Anyone can get lucky and win in poker. But the question is how lucky and for how long? If you ever try measuring your luck, you’re certain to come across the term “expected value.” So, what is EV in poker?

In layman’s terms, EV is the amount of cash that a particular play is expected to net you in the long run. Without a solid grasp of EV, you’re merely guessing your way through the game, and your ability to generate profitable plays is highly limited.

### What is EV?

EV is one of the most fundamental mathematical concepts in the game of poker. If you want to improve your skills and maximize your chances of winning, you need to have an in-depth understanding of EV.

In short, EV is the average return on each dollar that a player puts in the pot. Bear in mind that this isn’t about the short term and what actually happens in each hand. It’s about identifying what moves make or lose money in the long run. The concept is designed to help players make smart bets by weighing up risks and rewards. This is perhaps the most straightforward EV definition.

When a play is expected to be profitable, it’s considered to have a positive expectation or +EV. If a call or a bet is expected to lose money, then the play has a negative expectation or -EV.

Across the many variants of poker there are numerous tools that can help you work out the odds of winning or losing. One of those is the expected value calculator, which helps you identify +EV plays.

### Why Is EV Important in Poker?

There are countless situations where probability dictates the outcome in poker. That’s why the concept of expected value applies to so much of what happens in the game.

More experienced players understand the importance of poker EV and make wagers that are likely to generate +EV. Beginners or players who aren’t familiar with the concept tend to make bets without paying any attention to whether their wagers have +EV or -EV. That’s why veterans of the game always make more money over time.

So, if you want to improve your chances of winning, start focusing on EV and identifying wagers that are likely to generate cash in the long run.

### Secure Those Long-Term Wins

The important thing to keep in mind when it comes to EV in poker is that this concept explains long-term strategis. Once you’ve calculated that a certain play has +EV, the idea is to keep playing it even if you don’t see immediate results. You might have bad days and lose money, but as long as you keep making those +EV wagers, you’ll win in the long term.

Inexperienced poker players make the mistake of focusing on a single hand or a single session before arriving at the conclusion that their strategy was flawed. Meanwhile, an experienced player knows how to calculate the expected value and identify +EV wagers.

That said, there are instances when players think they’ve figured out the poker math and all the +EV moves, but still end up losing. The bottom line is that this scenario is inevitable once in a while when you play a game like poker. But you can minimize your losses by staying focused on long-term wins, which can only be achieved by zeroing in on those +EV wagers.

### How to Make a Profit Using EV

With EV explained, it’s time to learn how to use the concept at the poker table. You’ll want to shoot for the highest possible EV and stick to +EV wagers, which essentially translates into maximizing your overall profits.

During gameplay, you can use range analysis by assigning your opponents a range of possible hands in order to determine the EV. This should be combined with traditional logic-based predictions about the amount of time you expect your opponents to take before they either call or fold.

A truly skilled poker player is one who knows how to make something of his luck. You can’t afford to shy away from a certain degree of risk, and you mustn’t be focused solely on the immediate results.

In order to win, one must place bets by taking lines that get them a +EV while playing in specific scenarios and against specific players. Rather than worrying about short-term profits, the best poker players are those who are always looking to maximize their long-term gains by taking calculated risks.