How to calculate your pot odds

After you already know how to count the outs, now it’ time to move to the topic – how to calculate your pot odds.

It is highly important to know how to use the knowledge about pot odds while playing poker. Every time you get straight or flesh draw, you are facing with question should you keep on playing or better to fold. Exactly in such cases the pot odds can help you.

It happens very often, that you must compete with already complete hand of your opponent, while having draw hand only.

Draw hand means that you haven’t got the completed combination yet, but the chances to hit it are quite big (4 cards to straight or flesh). You are hoping that the needed card appears at nearest turn or river board to complete the combination. Knowing the pot odds, you can easily understand what action must be made: call or pass.

The calculation of the pot odds is easy itself, however it is more complicated on practical cases. Simple mathematic calculations can quickly give you the overview of your pot odds.

For example:
I am playing Texas Holdem NL $1/$2. I have A♥K♥ on button. I do raise $2. Small and Big blinds are calling. The flop shows J♠ Q♣ 3♥. The small blind bets $1, big one calls.

What are my pot odds?

Let’s calculate all bets. Tree players placed per $2 before flop – 3x $2=$6. Small blind bet $1, big one called. So now $6 + $2 = $8. So it means, we must call $1 bet for chances to get $8 pot. It is 8:1 chance for call, which are out pot odds.

How to use this information?

We would need to calculate our outs for the hand, meaning the cards which we need on next draw be shown to complete better hand.

Imagine that my opponent has top pare of Queens with weak kicker. It this case our outs would be all the rest Aces and Kings (6 outs) plus any 10, which completes the straight (4 outs), so in total I have 10 outs.

Now a bit more of simple calculations: 5 cards are visible for me (two hand and three flop cards) from 52, so it means there are 47 cards left (52 – 5 = 47). 

So 10 cards from 47 will bring us the victory, but 37 from 47 – loose (37/10 = 3.7), which means that probability to get the winning hand is 3.7 to 1.

In order to make a profitable call on flop, our pot odds have to be minimum 3.7:1. But we calculated them before 8:1. It means on the long distance our call will be profitable.

But to make the decision to call or pass by taking into the consideration pot odds on flop is not that correct all the time. It happens that call will be profitable even if the pot odds show opposite.

It’s all because of bets on following draws. If you have any idea, that all your bets on turn and river will be paid by opponents, then the call on flop might be profitable. Potential pot odds – it’s exactly those possible money, which the opponent may invest on later draw.

So basically, that’s it. The mathematic is elementary and every person is able to follow it up to upgrade the skills of poker gaming. These tips are truly important to have on the head once playing poker professional. They help to avoid common mistakes, but of course you must not rely on them only, but on your own intelligence.

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· Published 18.11.2017 · last updated 02.02.2018

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