Poker Strategy

Texas Holdem Strategy: What's Poker Swing and How to Calculate it

Texas Holdem Strategy: What's Poker Swing and How to Calculate it

Wins and losses are the fluctuations in our total chip count, and the question is, where do these fluctuations come from, and how do we know how much fluctuation we can endure? In the Texas Hold'em strategy, poker swing refers to the amount we win or lose in total chips. Its sources are twofold.

What's Poker Swing and How to Calculate it Game Introduction

Since we began delving into the Texas Holdem strategy, I believe our judgment in the game has significantly improved compared to before. The reason we study the Texas Holdem strategy is that this game has a relatively low luck factor. To profit, it's more about taking the right actions, whether it's checking, calling, raising, or folding.

However, bad beats unfold every day on Texas Hold'em tables worldwide. So, as long as we play enough hands, we will inevitably encounter them. This is something no amount of Texas Holdem strategy can compensate for or avoid. All we can do is take actions with positive expected value as much as possible, using the correct Texas Holdem strategy to recover what we lose.

Next, we want to share with you something related to the inevitable wins and losses in our games. Wins and losses are the fluctuations in our total chip count, and the question is, where do these fluctuations come from, and how do we know how much fluctuation we can endure?

Texas Holdem Strategy: What's Poker Swing and How to Calculate it

What is Poker Swing

In the Texas Hold'em strategy, poker swing refers to the amount we win or lose in total chips. Its sources are twofold. One is the wins and losses resulting from our Texas Holdem strategy, whether it's bluffing or value betting.

The other is the wins and losses due to luck in situations where some community cards are still unrevealed. Of course, these two situations can overlap, adding more possibilities to Texas Hold'em.

In an ideal situation, we hope opponents fold when we bluff and pay when we make value bets. However, reality often differs from what we hope for.

Even if we use the Texas Holdem strategy and make theoretically correct moves, Game Theory Optimal (GTO) tells us that our win rate is not 100%. In other words, there is still a certain level of risk involved. This risk is the source of our poker swing.

Texas Holdem Strategy: What's Poker Swing and How to Calculate it

How to Calculate Poker Swing

Statistics tell us that the expected value is our win rate multiplied by our profit. Our win rate, in the long run, is the average number of times we win when we make the same move a hundred times, the average profit.

In statistics, since win rates come from arithmetic averages, they are susceptible to extreme values. Therefore, the amplitude of the poker swing should include both positive and negative values. However, due to Texas Holdem strategy telling us that we won't lose more than our total buy-in, in Texas Hold'em poker swing, positive extreme values are more significant than negative ones.

From a statistical perspective, the proportion and frequency of extreme values deviating from the arithmetic average are known as standard deviations. Its purpose is to observe the degree of dispersion between samples and the mean. Based on this dispersion, we can create a distribution of numerical values to understand where our poker swing roughly falls.

Poker Swing Example

For example, suppose we consistently go all-in from the button position and get called about 30% of the time. In this scenario, we have a 70% chance of winning the small blind and big blind amounts.

 Among the 30% of situations where someone calls, there's about a 20% chance of two players calling and an 80% chance of one player calling. The win rate for winning against two callers is approximately 33%, splitting the pot with two callers is around 3%, and tying is 2%. The win rate for winning against one caller is 48%, losing is 48%, and tying is 2%.

We can calculate the expected value as follows: 0.7 * (small blind + big blind) + 0.24 * 0.48 * buy-in - 0.24 * 0.48 * buy-in + 0.06 * 0.33 * 2 * buy-in + 0.06 * 0.03 * 0.5 * buy-in - 0.06 * 0.62 * buy-in.

Assuming a small blind and big blind of 10/20 and a buy-in of 2000, the expected value is 27.6, and the poker swing ranges from +4000 to -2000.

The above is a simple example illustrating how to calculate the expected value and the potential poker swing.

In the next article, we will focus on explaining how different Texas Holdem strategy, combined with position and hand range, can lead to different poker swings. Until next time!


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