The EV of a poker hand

Ace Jack

The EV or expected value of a hand of poker is very hard to figure out. It is a combined number of pot equity and fold equity and this constantly is in a state of flux. All we can be certain of though is that there is a certain level of profitability in any poker situation. So we can thus define and place the profitability of a poker hand onto a sliding scale where at one end we have zero expectation while at the other end we have one hundred percent expectation with a sure win.

In between these two extremes are all different variations of profitability from some that are moderately profitable to moderately unprofitable to others that are only very marginally profitable and so on. So what has this to do with anything? Well gauging the potential profitability of a poker hand is very important within the modern realm of online poker. This has far reaching consequences because of the fact that in the modern game then all serious professional players tend to multi-table.

To be an effective multi-tabler then you need to be able to add as many tables as possible…… this much is obvious. You cannot get the effect of playing on say eight tables if you cannot handle eight tables. However to be able to handle eight tables then you need to balance your play. One very important fact presents itself here; you are not playing the same style of poker when you play on eight tables as what you are playing on just one. This fact is lost on a lot of players that try to play online poker for a living or try to play it seriously.

To be an effective multi-tabling pro or semi-pro then you have to learn to discard hands that are only marginally profitable. This comes largely with experience but it is vital that you have this skill. The marginally profitable hands will be both large in number and small in profit. While these are important and add to your bottom line if you single table, they can be a huge hindrance when multi-tabling. Let us look at the difference between someone that plays say 20% of their hands compared to 30% and they play 600 hands per hour. One has the player active in 120 hands per hour while the other has 180 hands per hour.

This may seem like no big deal but those extra 60 hands are not making an awful lot of money. They could also be leading to this player spewing money on the other tables simply because there is too much overlap where critical decisions are happening on several tables at once and playing decisions become less accurate.

So reducing the number of hands that you play per table doesn’t have a large negative effect on your earnings per table. However it can have an absolutely huge effect if by dropping those marginals you then have the freedom to open up more tables. Who makes more money…… a player who makes $5 per hour per table and can play eight tables or a player that makes $6 per hour per table but can only handle four tables?