The Mathematics of Poker by Bill Chen and Jerrod Ankenman

mathematics of poker bill chenBill Chen and Jerrod Ankenman’s Mathematics of Poker which was published in 2009 is not an easy book, especially if you are not particularly good at maths. However, if you are willing to put in the time and the effort it will do wonders for your poker skills. This is poker at the highest level.

You don’t need to know too much maths to read it. The first three chapters lay the foundations for statistics as they relate to poker including bell curves and Bayes’ theorem. Just take from these what you can as you can always refer back to them later.

The book then moves on the exploitive play, which is really about the way in which most of us play the game. It teaches us how to work out the thought processes of our opponent, how to exploit this and how to find counter strategies.

From chapters 10 through to 21 the authors address optimal play, and this is where the real value of the book can be found. They provide sometimes startling strategic insights, and promote the concept that rather than attempting to exploit our opponent, you should put most of your efforts into avoiding being exploited by them. This they call un-exploitable play.

Their approach is to make a representative yet very simple model of the game which keeps the mathematics relatively easy, yet gets across the concepts. It might seem a little strange to replace a 52 card deck with just 3 cards, in some ways it is like “paper, scissors stone”, but it really does work. One of the most useful lessons is their presentation of a systematic solution to bluffing.

In the final chapters the authors present real case studies in which they relate their mathematical models to real games of poker. Find the best online casino games in the UK at If you want to become a winner at poker, and which poker player doesn’t, read this book. It is just as applicable to online poker as it is to playing the game live.