Easy Math in Poker ; Bluffers Might Be Maniacs ; No Gambling Ban in Fed Spending Bill

poker math
Easy math can lead to strong poker play
by Irene Edith
As I play low-limit Texas hold’em in local casinos, it seems few, if any, of my opponents use the poker odds.

There are two parts: the card odds and the pot odds. That gives me a huge edge over these opponents. A quick estimate of the poker odds is a vital requirement, essential to winners.

Figuring the card odds takes a little math. It is the odds against making your drawing hand, based on the number of outs – cards that will complete your hand, presumably to make you the winner.

Compare this with the pot odds. These are simply the amount of chips already in the pot (including all bets up to you), divided by your cost to call (the last bet).

I recommend the 4-2 Rule to estimate your card odds. After the flop, count your outs – the cards that will make your hand. If you plan to stay in to see both the Turn and River, multiply the number of your outs by 4. If you expect to see only the next card to be dealt on the board, then multiply by 2. I’ll give you an example in case it is not perfectly clear. There should be no excuse for not making the estimate.

The basic rule

Simply stated, the pot odds must be higher than the card odds. That gives you a Positive Expectation (PE), meaning probability favors you over the long haul. You will be a winner. Skilled players use this concept when holding a drawing hand, especially after the flop. That helps them go home winners most of the time.

An example is being dealt J-10 suited in a late position, in a $4-$8 limit game. Three opponents call; there are no raises. The flop comes down: 9-Q-2 rainbow. None match your suit; but, you now have four-to-a-straight, open at both ends. That’s a good flop for you; you have 8 outs – four 8s and four kings.
Planning to see this hand through to the River, multiply your 8 outs by 4 = 32%. That’s the approximate probabilty you will connect. Then, the probability you will miss is simply 100% – 32% = 68%. That makes your card odds about 2-to-1 against.

Now, let’s estimate the pot odds for this hand: After the betting on the flop, there are about 24 chips in the pot. An Early-Position makes the $8 bet on the Turn, so there are 32 chips in all. You must call this $8 bet to see the next card. That’s pot odds of 32/8 = 4-to-1.

The pot odds are much higher than your card odds. That gives you a Positive Expectation (PE) – so you unhesitatingly call the bet to see the River.

Implied Odds

If the pot odds don’t quite exceed the card odds, you can use the “implied pot odds” instead. Include all the chips in the pot plus those opponents likely will add after you declare; then, divide that by the $8 bet you are about to call.

You’ll have to admit that was an easy math calulation, especially since estimates are good enough. So, I ask you, why don’t more players use the Poker Odds and make sure they get a PE?
Why don’t more players use the Poker Odds? There are only two possible excuses:

• They never before were aware of the concept. Perhaps this column is the first time they have read about it.

• They know about it, but it seems like too much trouble to go through “all that math.”

Perhaps I have convinced you of the great benefit available, and how easy it is to do the minimal math to estimate.
We invite your comments. Email to IreneEdith@GamingToday.com.


poker maniac

Bluffers tend to be maniacs
by George Epstein
Jacks could isolate a lunaticThere are many reasons for bluffing. The predominant motivation is to force your opponent to muck his hand, leaving the pot for you.

A maniac arrives

You can’t help but notice when a new player comes to your middle-limit hold’em table and proceeds to bet and raise almost every hand! I quickly realized he was a “maniac;” and maniacs do a lot of bluffing.

At first, he won many more than his share of the pots, as the players feared him, tending to fold more than normal. After a while, some of the others – and I – started calling him more often. I played strictly according to the Hold’em Algorithm. And, his stacks dwindled – and dwindled. It wasn’t long before he bought another rack of chips.

Then, he changed his seat at the table, moving two seats to my left. I didn’t like that at all; now, I would usually have to declare before him. Also, it seemed he had become somewhat less aggressive but he still played almost every hand and raised very often.

Beating the Bluffer

Strongly convinced that he sought every opportunity and was inclined to bluff, I looked for the right time to pounce on him. The situation had to be just right. Meanwhile, patience! Then, it happened – or so I thought.

On the blind, I was dealt A-hearts, J-hearts, a premium starting-hand, including a draw to a royal flush. As expected, Maniac raised. Three others and I called. The flop came down with two more beautiful hearts. Now, I had four to the nut flush! I decided not to bet into Maniac so his expected raise would not chase out the other players. If I made my flush, I would then build the pot by check-raising or trapping when the bets were doubled.

The Turn was the Jack of clubs. Unfortunately, it did not contribute to my flush; but it did give me top pair on the board.

My J-J may well have been the best hand at that point. Also, just in case an opponent had a higher pair (not likely, the way the betting had gone), I had two more outs to make trip-Jacks in addition to my nine outs for the big flush.

I might also count the three outs for a pair of Aces, which could yield top two-pair. I decided to bet out, hoping to thin the field and thus protect my J-J, and perhaps isolate Maniac. I was sure he would raise, and others would fold to a double big bet. And so it was on the Turn. Just the two of us: Maniac, who often bluffed, and me.

Tigers don’t change stripes: On the Turn, I made the opening bet, expecting Maniac to raise me, as he did. Almost certain he was trying to bluff me out, I decided to just call his raise, and wait for the River.

Oh, no…the River card was a bright, blazing King of spades! I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Now what? I could not even guess if he had another King in the hole. I pondered about it. I couldn’t even estimate the odds one way or the other. I looked at him; his hand was full of chips – ready to bet or raise.

He leaned forward in his seat, suggesting a strong hand. I had to check to him; and, of course, he made the bet. Certainly, I had to call – and hope my pair of Jacks was good enough. Fortunately, he didn’t disappoint me; he was indeed bluffing – although he did catch a pair of 7s on the flop.

P.S. One of the other players whispered to me that he had folded a King on the Turn. Lucky me!
“The Engineer,” a noted author and teacher in Greater Los Angeles, is a member of the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame. Contact George at GeorgeEpstein@GamingToday.com.


no gambling funny

No Online Gambling Ban In Federal Spending Bill

Again, No Federal Action On Real-Money Online Gaming
by Brian Pempus
The speculation that Nevada Sen. Harry Reid would get an online gambling ban into the omnibus spending bill is over, as such provisions aren’t in the measure, reported the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The Huffington Post caused a stir last week after speculating that Reid might be willing to cater to billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s demands to ban online gambling, including web poker, nationwide. Adelson’s Las Vegas casino business does offer mobile sports betting, which is gambling over the Internet, though, ironically, not considered online gambling in the traditional sense by most.

Adelson has argued that online betting, in the form that his competitors want it to exist, would hurt the brick-and-mortar casino industry in the United States. Though, there isn’t any evidence for the claim.

Nevada has a two-site online poker industry as well.

From the report:

The $1.1 trillion [federal] measure would fund most government operations through September of next year, making it a must-pass measure. It also contains dozens of individual policy provisions sought by lawmakers and special interests.

Fortunately for poker players holding out hope for their state to eventually authorize state-licensed Internet poker sites, a web poker ban wasn’t one of the provisions.

The odds of banning online gambling nationwide have never actually been good, despite sensationalist and misleading media reports claiming otherwise. In addition to Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware have real-money online gambling, and California is looking to authorize it next year. To discontinue the industries already running would be almost inconceivable.

Perhaps Adelson’s only intention is to slow its spread in the U.S.

“We believe that banning Internet gaming is bad public policy from our perspective,” Caesars Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Jan Jones Blackhurst told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We’re pleased this issue will be discussed openly and not hidden in some omnibus bill.”

Caesars is the owner of Nevada’s top poker site, WSOP.com.

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