There are many interpretations about what a very good poker player is supposed to be and be good at. One such misconception from many novices is that they need to be good bluffers, while another is that a good poker player is some sort of maths genius. Well, let me tell you something right here and now, I have encountered skilled and trained mathematicians in poker and few of them were really great players. This is because poker is more than just a numbers game.
Don’t get me wrong, someone who was incredibly good at maths like a mathematician would likely make a decent poker player and certainly wouldn’t make a poor one. However, there are just too many factors that are not covered by maths that go into the making of a very good poker player. Factors like discipline, focus, memory capacity, risk levels, ability to multi-table, psychology and being able to play poker at the best times are just a few non- maths based factors that are highly pertinent to being able to do well at online poker or poker in general.
Let’s put this another way; if success at poker was a purely maths based issue, then the best players in the world would all be mathematicians… but that’s not the case and rightly so because online poker offers far greater financial rewards than being a mathematician.
Because this is not the case, mathematics is obviously not as important as some people think it is. Once again don’t misunderstand me here, it is important to know pot odds, have a grasp of implied odds, fold equity, pot equity and hand ranges etc. but you do not need to be a maths wizard to become very proficient in these areas. It is easy to read some maths based poker book and feel out of your depth.
One of the keys to being a successful poker player is to balance many different areas of the game. You wouldn’t be a very good motorist if your only skill was to be able to reverse park better than anybody else would you? It is exactly the same in poker; if your only ability is to be good at maths then you are probably not going to make it as a successful poker player. This should be good news for any player that has read an article or bought a poker book that was heavily laden with mathematical formulae and equations.
I first turned pro in 2002 and have been either a full-time player or a part-time player ever since. I would assess my own mathematical ability as moderate and I too struggle to understand many of the equations that I read in books and in fact I just gloss over them. This has never prevented me from being able to make money playing poker. So, the bottom line is that you need a working knowledge of the numbers in poker and that is all. At the end of the day, you don’t need to be the most literate person in the world if knowing the alphabet is going to be good enough.