Pot Odds


Pot odds are very important to include in your strategic thinking if you want to improve your poker game. Most beginners simply ignore this part of poker strategy while intermediate players usually start to realize that this tool can go a long way in increasing the chances for making the right decisions. There is plenty of advice available as to how to read the pot odds correctly and it is wise to find a way that suits your style of poker play. Pot odds could seem complicated to understand but the truth is that most players will find the same situations coming up over and over and therefore it isn't all that difficult to memorize how to relate to the odds.

Pot Odds

The pot odds, simply stated, are the relation between how much money is in the pot compared to how much you need to put in. To use these odds you need to compare the odds of you getting the card you need to make the hand you're looking for with the pot odds. If the odds for getting the card are less than the pot odds you should make the bet. This sounds simple enough yet most players that are only beginning to utilize this valuable tool feel as if this calculation requires great math skills. After all, the odds must be figured fast enough for the game to continue at a normal pace.

The most basic way of calculating the pot odds is to look at what is in the pot in relation to what you need to bet in order to call. Say that there is $100 in the pot and you must bet $20 this gives you the pot odds of 100:20 which can also be expressed as 5:1. In this situation you would make the call if you thought that your hand had a 1-in-5 chance or better of winning the pot. What makes the calculation a bit trickier is that you have to consider what the next player betting will do. If he adds to the pot the odds will naturally change and this could be to your advantage or not.

Implied Odds

Considering what your opponent, next in line to bet, will do is part of calculating the pot odds. This is usually referred to the implied odds and should not be neglected. You need to judge the outcome of your hand and the probabilities of you completing it but keeping an eye on what your opponents could be expected to bet will help. Say that at your turn the pot odds stand at 75:25 which could also be described as 3:1. If you feel sure that your opponent will call your bet and you expect it to be a bet of $50 the pot odds would turn into 125:25 and stand at 5:1 which changes the picture quite a bit. Knowing how to read the situations coming up requires some experience but just knowing that this should be considered will help in spotting the most common scenarios and use them for future reference.

The Odds for the Cards

In order to use the pot odds you need to calculate the odds for you getting the card you need to complete your hand. One example of this could be that you are trying to complete a straight. You have a hand of Q-T and on the table is J-4-9. To complete your straight you'll need an 8 and a King and there will be four of each in the deck. Out of 52 cards you have seen 5, 3 on the table and two on your hand. This means that there are 47 more cards to see and out of them 8 will help you complete your hand. This leaves 35 cards as useless and the odds of getting the hand could be described as 35:8.

Comparing the Odds

In the situations mentioned above a player would find that his pot odds are bigger than his hand odds and the advice would be to go ahead with the bet. Sometimes it gets just as simple as that but this example is not enough to master the art of understanding the pot odds and their influence on the game. There are cards with ready calculations for the most common scenarios that can be used as an easy way to start applying the pot odds strategy but this should be done in combination with learning more about ways to calculate the odds. Different experts will give different approaches and as soon as you get the idea of how the basics work you will most likely find it very entertaining to raise the level of your pot odds strategy.


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