Playing online poker can be challenging due to technical aspects such as Implied Odds or Expected Value (EV). It’s not just about dealing with cards like J9 suited in Middle Position and facing a raise, but also making decisions post-flop when you’ve invested into the pot with a decent hand.

This article serves as an introduction to EV, a crucial concept for maintaining a healthy bankroll. In essence, EV should always factor into your decision-making process.

What is EV?

Expected Value indicates whether a play will result in profit or loss over time. A +EV play is expected to be profitable in the long run, while a -EV play is likely to lose money. The Expected Value of a particular action in poker is the average amount of money a player expects to win or lose by taking that action, calculated over all possible outcomes. To compute the EV, multiply the probability of each possible outcome by the amount you’d win or lose in that outcome, then sum these products up.

The goal in poker is long-term profit, which means consistently executing optimal plays. For this, we need to identify which plays offer the most chance of success, that’s where EV comes in.

If you’ve been playing Cash Games or Tournaments without considering EV, this article aims to highlight its significance. Understanding EV elevates your game to a new level.

It’s vital to understand why EV is considered in the long-term context. If you’re dealt a pair aiming to make a set, what does this have to do with future games? The answer lies in the consistency of optimal play. If you keep reproducing these justified lines each time you’re dealt a pair, over time this +EV play will yield profit. Conversely, paying too much for the chance to see your pair turn into a triplet leads to a consistent ‘negative’ EV error resulting in loss. Over time, a +EV set-mining strategy will yield profit as the total payout from successful attempts outweighs the cumulative cost of unsuccessful ones.

Apply this concept to all possible lines of play. By maximizing EV and avoiding high-cost, low-odds (-EV) plays, you’ll ultimately profit. Instead of playing each hand haphazardly, sticking to a prudent EV-based game-plan allows you to play confidently. Even when cards don’t fall your way, you’re still playing the game correctly. This approach also helps manage emotional reactions to setbacks – they can be seen as statistical facts that will even out over time, leaving you to reap the rewards of optimal EV play.

Understanding the importance of Expected Value in poker is crucial. The next step is learning how to make the right calculations. Stay tuned for an article that delves into the numbers…

Author: AngusD
last updated 19.09.2023