Poker Combinatorics and Player Notes

WARNING!!! The following post is for INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY. It is not intended as advise or guidelines, but merely an explanation of an established set of mathematical principles, that when combined with “well kept” notes can, in my opinion, give you all the information you need to make logical and sound decisions as to the course of play in any particular hand, thus improving your overall game.

Poker Combinatorics: working out how many different combinations of a hand exists in a certain situation
Player Notes: reminders to yourself of observations you have made about a particular player

Player notes has been a recent topic of discussion. The posted questions and replies struck me with a ‘ton of bricks’ idea: What if you could combine your notes with mathematical principles?

First, a short discussion on player notes. Google lists many discussions on this topic. One such article, , makes for a great read. A player can glean a surprising amount of information about opponents. Whether you take notes or not, you may want to reconsider it if you don’t. Player notes may hedge the odds in your favor, a very desirable tool in a game of chance. How? By noting how an opponent acts in various situations, and using “Poker Combinatorics”, you can get a better understanding of the “true” value of your hand.

What is Poker Combinatorics? It is a simple system revealing how many different combinations of a hand exists in a certain situation. For example, you are dealt KQ on a KT4 flop. How many possible combinations of AK are there? The short answer is 8. The equation C= A1 X A2 (where C= total combinations, A1= available cards for the first card, and A2= available cards for the second card) is how this is figured. Why is this important? Because now you know how many AK combinations there are that will beat your KQ (notwithstanding the other combos). This information, when combined with your notes on the other active players gives you a clear picture of the “most probable” hand they have. If your notes say “Only all in on AK”, and a player goes All-In , then it may follow that the player has AK and adjust your play accordingly. Just remember, “most probable” and “may follow” does not mean you will win the hand. However, you DO have a better idea as to the true value of your hand and if it warrants a call or not. As before, a simple Goggle search will find articles written on combinatorics and are worth the read. A a good place to start is

What does this all mean? With careful observations of your opponent’s play, making a history-based assumption of their hole cards and knowing if they fall within the range of possibilities, you can get a better understanding of how strong your hand really is and determine if the “pot odds” are worth continued play in any given hand.

Hope this is helpful and Good Luck at the tables!

For you history buffs, prior to Dianetics and Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard started his whole epic journey through five card stud poker, then his patented Combinatorics®. I’m sure the good counselor Getty can fill in more of this great history.


And here I thought I was the only “old geezer” :slight_smile: And for the record, I am not counselor, that is just a character name left over from the days when I was Don of the Cuneo family in the MMO game Godfather Five Families. And yes, I did read Mr. Hubbard’s poker journey.