Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Maximizing Expected Value

“A philosopher, who is not taking part in discussions, is like a boxer who never goes into the ring.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

There has been a lot of discussion about this in the poker blogosphere lately, so here is my opinion.
Poker is a mathematical game. Mathematical expectation should be a very important factor in the strategy and tactics one adopts and the decisions that one makes in any poker game. This expectation (also known as Expected Value) is factored into every decision a good poker player makes. Situations/decisions that are positive EV, are situations/decisions that over a long period of time and innumerable instances, always make money.
Negative EV situations/decisions are ones that always lose money over a long period of time and innumerable instances.

Creating a hostile playing environment (whether live or online) is always negative EV.

Here is why. Over the long haul, it only serves to reduce the volume of less serious players. Players that are skilled and serious about their game will not be discouraged from playing because they are playing to win irrespective of anything else. However, there are lots of players that just play for fun. These are not bad players at all. They just aren’t “into it” as much as some of the rest of us.
I believe it is positive EV to have as many of these somewhat casual players involved as possible. They are good people. They are fun to play with. They add money to the table if playing for cash and money to the prize pool of tournaments. All they do is add value - money, entertainment, as well as, comradery. Thus, they are highly desirable to have in any game. Why in the world would we want to create situations that discourage these folks from playing with us?

It just doesn’t make sense. Good players want to maximize positive EV.
Think about it. Until next time, good luck at the tables.


HighOnPoker said...

This is an interesting different take on the topic, and I think it is 100% correct.

Let me suggest something else, though. A lot of time, those offensive obnoxious players are tilting or are tilters generally speaking. That's why I think that people should take it with a grain of salt and should exploit those players instead of later complaining that they "ruined the game".

I think this is more true in a live game than online, since live game tilters are easy to identify; but it is something to consider generally.

Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Well said. Being a penis at the poker table will basically always lead to the worse players not sticking around.