:
$20 * 6/8 = $15.


Sum: $15 - $2.5 - $2.5 = $10.8.

This shows that it’s more profitable to check raise in this situation as it gives increased expected value.

Expected Value - The conclusiong

Be careful to analyse your play over and over. Something as simple as this over time adds up to thousands and can quite often be the difference between a long term winning player and a long term loser.


Be careful to analyse your play over and over. Something as simple as this over time adds up to thousands and can quite often be the difference between a long term winning player and a long term loser.

Be sure to check out my website for strategy via the link above or visit my bad beat poker blog


Ev In Poker, What Is Ev On Poker, What Is Expected Value In Poker, What Is Value In Poker

Meet the author

author avatar mrpdg
I have a few articles on ezine and squidoo and hubpages. I've also got a couple of websites and a blog on self improvement.

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
29th Jan 2011 (#)

I just know I expect to Win

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author avatar mrpdg
29th Jan 2011 (#)

haha, yeah I have that problem too Mark and unfortunately I'm generally wrong :(

You play a bit then?

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author avatar sourav chakravorty
25th Feb 2011 (#)

nice sir

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