Poker Math Book Interview

Poker Math can be a daunting prospect. Besides the basic pot odds, we have Poker probabilty, combinatorics, implied odds and of course EV calculations. The sheer complexity of it all has hindered many a player’s progress and remains to do so despite the breadth of information out there. Luckily, the team at thepokercapitalist have found a solution: Expected Value Calculations – The book, the author, the Interview.

You may have noticed a ‘poker reference book’ section on our resources page. You may also have noticed an alarmingly cheap ebook for sale on there too. Well, we got hold of the author and demanded he tell us what it’s all about…

John “Jimmy Chances” Sutcliffe is 35 year old small-mid stakes Pro Poker Player and coach for outstandingpoker.com. He’s British born, now residing in Bulgaria and has been playing for 8 years, 4 as a pro. He’s lately written a book: Expected Value Calculations – a guide for the ‘need to know’ math in poker.

Cinch: Congrats’ on the book release John, was a math book tough to write?

John: It was only tough If I decided to try writing after an 8-10 hour grinding session! haha.

Cinch: What sets it apart from other math books around?

John: I’ve read a few poker math books and learnt a lot from watching videos on drag the bar. And I had also produced some myself for outstandingpoker.com. At first i had things like the EV of calling a river bet written down in one notebook and then other formulas in other notebooks. I kept losing notes and having to relearn so I decided to get all the poker math that I had a solid understanding of in one place. So I decided to write this just for me at first, so I had something to refer to all the time. I created the spreadsheet  to go alongside the reference book so that the calculations can be done easier and quicker. I let a few fellow poker players check it out, got some positive feedback and then decided it would be good to try get it out there for other poker players to use or learn from. Most poker maths books on the market are 200+pages long with a lot of filler material in there. This book cuts the crap and gets straight into the nitty gritty of the math. It also has a genuine flow to it where it deals with preflop math and then moves onto postflop math afterwards. I believe it can be a good learning tool for beginning and more intermediate players to become more efficient with their poker analysis if they use the spreadsheet with the poker math formulae provided.

Cinch: What areas would you consider the main areas of poker math?

John: Obviously with poker math we need to know about probabilities, odds and outs. There’s already a ton of books out there that deal with that, so decided to leave that out of this book.

Most of the math in the book that you need to know deals with situations where we are either bluffing or calling, preflop or postflop. If we’re just value betting then all we need to do to see if we have a profitable value bet. We then analyse the strength of our hand and make an estimation on whether our opponent has more or worse combinations of hands in his calling range than better ones. We can approximate at the table and then use software like pokerstove away from the table to make a more accurate estimation. If we believe he has just one combination more of worse hands we have a profitable value bet. There is still some math behind the EV of the value bet which is included in the book, but the situations I have mainly looked at are the bluffing or calling situations.

Cinch: What’s the best way to get maximum use from the book?

John: A lot of people seem to be a bit scared of math and might be a bit overfaced if they just dived into the book. I will use the book myself by picking a situation I want to analyse. e.g. Let’s say I have semi bluff shoved the turn 3 times and each time been snapped off with a hand I expected my opponent to fold. I will reference the ‘semi-bluff shoving the turn’ chapter to see If I’m picking profitable spots. If you’re using the book for the first time I would go through the formula slowly, bit by bit with pen and paper while using the spreadsheet alongside it. The first attempt might take some time but it won’t take long for anyone with basic math knowledge to get a lot out of the book. It might be worth reading the early Combinatorics chapter if a player isn’t familiar with hand combinations. Also having a poker equity software such as pokerstove, flopzilla or combonator will be helpful as well.

Cinch: Why so cheap?

John:  Well, it’s only about 30 pages long but It’s full of useful math that can be used over and over again. I’m not interested in making a ton of money from the book, I just hope that it can help some players get a better grasp of the poker math as I think it can be rewarding when you get a light bulb moment and all of a sudden something that seemed complicated at first seems easier to understand. I’m hoping this helps some poker players who are scared of the math to enjoy it more. And even if there’s some players who just can’t enjoy math, this book should at least help them become more poker math efficient.

Cinch: What would be your advise be for someone starting out with poker math?

John: If you’re trying to learn basic math or even some of the more complicated poker math don’t be so dismayed if you don’t understand it straight away. Read through an example a couple of times then if you’re not getting it straight away come back to it later. In the book I’ve tried to explain the equations and formulae by breaking them down so they can be understood in a step by step kind of way, but a bit of patience may still be required.

Cinch: Thanks for your time today John and good luck with the book.

John: Cheers Cinch.

You can buy EV calculations for only $4.99 from our resources page and don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter for latest tips, news and views!

Interview by Cinch.

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