NoMercy Monday: Calculating the Magic Number "M"

NoMercy Monday: Calculating the Magic Number “M”

In this strategy series, CoinPoker’s Chief Community Manager and pro poker player Isabelle “No Mercy” Mercier walks you through the basics of the game. Each No Mercy Monday comes with expert advice on how to play,  and it all starts with starting hands.


Knowing how to play your starting hands, understanding the notion of position, the art of bluffing, being aggressive, and calculations & pot odds, are five concepts that are part of the most important strategies in No Limit Hold’em Poker.

We covered these over the past few months, and in this latest chapter, we will explore another poker math theory that is best known as the “Magic Number”.

Next Chapter: Calculating the “M”

We saw over the last weeks that poker is a game of incomplete information, and as such, we have to use all the tools available to us in order to make the best possible decisions. One interesting mathematical tool is “M”, otherwise known as the “Magic Number”, which was defined for the first time by the now deceased Paul “X-22” Magriel.

I had the chance to have Paul as one of my first mentors along with Gus Hansen, and they quickly trained me to use this method in tournaments to adjust my play according to my stack. The concept is close to the “number of big blinds” theory that most players nowadays use in tournaments to determine their style of play, but for Paul, who was a deep mathematician, this “M” formula was much more precise.

It might seem old fashioned, but since then, I have always used my “M” and not my “number of BB” to determine my actions at a poker table.”

“M” takes antes into consideration along with the BB. It might seem old fashioned, but since then, I have always used my “M” and not my “number of BB” to determine my actions at a poker table. However, the question still stands as to the actual meaning of the abbreviation “M”. Some say it stands for “Magic Number” and some say it stands for “Magriel”, its inventor.

In any case, the method for calculating your “M” is as follows: you take your stack size and you divide it by the total of chips necessary for a complete round of play, including the antes.

For example:

Let’s say that you are sitting on 4,500 CHP and the blinds are 100-200 with antes of 25, at a six-handed table. With a structure like this, it will cost you 450 CHP to play each round (100 for the small blind, 200 for the big blind, and 6 times the ante of 25 to complete the round). Therefore, if you divide your 4500 CHP 450, you see that your “M” equals 10. 

In line with this theory, you will have to adjust your play and choose your starting hands according to the “M” number you get. Stay tuned next week to learn more about different applications of this concept at the table.

Also, don’t forget to join me weekly in the Hubble Bubble tournaments and Sunday’s Andromeda events to practice your skills and try to win my 10,000 CHP or 25,000 CHP bounties! 

– Isabelle “No Mercy” Mercier

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *