The role of EV in understanding modern poker


What is EV and what is it eaten with? Sooner or later, a similar question will be asked by any inexperienced poker player who, meanwhile, wants to improve and reach certain heights. And we are ready to help with this. 

What is EV in poker?

So, literally, EV is an abbreviation for English “expected value", Which translates as" expected benefit. " In other words, EV is the expected benefit from decisions made in poker. If this indicator is positive, the player at the distance will also be in the black. But users who often work with negative expectation often go into debt.

Application of EV

Now let's add some specifics. Let's say you have a monster in your hand, a pocket pair of aces, and you are lucky enough to put up against a pocket pair of kings. The calculator estimates your chances of success as 82.4%, which for simplicity of calculations is usually taken as 4 to 1. That is, out of 50 such hands you will win 40 and lose 10. And if you bet only $1 on the result each time, then at the end experiment you get in your pocket $30. We divide the profit into distributions and it turns out that the material expectation of each individual case is ¢ 60. This will be your EV.

Distance and EV in Poker

But we continue our experiment further. In the very first hand, the opponent caught a flush to his king, he got a set twice, and in the fourth case the dealer laid out all 5 diamonds on the table, even though none of you had this suit in your hands. 7 to 1, an incredible ratio for these cards, but theoretically such a case could very well happen. So is poker math a farce? By no means

If it is easy to believe in the described situation, then it is almost impossible that it will repeat itself at least 3 times. And the fact that aces will lose 7-8 times in a row? And then another unshakable truth emerges.

Anything can happen in every single hand. Poker math only works at a distance. And the longer this distance is, the closer the expected benefit is to the real winnings.

How to play with EV knowledge correctly?

But how will the received truths be useful to us in a practical game? An impatient reader asks. And we will immediately give the answer. 

Knowing how the laws work, the player at least has the basis for making the right decisions and should not panic, even if his best hand is moved several times in a row. This also happens for an experienced regular, such "failures" are routine unworthy of attention. During the analysis, he will only worry if his EV chart crawls down. In this case, the actual result will be of secondary importance. Here is the second unshakable truth for you. 

The professional gambler does not aim to win every pot. His task is to make profitable decisions, and the winnings will come by themselves. yourself.

Examples of calculating EV in poker games

And now, as a consolidation, a few simple examples from practice.

Example 1

Let's say the bank is equal to two dollars. The hero in the small blind has a flush draw on the flop, and therefore makes the standard half pot, leaving four dollars in his hands. But he runs into a three-dollar raise.

There are exactly 3 options for the development of events: call, fold or all-in. At the same time, refusing to fight always has zero EV. And if before that you made only profitable decisions, then the correct fold will in no way spoil your statistics. But let's simulate the situation after a possible call.

The turn can present the missing card, and your opponent reads the situation and does not pay the flush. Or, the suit will not reach and you yourself will have to answer with the remaining pot to your opponent's bet. That is, continuing the game, you will exhibit in any case, but give room for maneuver and you have every chance of not earning $2. Therefore, we filter out this option as unsuitable. And go straight to the all-bank.

Here we immediately have the probability of folding to 30% (the call has no such chances by default) and the chances of buying the necessary 35% card. All together will give EV + $1.94, which is more than zero, and therefore the hero went all-in. 

As a result, the opponent believed in his top pair, and the right suit did not come either on the turn or on the river. And nevertheless, if the situation repeats, the competent player will again go for broke and will receive two dollars at a distance from each such decision. Now you know what EV is and how it affects your income.