Mathematically speaking, if you make the right bet (call) every time the outs and pot odds are in your favour and fold when they're not, shouldn't you have about 95% chance of making profit in the long run (over thousands of hands) - factoring in poker tells etc. and only going 'all in' when you have a high four of a kind or straight flush?

And should you carry on betting even if it's mathematically illogical based on psychological factors such as tells and non-verbal tells?

Most of my other questions get down voted or put on hold for being vague or silly but this is a genuine question and I hope I haven't done anything wrong, thanks in advance!

  • You're right, you will get a profit over time. What you described here is: making decisions that are +EV (estimated value). Look it up ;) Commented Jun 15, 2014 at 14:34
  • but wouldn't that mean that mathematically you'd fold every time they went well in or at least over 60% of your chips.
    – lucid-S
    Commented Jun 15, 2014 at 16:18
  • 1
    I get lost at 'everyone the outs' when trying to read your question. Can you edit it?
    – WW.
    Commented Jun 15, 2014 at 21:57
  • sure, seems I was supposed to write 'every time' hope that helps
    – lucid-S
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 5:51

3 Answers 3


IMHO, even if you manage to calculate your odds perfectly well, in every hand, if you are sit in a 9 players table, you'd win the pot 1/9 time (in a purely probabilistic way). Now, just try to imagine if your hands are weak before the flop (or turn/river) and someone, for any reason, breaks the odd every hand you play, because he saw you were playing that way.

Let's take an example : A 10o. Flop : K J 5. Maybe in the end, you'd have won, but it's not gonna happen because you fold your hand pre-turn against someone breaking your odds, even if you know this vilain has been going all-in every hand you play since 5 hands. It is really simplified, but the point is that in Poker, you can't only play following maths. In a perfect world, where everyone would play in a "classical" way, YES it could be possible to follow only maths.

But in every game, you have to adapt yourself to the players in front of you (online or not), some will play aggressively, some protectively. Implicitly, it will change the EV for you, but I'm not sure that maths describe this well... If some of you know anything on this, please answer as a comment I'm curious :)


This is overly simplistic. Let me divide my answer into two parts:

Pot odds

While figuring out the odds the pot lays you on the river is one thing, estimating implicit pot odds on earlier streets if much harder to do. So the odds are "right" on the flop. But what when you miss your card on the turn? Will your opponent charge you dearly to see the river, or are they prone to back down after getting called once?

When you make your hand

So you made your straight. This is not by any chance an automatic win. Sometimes you lose after making your hand. And chances are, it will cost you quite a bit, now that you're happy with your holding. How do you gauge these parameters?

  • Well now do you do those things then?
    – lucid-S
    Commented Jun 15, 2014 at 15:54
  • 1
    I'm not sure I understand. Commented Jun 15, 2014 at 15:56
  • you told me that estimating implicit odds on earlier streets is hard so can you explain how you'd do this
    – lucid-S
    Commented Jun 15, 2014 at 17:57
  • @lucid-S Sounds like a good question for its own thread.
    – Toby Booth
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 0:01

If you get your money in or get out of the hand at the right time and odds are in your favor, you will 100% sure make money. And indeed, you should carry on betting even though it's against your odds. This is why poker is such a nice game. You can play against math and use psychology to win. If you have absolutely nothing, but you feel you can bluff your opponent at the river, that is exactly what you describe. Obviously, I don't take the money that dealers and online rooms take into account. In my opinion people think too much in poker. Either you "have it" or you don't. An example of this is Patrik Antonius. He never read a single book or had any lessons. He play by feeling. He "has it"!

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