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Calculating Pot Odds

 

 Many tools exist that help the avid poker player make critical decisions.  One of the more common among them is the ability to calculate what's known as: Pot Odds.  What does this mean, you ask?  Well, simply put, this is a means of determining your return on investment based on the odds of you hitting your drawing hand and on the amount of risk you're taking (how much MORE money you need to put into the pot to continue) then compare that to potential reward.  This calculation usually renders a bet or fold answer.  Rarely does it end in a tie.

When and Why Are Pot Odds Important to Know?

Not all hands require the calculation of pot odds to make a decision.  Some are so bad, either pre-flop or on the flop, that it's obvious the only way to win is to bluff.  Depending on how hard you bluff, who you're bluffing against, what table image you've cultivated up to this moment AND (most importantly) what the other guys is holding, this may or may not be successful.  None of this requires calculating pot odds.  In fact, if you did, the answer would literally scream FOLD!!!

Other hands, however, are so well developed on their own that folding them against nearly any bet would not be wise.  Some of these are called made hands because they stand on their own.  High pocket pairs are a good example of a made hand. 

Or, you have very strong cards that nearly any decent flop will hit putting you in a powerful betting position.  In this case calculating pot odds comes in handy should someone ahead of you make a substantial bet causing you to rethink the strength of your hand compared to the bettors.

Examples of These Situations

When you see a Flop, you will generally be in one of three situations.

Situation #1: Your hand totally misses the board.

 

QsJs
Your Hand
Ad8h7h
Board

 

You have nothing, so you should check and fold. Another possibility is to bluff.  This is a case where it will take both the Turn AND the River cards (K-10 or 9-10) to make anything strong enough to bet on.  You won't need a calculator for this one.  The odds are severly against you.

Situation #2: You hit the flop well and hold a strong hand.

 

AsKs
Your Hand
KdJh4s
Board

 

In these situations, you should generally bet or raise.  Here's a hand that started out strong and just got better with the Flop.  Not only do you have top pair but also top kicker as well as three cards to a straight and three to a flush.  Again, no need to calcualte pot odds here...unless, like we said before, someone ahead of you places a huge bet.  At that point you best get to figuring....fast.

Situation #3: You have a drawing hand

The third possibility is that you currently do not hold a strong hand, but it is possible for you to make a strong hand if the turn or river brings you a good card. This situation is known as "drawing."

 

AsKs
Your Hand
4s6sJd
Board

 

In this situation, a spade will make you a flush, and an Ace or King will bring you top pair or, if you're very lucky, a Q-10 will show up on the Turn and River for a straight.  But don't count on it.

Here Comes the Math Part

Calculating pot odds is fairly simple. First, you must count the number of outs you have. An out is a card that will improve your hand.

 

QsJs
Your Hand
KdTh7c
Board

 


First, calculate the odds of hitting one of your outs

In this example, your outs are 4 aces and 4 nines, or 8 outs total. To calculate your percentage of hitting an out on the next card, you take the number of outs times 2, then add 1. In the above situation with 8 outs, you have roughly a 17% chance of hitting on the Turn.

Equation: ((4 + 4) * 2) + 1 = 17% chance of hitting one of your 8 draw cards on the Turn


Second, use that answer to determine whether you bet or fold

Once you figure out your chance of hitting a draw, you compare it to the amount of the pot you are about to bet to determine the maximum bet you can call.  For example, if the bet is $10 and the pot is $90, the pot+bet is $100.  Using the previous example you have 8 outs (8 cards will help you). This means you have about a 17% chance of hitting on the next card. If the pot is $90 and you must call $10, you should call, because you have more than a 10% chance to hit one of your outs.

Equation: $10 / ($90 + $10) = 10% risk versus 17% chance of hitting an out - you should BET

However, if the bet to you is $20, you should fold, because that would require an 18.2% investment against your 17% chance of hitting.

Equation: $20 / ($90 + $20) = 18.2% risk versus 17% chance of hitting an out - you should FOLD

Caveats:

  1. In our equation we're using the odds of you catching one of your out cards and not the odds of you winning the hand.  That's an entirely different calculation altogether.

  2. Each time you make this calculation remember; the amount of money you have in the pot has already been accounted for because the calculation includes the total amount of the current pot.  Don't try to adjust for this in your head or you will severely throw off the answer.  Besides, everyone that is left in the hand at this point has the exact same amount of chips in the pot going into the next card (Turn or River) as you do.  Those odds are now even and of no value to the decison you're about to make.


That's all there is to it....sort of...

Obviously in real play there's much to be said about other aspects of the game that could and often should influence your decisions (player tells and habits, your table image versus they're table image, etc.) but from a purely mathematical standpoint this method, over time, will make you more money than it costs you.  Or, if you're one of those glass-half-empty types, it'll save you more money than it will cost you in the long run...:)

So long for now...

