When I started playing poker in 2004, I knew very little math. My last math class in high school was Algebra 2, and I took one algebra course in college. Those classes were years behind me, and I forgot most that material by 2004.
When I began learning poker, I found the 2+2 forums. I admired how some posters used math to analyze decisions. Reading their math-based posts was incredibly confusing to me. So, I got a couple poker math books and started reading. The books I got made things worse. They simply through numbers at me for memory work. I read percentages overcards would come to various pocket pairs, how often I would flop a flush draw, etc. This stuff seemed to matter little to most decisions, and I didn’t know what to do with those numbers either.
I elicited the help of a couple posters at 2+2: Matt Hanes and Steven Gallaher. I asked them questions as I tried to work out how poker math worked. They both were patient with me and helped me immensely (I mention them both in the acknowledgements of Poker Math That Matters).
When The Mathematics of Poker was published in 2006, and I excited. The book received great reviews, so I ordered my copy with eagerness. I remember the day it arrived. I cracked it open, struggled to page 2, and then hung my head a bit. This book seemed impossible to me. I struggled through the book a few times, trying to understand as much as I could, which wasn’t much.
Poker math was hard enough for me when I had a calculator and 30 minutes, let alone a few seconds to decide at the poker tables. Still hacking away at poker problems every day, I began to notice ways to simplify decisions. Concepts started to click for me; many problems actually started getting quite easy. There were ways to make this stuff incredibly simple for any student of the game. I thought, “Why has no one explained things simply?”
In the summer of 2009, I started putting together an outline of how I would teach the basics of poker math to someone else. I had no intentions of making a book; just something fun to do. When I finished the outline, I thought, “This is exactly what the poker math book market is missing.” This is poker math that actually matters in most decision processes presented in a way that uneducated persons can grasp. I began looking into to publishing, and had the book on the market in late 2009.
The feedback was what I anticipated. Readers were refreshed to actually understand a poker math book and many commented on how they are now able to create and solve EV equations. A rewarding experience for me. Poker Math That Matters continues to be my best-selling book.
I learned much from that writing experience. There are things I’d like to change in the book, and I’ve learned more math simplifications since I wrote it. I’ve considered something of a second edition. We’ll see what happens with that idea. In the meantime, I’m continuing to stretch my brain working on Poker’s Postflop Course.
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