# What is the Kelly Criterion in Poker?

## Table of content:

Poker is a game of skill, strategy, and smart calculations. It also involves a lot of patience, humility, and good background work. If you are here to improve your strategy and up your overall game, then learning about the Kelly Criterion in poker and its application might be the right place to start!

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In poker, the starting bet refers to the initial amount wagered by the first player to act in a betting round. It sets the minimum amount other players must match to continue in the hand. The starting bet size can vary depending on the specific poker variant being played and the betting structure (e.g., no-limit, pot-limit, or fixed-limit).

## What is the Kelly Criterion in poker?

The Kelly Strategy or Kelly Bet is a theory that is largely utilized by experienced gamblers to determine the amount of their existing bankroll that they must place in one bet using mathematical operations.

The main purpose of using the Kelly Criterion in poker is to minimize one's risks of ruin. It is to ensure profitability for the gambler in the long run. It promotes calculated risk-taking behaviour in the gambler and ensures that the entire net worth of the gambler is not severely diminished by one wrong call.

It is usually employed as a method to calculate bets in various sports betting and other forms of gambling, especially in cases there is a finite, win-or-loss result.

To illustrate how to use the Kelly Criterion in poker, consider this:

Consider an even money bet with a 0.7 probability of winning or a 70% chance. On applying the Kelly Bet, multiplying the wager size percentage by two and subtracting the result by one, the present bet will leave the optimal wager size to be 40% of the available funds.

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## Basic Kelly Criterion Formula:

To know how to use the Kelly Criterion in poker, you must know the formula.

The Kelly criterion formula is as follows:

f* = (bp-q)/b

Where f* is the fraction of the current bankroll to bet

b is the odds received on the bet

p is the probability of winning

q is the probability of losing, which is 1 - p

p is our ITM (In The Money)

One must determine the ROI or return on investment to calculate the odds received on the bet. ROI is calculated as,

ROI = (wins-losses)/ investment

Thus, f* can be equated to ROI * ITM / (ROI + 1 - ITM)

For instance, if the equation will stand at b = q/p, then the gambler has zero edges, and it is recommended that the gambler bet nothing.

How long should a poker session be? The duration of a poker session can vary depending on various factors such as personal preferences, physical and mental stamina, and the specific game format being played. However, a typical poker session can last anywhere from a few hours to several hours, or even longer in some cases.

## Application Of The Kelly Criterion In Poker

Employing the Kelly Criterion in poker might be slightly tricky since there are a huge number of variables that complicate the results. It is therefore used in a much broader sense. The Kelly Criterion can be applied in two main aspects of the game - during the game selection and while picking spots in-game.

The crux of a good bankroll management strategy is to stay in action and not go bust, for which one has to risk only a small percentage of the bankroll at a given game. Using the Kelly criterion in poker may serve as the guiding light during game selection by pointing out that the poker tournament is just one small percentage of the overall bankroll and must be selected based on the results of applying this theory. This scientific method of bankroll management will help sustain the player in the long run.

For example,

If you're playing an NL100 game with a win rate of 10 bb/100hands (big blinds per 100 hands) and a standard deviation of 100 bb/100 hands, then your win rate in terms of percentages may be regarded as

10 = 100*(2p-1)

On solving for p, we get p=55%, and your advantage is 10%, meaning you must invest 10% of your bankroll in maximising your growth rate.

Applying this helps the player maximize the bankroll growth rates in a scientific, less volatile manner.

Applying the Kelly criterion in poker also gives us a slight advantage by allowing us to force the opponents into risking a high proportion of their resources while not risking much themselves.

However, it is important to note that this is not a foolproof formula for success and is fraught with drawbacks. The Kelly Criterion in poker makes some crucial assumptions that may go wrong or might not be applicable in certain scenarios.

For instance, the Criterion assumes that the player will be playing an infinite number of games and hence, offers its results. But this formula becomes redundant or sub-optimal in case a limited number of rounds are in the game.

Another issue is that the formula does not address variance, especially because it computes only expectations. Also, when there are three or more outcomes in a game, the formula does not work since it ignores the additional variance compared to a game with just two outcomes.

ICM poker meaning, ICM in poker stands for "Independent Chip Model." It's a mathematical model used to calculate the equity distribution in a tournament based on chip stacks. ICM takes into account factors such as the size of the chip stacks, the prize pool distribution, and the payout structure to determine the "fair" value of each player's chip stack.

## To wrap it up

The Kelly Criterion best embodies the words of this popular expression, ‘expect the best, prepare for the worst, capitalize on what comes’. Applying this successfully to your poker game might give you that added advantage in a game otherwise considered a game of luck.

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## FAQ's

### What does Kelly criterion explain?

• The Kelly Criterion is a mathematical formula used to determine the optimal size of a series of bets to maximize long-term wealth in situations involving uncertainty, such as gambling or investing. It balances risk and reward, considering the probability of success and potential returns.

### What is the criterion of Kelly?

• The Kelly Criterion, developed by John L. Kelly Jr., is a formula for determining the optimal size of a series of bets or investments. It seeks to maximize long-term wealth by considering the probability of success and the potential reward, aiming to balance risk and return.

### What is the Kelly method formula?

• The Kelly Criterion formula is: f* = (bp - q) / b, where f* is the fraction of current capital to bet, b is the odds received on the bet, p is the probability of success, and q is the probability of failure (1 - p).

### How do you use Kelly Criterion in blackjack?

• In blackjack, the Kelly Criterion can be applied to optimize betting strategies. Players estimate the probability of winning each hand, use the formula to determine the fraction of their bankroll to bet, and adjust bets based on changing probabilities during the game to maximize long-term gains.

### What are the assumptions of the Kelly Criterion?

• The Kelly Criterion assumes knowledge of the probabilities of success and failure, a consistent betting environment, and that wealth growth is the primary goal. It also assumes that the probabilities and payoffs remain constant, which may not hold in dynamic real-world situations.
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