Poker Strategy > Pot Odds

Pot Odds

Texas Hold’em Pot Odds Made Easy

Pot odds is an important concept all poker players should be familiar with. While pot odds may sound complicated because it involves math, it’s really not hard to get. There’s different ways to explain what pot odds are, but this articles keeps is simple. In addition, you’ll learn how to calculate pot odds on the fly without having to memorize charts and numbers. If you can do basic math, you can calculate pot odds in your head in seconds.

Pot Odds Explained

Pot odds simply refers to a mathematical calculation the measures the risks vs the rewards based on probability. In other words, a pot odd calculation can quickly tell you if it makes sense to call a raise or not, purely from a mathematical sense. As such, it is not an absolute guide on your actions since other non mathematical factors may (and should) influence your poker decisions. Generally, pot odds are used when you face a raise during the second and third betting rounds in instance where you are “chasing” cards to make a hand. There are other applications, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll leave it at that. What this means in plain English is that if you have a 10% chance of catching your card, then you should never call a bet that is more than 10% of the total pot value. It’s that simple. Let me explain it with an example. If you have a 40% chance of catching a card that will likely make you win the pot, then you should call a $350 bet in a $1000 pot, but not a $450 bet in that same pot. In this example, $350 represents 35% of the pot value and is below the 40% odds of catching the card you need to win. Thus is makes mathematical sense to call. When the bet to call is $450, that equates to 45% of the pot values, thus the odds are not in your favor with your 40% chance to win.

It’s All About Your “Outs”

How do you determine your chance of catching your card in terms of percentages? It’s actually quite easy. I could show you a chart with all exact the percentages listed, but it’s not like you’re going to memorize it anyway. There’s a better, easier way. The first thing you need to do is count the number of “outs” you have. Here’s an example: You’re on a flush draw. You have two hearts, the flop has 2 hearts, and you know that one player folded a heart the last round because he showed his hand when he folded. As far as you know, 5 hearts are not I the deck for sure. It means there’s 8 hearts left and they MAY be in the deck. Is say “may” because other players could be holding hearts as well, we just don’t know. Let’s operate on the premise all 8 remaining hearts are in the deck. How does that translate to a percentage value? It depends which betting round you are on.

If you’re in the second betting round, right after the flop was dealt, multiply your number of outs by 4. In this case, 8 x 4 = 32 which means there’s a 32% chance you’ll hit your flush. Easy isn’t it? Who needs stupid pod odds charts anyway?

If you’re in the third betting round, after the turn card, then multiply your outs by 2 instead. So in this case, we’re talking a 16% chance to hit the flush on the river. And there you have it! You’re all set to calculate pot odds and you can use these as guidelines to determine if you should call a bet or not.