I recently posted a kind of fun thread
in one of the live poker forums on the reasons people lose at live poker.
I got a lot of comments, but one of the things that people didn't pick up on was this one:
Your play incorporates too much psychology and not enough math.
I was paying my tribute, as someone who has been playing about as long as antneye (but mostly live) and with a somewhat similar outlook (I was skilled at math when I was in school and was kind of a "natural" when it came to some of the concepts of poker math and therefore spent more time conceptualizing the game than worrying about the razor's edge of math calculations), to the real importance of math in this game.
I still don't think that MOST players need to be completely precise about math. If you understand the basics (estimating pot size, estimating outs, estimating combinations that beat you), and the rake is beatable, that's all you need to get you all the way up to 2/4 or so online or 40/80 live. Your opponents are simply making much bigger mistakes than you are at those levels, and many times the mathematical decisions aren't close anyway.
But one of the things I've learned is that BEING precise and continually learning more math and applying it is important for a different reason even if you aren't going to be playing at a level where it's crucial that your calculations be exact because your opponents are making precise mathematical calculations themselves. And that is, it keeps your head in the game.
For instance, every once in awhile I'll get a little sloppy and fold a flop in a situation where my backdoor outs add enough equity to justify a call. And that's an avoidable mistake-- IF I keep my head in the game and actually do the math, count my outs, and calculate my odds, every time. That's a simple example. But beyond that, it's important in your session reviews to plug your key hands into Stove. Sometimes I find that when I actually calculate someone's range reasonably and plug it in, I payed off someone I absolutely shouldn't have or called where I really didn't have the equity to justify it, because I overvalued my pair outs or didn't give the villain enough credit for a narrow range.
Even for someone like me, who isn't Mr. Poker Math by any stretch of the imagination, there is clearly no substitute for the discipline of doing the math, every single time.
Great post ant.