As always we encourage our players to take some time and practice the tools and concepts we share with you here on game nights.  Just remember, the rest of the table is practicing on you too.  Either way here's your chance to be a Future Legend of Poker....or at least meet a few...:)


Brandon and Monica

               

                                                                      

 

 

poker puppies

 

 

 

 

PuppiesSeeTheFlop

Calculating Pot Odds

 Many tools exist that help the avid poker player make critical decisions.  One of the more common among them is the ability to calculate what's known as: Pot Odds.  What does this mean, you ask?  Well, simply put, this is a means of determining your return on investment based on the amount of risk you're taking (how many outs you have on a drawing hand) and the potential reward compared to the amount of money you're looking to bet.  This calculation usually renders a bet or fold answer.  Rarely does it end in a tie.


When Are Pot Odds Important to Know?

Not all hands require the calculation of pot odds to make a decision.  Some are so bad, either pre-flop or on the flop, that it's obvious the only way to win is to bluff.  Depending on how hard you bluff, who you're bluffing against, what table image you've cultivated up to this moment AND (most importantly) what the other guys is holding, this may or may not be successful.  None of this requires calculating pot odds.  In fact, if you did, the answer would literally scream FOLD!!!

Other hands, however, are so well developed that folding them against nearly any bet would not be wise.  These are sometimes called made hands because they stand on their own.  High pocket pairs are a good example of a made hand.  Or, they're just very strong cards that nearly any decent flop will hit putting you in a powerful betting position.  In this case calculating pot odds comes in handy should someone ahead of you make a substantial bet causing you to rethink the strength of your hand compared to the bettors.

Examples of These Situations

When you see a Flop, you will generally be in one of three situations.

Situation #1: Your hand totally misses the board.

QsJs
Your Hand
Ad8h7h
Board

You have nothing, so you should check and fold. Another possibility is to bluff.  This is a case where it will take both the Turn AND the River cards (K-10 or 9-10) to make anything strong enough to bet on.  You won't need a calculator for this one.  The odds are severly against you.

Situation #2: You hit the flop well and hold a strong hand.

AsKs
Your Hand
KdJh4s
Board

In these situations, you should generally bet or raise.  Here's a hand that started out strong and just got better with the Flop.  Not only do you have top pair but also top kicker as well as three cards to a straight and three to a flush.  Again, no need to calcualte pot odds here...unless, like we said before, someone ahead of you places a huge bet.  At that point you best get to figuring....fast.

Situation #3: You have a drawing hand

The third possibility is that you currently do not hold a strong hand, but it is possible for you to make a strong hand if the turn or river brings you a good card. This situation is known as "drawing."

AsKs
Your Hand
4s6sJd
Board

In this situation, a spade will make you a flush, and an Ace or King will bring you top pair or, if you're very lucky, a Q-10 will show up on the Turn and River for a straight.  But don't count on it.

Here Comes the Math Part

Calculating pot odds is fairly simple. First, you must count the number of outs you have. An out is a card that will improve your hand.

QsJs
Your Hand
KdTh7c
Board


First, calculate the odds of hitting one of your outs

In this example, your outs are 4 aces and 4 nines, or 8 outs total. To calculate your percentage of hitting an out on the next card, you take the number of outs times 2, then add 1. In the above situation with 8 outs, you have roughly a 17% chance of hitting on the Turn.

Equation: ((4 + 4) * 2) + 1 = 17% chance of hitting one of your 8 draw cards on the Turn


Second, use that answer to determine whether you bet or fold

Once you figure out your chance of hitting a draw, you multiply it by the pot+bet to determine the maximum bet you can call.

For example, if the bet is $10 and the pot is $90, the pot+bet is $100.

Using the previous example you have 8 outs (8 cards will help you). This means you have about a 17% chance of hitting on the next card. If the pot is $90 and you must call $10, you should call, because you have more than a 10% chance to hit ($10 / $100).

Equation: $10 / ($90 + $10) = 10% risk versus 17% chance of hitting an out - you should BET

However, if the bet to you is $20, you should fold, because that would require a 18.2% chance of hitting ($20 / $110).

Equation: $20 / ($90 + $110) = 18.2% risk versus 17% chance of hitting an out - you should FOLD

That's all there is to it....sort of...

Obviously in real play there's much to be said about other aspects of the game that could and maybe should influence your decisions (player tells and habits, your table image versus they're table image, etc.) but from a purely mathematical standpoint this method, over time, will make you more money than it costs you.  Or, if you're one of those glass-half-empty types, it'll save you more money than it will cost you in the long run...:)

So long for now...

As always we encourage our players to take some time and practice the tools and concepts we share with you here on game nights.  Just remember, they're practicing on you too.  Either way here's your chance to be a Future Legend of Poker....or at least meet a few...:)


Brandon and Monica

poker puppies