I discuss Expected Value, Pot Equity and utilizing the REDI process for making +EV decisions.
In episode 142, I discussed my first WSOP cash in this year’s Colossus III. I also gained some important LIVE MTT insights which I shared with you all.
REDI System for Thinking Through a Hand (1:50)
I learned this from Mark Warner over at www.ExceptionalPoker.com, who I did the Poker Mathematics Webinar with last month. (click here for $5 off the webinar)
REDI is an acronym for Read, Evaluate, Decide and Implement, R.E.D.I.
This is a systematic approach that you should take with you into every hand of poker you play as well as every hand you analyze. Using this approach helps you to make the most profitable decisions possible and keeps you focused on the most important aspects of the hand.
- Read – This is where gather all the information you know about the situation you’re in. Table, game and opponent information along with ranges and lines taken.
- Evaluate – This is where the math comes into play. Outs & odds, SPR and pot commitment, equities of our hand vs the villain’s range and Expected Value of our potential plays.
- Decide – Choose the most + Expected Value line (more on EV below)
- Implement – Execute your line in a manner that deceives and confuses villains
Expected Value (4:25)
Expected Value is the most important mathematical concept in poker. Every decision we make falls along a profitability line. If a play is +EV, then we can expect to make money with this play in the long run (regardless of the actual results we experience from just one instance of the play). If it’s -EV, then we can expect to lose money with the play in the long run, and if it’s neutral EV (0EV) then we don’t win or lose any money with this play.
I try to play with a +EV Mindset. This is the first step to acting with purpose with every hand dealt. You must answer this question with every play you consider, “What’s the EV of ___(play)___?” If the answer is -EV, then don’t make the play. If it’s +EV, you MUST make the play. This is the first step in controlling your poker destiny; it’s controlling your decisions and choosing to take the most +EV lines.
We know in poker you can’t control the cards and you can’t control your opp’s. The only things we can control are the decisions we make.
“Winning poker is entirely about making +EV Decisions over and over—and not worrying about individual Results.” -Mark Warner
3 Key Points
There are 3 Key Points that Mark discussed during the webinar the secret to winning poker:
- If you make +EV decisions, you win—regardless of the actual results of a hand!
- Quick Example: I flopped a set of 22 vs AK on a 23Jr board. The only way I could lose is if the turn and river came runner-runner to give my opponent an Ace high straight or the wheel. He donk led and I made a tiny raise hoping for a call with an overpair. Well, my opponent did one better by shoving an additional 40bb’s on the flop. Of course, I called with the near nuts. The opponent was only about 3% to win, so I got it in with the best hand. It went runner-runner and I was beat by a wheel, but that’s okay. I got it in as a 97% favorite.
- Bad beats are good things! By definition, you’ve made a +EV decision, and your opponent didn’t. Welcome and embrace this!
- Like that prior hand, my opponent got it in with just two overs and 2 bdsd’s vs my set. Bad move by them which worked out, but that’s just this one time.
- The key to winning at poker is entirely about making (and executing) +EV Decisions, period.
- Give me this opportunity over and over, and you’ll see me at the nosebleeds in no time.
The EV Formula
EV = (% Win x $ Win) – (% Lose x $ Lose)
Calculating EV with a common situation:
Cash game, and we’re in the SB with 72o (terrible hand). Our opponent opens to 3bb’s from the CO. We’re considering a 3bet bluff to 9bb’s. We have a lot of history with our opponent and we believe they’ll fold to our 3bet 80% of the time. 72o is just about as bad a bluffing hand as you can have, so we’ll assume that if we get called we’re losing the hand.
Fill out the formula with the relevant numbers:
- % of the time we Win is 80%
- The Amount we’re trying to win is 4.5bb’s (the CO’s bet + the blinds)
- % of the time we Lose is 20%
- The Amount we would Lose by 3betting is 8.5bb’s (remember we’re in the SB and we’re making it a total of 9bb’s)
- Plugging these numbers into our formula gives us:
- EV = (.80 x 4.5bb) – (.20 x 8.5bb)
- EV = +1.9bb
- Great! Our 3bet bluff here wins almost 2bb’s on average. We should make this play at every opportunity until our opponent wises up and starts folding less often
You can run every poker decision through the lens of EV, and if it’s a mathematically + play, then it needs to be made.
It Adds Up Over Time
What if it’s close to 0EV? Like only +.25bb?
It doesn’t sound like much, but even small wins like that add up over time.
We can look at a common spot; a pre-flop steal from the CO. Depending on your opp’s in the blinds and the BTN, this play on average might be +.25bb’s. If you make it only once, anything can happen.
But, knowing that in the long run this play is +.25bb’s, if you can make it 1,000 times in your poker life, it’s worth 250bb’s. What if you can make it 10,000 times? It’s worth 2,500bb’s. And if it’s so common that you can make it 100,000 times (like the CO open steal), it’s worth a whopping 25,000 bb’s. And at 100NL that’s $25,000.
A tiny +EV decision doesn’t seem like much one at a time, but if you find these opportunities and make these +EV plays over and over in your poker career, you stand to make beau-coop bucks.
Pot Equity (15:00)
Pot Equity is how often you can expect to win the pot at any one moment in time. (technically, it’s our share of the pot) It’s like AA vs KK pre-flop; AA is an 82% favorite vs the KK. This means that 82% of the time, the AA will win without taking into account any board cards. But, we all know that this can change on the turn of a card. For example, on a flop of K92, that 82% pot equity the AA had pre-flop, it suddenly drops to only 9% when the KK hits their set.
PE is related to EV. We can take our EV formula and make a slight change to it. The % Win can be expressed as our PE. And the % Lose as (100% – PE).
- EV = (PE x $ Win) – ((100%-PE) x $ Lose))
We can fill in this formula with my set of 2’s example from earlier. Remember, we had 22 on 23Jr and our opponent had only AK for two overs and 2 bdsd’s.
On the flop and using Flopzilla:
- Our PE was a whopping 96.8%
- The Amount we were gunning for by calling the shove was $16.97 in the pot
- % of the time we Lose is a measly 3.2% (just 100% minus our 96.8% PE)
- The Amount we would Lose by calling was only $8.74
- So, if we plug these numbers into our formula, it looks like this:
- EV = (.968 x $16.97) – (.032 x $8.74)
- EV = +$16.15
- In bb’s, it’s a +64bb EV play
Here’s my challenge to you for this episode: Get into a +EV Mindset. Think about each decision before you make it:
- Checking or betting
- Folding, calling or raising
- Bet sizing you use
Your goal is to choose the play that is most +EV. Consider the ranges involved, your specific cards, board interaction, player types and your own image before you choose your most +EV course of action.
Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.
The NUTTS (Notably Urgent Things To Study 19:20)
To continue your studies into +EV decision making, here’s something you MUST check out.
- “Get Your Mind Right” free course from Dr. Tricia Cardner
- Find it at peakpokermindset.com
- It includes a mindset toolkit which has a free workbook, two mp3s, and a list of suggested apps, tips, & resources to help you build a peak performance mindset.