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Nervous about playing live: How to Get better at Math?


Hello everyone,,
I am a new poker player--started playing online this summer and tried one live $2/5 game when I was out of town. I'm going out of town in a week and plan to try playing again (they have $1/3).

At that live game I was so nervous--I found it so hard to keep track of everything. I'm used to having everything counted out in front of me along with written player notes.

Suddenly I had to calculate everyone's stack sizes, the size of the current pot, even counting out the chips I needed to bet was hard (no "half pot" button!). I found it hard to keep up and couldn't focus on categorizing the players or anything. I played pretty tight, and somewhat luckily still came out ahead.

How did you all get good at doing math with chips? Is there a way I can practice this other than just playing at such games? (I don't have people to play with)

Should I just sit in a room and put random amounts into pots to practice? How did you all get so good at it?


  • think

    For me, I multiply the bet amount by the number of players betting on each street.

    So, at $1/2 or $1/3, it would be:

    X raises to $7, Y calls and Z calls.

    The simple version is $7 x 3 = $21. Blinds figure in, but it happens that the rake amount is not terribly far from what the blinds are. If this pot was estimated at $20, you'd be close enough for your "live poker math."

    So then if the next street, X bets $12, Y folds, and Z calls, you end up with $44. I DON'T think of it as "$21 plus $12 plus $12," it's more of a "$21 plus $24" (after thinking $12 x 2 = $24). Again, functionally, if you end up at $40 or $45, you're still close enough: 3/4 pot is about $30, 2/3 pot is a little over $25, and 1/2 pot is about $20. People bias themselves toward using the red chips anyway, so you end up at numbers in increments of $5.

    On earlier streets, I tend to estimate downward at the $1/2, since rake is bigger than the blinds.

    So my point is, it's not addition, addition, addition -- it's more of a street-by-street thing, multiplying the moves and then adding that one number to the pot from the last street. This is really important for multiway pots (which happen a lot in these $1/2 games), as in:

    X raises to $8 with 4 callers -- $8 x 4 = $32 (blinds raked away, estimate downward)
    Pot = ~$30

    X bets $20 with 3 callers = $80 on top ($20 x 4)
    New pot = $110 ($80 plus previous pot of $30).


    This routine keeps you from going, "$32 plus $20, plus...well, she just called, so that's another $20...where were we again?"

    Also, if you are in the hand, you want to be focused on the street, then you can do little multiplication when the dealer is doing the "burn & turn."


    If you're playing 20 percent of hands and sitting out 80 percent, that's 4 out of 5 hands you can be multiplying the pot during, without having to stress over what your next move is. It gets to be an easy routine fairly quickly, especially if you were not so bad with your "times tables" in school.


    As for stack sizes, I just pretty much measure it against 100 BB, as in "full stack, half stack, 3/4 stack, deep stack," also, if someone has you covered, it's less relevant to you how much they have you covered by, so I maybe just mentally categorize it as "covers (my stack)." It's good to at least have these down so you don't fall into the thing of counting up their stack when you feel like you actually want to bet (the "chip glance" tell). "You have to understand, every move at a poker table conveys information" (if I never hear that ad again, it'll be too soon...).

  • mikewwwrm

    Dette er en god bog om poker math essentials.

  • nytider

    It just takes practice. I think it is harder to go from online to live, than the other way around. And part of that is the math not being done for you.

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