What is EV in poker?
Expected value (EV) is a way for poker players to measure the profitability of their decisions. Every decision you make at the poker tables has a certain amount of positive or negative EV.
Instead of being results-oriented, meaning focused on the outcome of the hand, you should know how profitable each action is. Expected value will show you how optimal your choices are, regardless of the final result of the hand.
+EV means that the move was profitable in the long term.
-EV means that the move will theoretically lose you money in the long term.
Why Do Poker Players Use EV?
Expected value is your way to see the long-term results of your actions. If you enter a poker tournament, you might play perfectly in terms of EV, but still lose the event. It’s not about the short-term results of one MTT or cash game session – EV can check each decision for profitability.
Variance is a frustrating, but necessary, part of poker. Variance is the unknown factor that makes poker exciting, but it also works against us at times. We can’t control or predict variance, but we can control our EV with enough practice.
Experienced poker players strive to make the most profitable (+EV) decisions, which should give them the best win rate over a longer period.
Freeroll poker tournaments are definitely +EV because you can’t actually lose money by playing in the event. There’s the potential to win cash prizes and tournament tickets from the freerolls though.
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How to Calculate Expected Value (EV) in Poker
Do you know how to calculate EV poker results?
There are programs you can use to measure your EV, but let’s talk about the arithmetic behind EV. You can try this for yourself with any basic calculator.
Expected Value = [Probability of winning * What you expect to win] + [Probability of losing * What you expect to lose]
A simpler way to write the equation is:
EV = [%W x $W] – [%L x $L]
- The probability of winning/losing is displayed as a decimal. (example: 35% = 0.35)
Let’s imagine you are playing in a Texas Holdem cash game. You have the highest straight from 10 to Ace and there is no possibility of a better hand. With the nuts, you are thinking about the size of your river bet.
The pot size is $100.
If you bet $100, you may get called 20% of the time.
EV = [0.20 * $100] – [0.80 * $0] = $20 – $0 = $20
If you bet $40, you may get called 50% of the time.
EV = [0.50 * $40] – [0.50 * $0] = $20 – $0 = $20
If you bet $10, you may get called 90% of the time.
EV = [0.90 * $10] – [0.10 * $0] = $9 – $0 = $9
This example is simplified because you hold the nuts, therefore, your losing amount is $0. The winning and losing probability must always equal 1.00.
Take This Quick EV Test
Using the calculation from the last section, it’s time to see the EV of real poker situations.
The EV of Set Mining
Everyone at the table has a stack of $100 to start the hand. You have 9♥ 9♣ and you expect to win your opponent’s full stack if you hit your set on the flop. The chance of flopping a set is roughly 12% and the cost to see the flop will be $5.
Is it +EV or -EV to pay $5 to see the flop?
The probability of winning (flopping a set) =
Expected winnings =
The probability of losing (not flopping a set) =
Expected loss to see the flop =
EV = [0.12 x $100] – [0.88 x $5]
$12 – $4.4 = +EV $7.6
If you can spend a little time estimating the probability of winning or your expected winnings, you can calculate EV.
You won’t always be in poker scenarios where the EV is easy to calculate. The best way to get familiar with using EV is by training with a program or running calculations on your own.
How Can You Improve Your EV in Poker?
You won’t be able to punch the numbers into a calculator at the poker table, but you can still use EV to make more profit.
Using certain poker tools, you can get familiar with certain matchups and quickly estimate the EV of your decisions. For example, there will be simple scenarios where you will go all-in or fold. If you experiment with different hand matchups and self-study with the tools, you can use EV in real-time.
A program like ICMIZER is a useful tool for tournament poker players. You can test yourself on the profitability and EV of pushing or folding different hands. It’s vital to know which hands are +EV to shove in the late stages of poker tournaments, especially if the final table is within reach.
The ICMIZER MTT coach will quiz you and give instant feedback on your choices. As you run more and more tests, the program will adapt the quizzes to your skill level. That way, less time is wasted covering scenarios you are familiar with.
We can get your free trial of ICMIZER started in the GipsyTeam Shop.