How to Figure Pot Odds

How To Figure Out Pot Odds
Some people consider No-Limit Texas Hold’em to be a game of pure chance – no different than roulette or baccarat. But these people are forgetting something. Someone is making money at the roulette and baccarat tables on a consistent basis. In fact, someone is making hundreds of millions of dollars on those games. That someone is the casino.

Sure the casino could lose money in the short-term. The Griswald family could come to Las Vegas and have a hot streak and take a couple of thousand dollars out of the casino’s pocket. But in the long run, the casino will take in much more money than they pay out. The casino wins because they exploit the odds in their favor.

For example, let’s say we decided to gamble on flipping a coin. The odds of the coin landing on heads or tails are 1 in 2. If I win, I give you a dollar and if you win you give me a dollar. Over the course of one or two flips, one of us would be ahead of the other, but over the course of several hundred flips we’d end up about even. Now let’s change the rules.

If I win the coin flip, you still pay me one dollar but if you win I pay you two dollars. Now who’s ahead after 100 flips? You are! In fact, you’re probably up by about $50. Poker is a lot like that. By exploiting the odds and getting your opponent to take the worst of it, you can play profitably in the long run.

Once you have learned about pot odds, you should try out your new knowledge at the real money tables, without having to risk your own money. How? By signing up for a no deposit poker offer or a free poker bankroll.

How to Figure the Odds in Poker

Probability permeates every aspect of poker. For example, the odds that pocket aces will still be the winning hand by the river are a lot better that the odds that 72 offsuit will hold up. Using proper hand selection alone can give you an edge in the lower limit games. But hand selection is a discussion for another time. For now, let’s talk about outs.

Calculating Your Outs
Outs are cards that will improve your hand to a winning hand. Consider this example:

You: AK of spades
Opponent: ??
Flop: T(s)-5(d)-2(s)

Your opponent raised preflop from under the gun and you called on the button. After the flop, your opponent bet the size of the pot. What’s your move?

First you have to think about what your opponent might have. It takes a strong hand to raise from early position, so we should immediately be thinking high pocket pair. AK is a possibility as well and if our opponent is tricky, then mid pocket pair could be possible.

The full pot-sized bet from early position on the flop gives us some more information. Our opponent’s bet tells us that he isn’t afraid of a made hand like AT, but he is afraid of the spade flush draw (which we have). The hands we should be considering now are TT, JJ, QQ, KK, AA. Aces and kings are a little less likely since we hold one of each of those cards.

Let’s calculate our outs if our opponent has JJ or QQ. We will win if any spade falls or any king or ace. That’s 9 outs for the spade draw (9 remaining spades in the deck), 3 outs for the remaining kings and 3 outs for the remaining queens for a total of 15 outs. What are our chances of winning the hand?

Our real odds are 54.1% to win. Since the pot is laying us 2 to 1, it’s a call based solely on pot odds. A quick way to calculate your chances of hitting your outs is to take the number of outs, multiply it by two, then multiply that number by the number of cards to come. So our calculations would go like this:

15 outs x 2= 30×2 cards to come = 60% to win

This method skews your chances higher the more outs you have, but it’s a quick way to get your bearings when you’re at the table.

Now calculate your odds if your opponent has KK or AA.

Your only outs now are your spades. So that’s 9 outs x 2= 18 x 2 cards to come= 36% (the actual number is 35%, but you can see how we’re more accurate now that we’re dealing with less outs). Now the pot odds aren’t looking so good.

So what do you do? I’d call and see what my opponent does on the turn. Of course, if the turn is a spade, I don’t care what my opponent does. I’m going to go for the throat.

After you gain some experience in No-Limit Texas Hold’em, you’ll learn that pot odds aren’t the only thing you should consider. Implied odds are also important. We’ll discuss what implied odds are and how they affect you in the next article.