Calculating Pot Odds in a Poker Game

Pot Odds

Poker is a game of numbers, probability and luck. When playing poker, especially No Limit Hold'em, you can use numbers to decide whether or not to make a call when on a draw. It is a very simple formula once you understand how it goes. It took me a long time to actually sit down and learn how to actually figure out POT ODDS. I always did number figuring in my head, but when using the right formula it made more sense.

Calculate your Outs

First you should know how to calculate your "outs" when on a draw. Outs are the number of cards that can come to make your hand. Say you are holding 10J and the flop comes Q92 - any 8 or K will make you the nut straight. That's 8 out of 52 cards, or about 1:6 (that means 1 out of every 6 cards). Let's take another example, say you have AK and the flop comes 472, your chances of an A or K coming on the turn or river are 6 out of 52, or about 1:8.

I personally always say " I have 6 outs" - or how many outs I have at the time, rather than saying to myself, "I have a 1 in 8 chance". When you divide the number of cards that can make your hand by the number of cards in the deck, you come up with the numbers separated by a semicolon: 1:6 or 1:8, and so on. You will use this formula along with the pot odds formula to determine whether or not you should call certain bet amounts to try to make you hand.

How to Calculate Pot Odds in Poker

Calculating pot odds is very similar to what I have explained above. I will use small numbers as not to cause confusion. Say the pot is $8.00 and you must call a $1.00 bet to see the turn or river. The pot is offering you 1:8 odds in your favor. Another example- say the pot is $20.00 and you must call a $5.00 bet to see the next card, the pot odds are offering you 1:4. Sounds easy - right ?

Now, you must tie the 2 formulas together to see if you are making the right call on your draw. Lets keep using the above examples. You have 10J in your hand and the flop comes Q92. We have calculated that your odds for hitting your money card are 1:6. The pot is $8.00 and you must call $1.00 to see the turn, so the pot odds are 1:8. The pot odds in this case are greater and you should call this bet. It is 1:6 for you to make your hand and 1:8 for the amount of a bet you have to call. Always remember, the pot odds MUST be higher in your favor than the odds of your cards coming in order for it to be a correct call.

Implied Odds in Poker

What if you do your calculations and the pot odds and the odds of hitting your outs are the same? This is where you can infer what the pot is going to be after everyone puts money in. Say you are 1:6 to make your hand and the pot odds are 1:6 as well, you now figure in what the pot is going to be after the turn and the river. Assuming there are 2 of you in the pot and a $1.00 bet has been laid out for you to call, the pot is $6.00. You calling the bet will make it $7.00, which implies that the bettor will bet again on the turn, and then you will call, making the pot $9.00. These are called Implied Odds. In this case the implied odds would be 1:9 to the 1:6 outs you have for pulling your winning card. You should use the implied odds and make the call.

The bottom line on this is tha numbers don't lie. Yes, once in a while we all play on luck because that is part of the game, but using pot odds tells you clearly "yes or no" if you should put your money into the pot on your chase to make a winning hand. After awhile this process will be like second nature to you. Figuring out your outs, the pot odds, and whether or not to put your money in the pot on certain draws will have a profound impact on your overall poker strategy.

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