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Pokerholdem.com: Texas Holdem Poker Strategies

Pot Odds

Saber utilizar las pot odds  o probabilidades del bote

To learn how to use pot odds is an incredibly useful weapon in your poker arsenal. To get the knowledge about this basic concept is fundamental to determine whether or not you will become into a winning or a losing poker player.

The aim of this guide is to explain who the pot odds work and how to incorporate them into your game in an effective way. It would not take you more than ten minutes to read this guide from start to end, which is quite good if we keep in mind that it could save you more money during the rest of your poker career.

What are pot odds?

It is just about using the odds or likelihood to win when holding a drawing hand to decide whether to call a bet or a raise.

Consequently, when you are on a flush or straight draw, you will be able to know whether to call or to fold depending on the size of the bet you are facing using the pot odds. Really, they are quite handy.

In Poker Hold'em you will see yourself in a situation where you will have two cards of the same suit with other two cards of that suit on the flop. In poker this is called a flush draw o, sometimes, `four flush'. We wil use this as an example to learn the use of the pot odds.

Working out pot odds

There are two ways of calculating the pot odds in Poker Texas Hold'em.

  • Ratio method
  • Percentage method.

Both methods provide the same results, so the decision of using one or the other is just a matter of preference.

The ratio method is the most commonly used method for working out pot odds, but personally I have found the percentage method simpler when calculating the pot odds for the first time.

Ratio Method

Most of the books and forums will placed the pot odds in the ratio format, so it's definitely worth while getting used to this calculation method to work with pot odds.

You Hold:

As corazones8 corazón

Flop:

2 corazones7 picasJ corazones

Now let's say there are two people left on the board, you and your opponent. There is $80 in the pot and your rival bets $20. What should you do?

1) Calculating the 'card odds'

First we have to find out what are the possibilities of getting another heart on the turn. This can be done in very different ways, but the most popular one it to find the ratio of cards in the deck which we do not want against those we do want.

  1. There are 5 cards in this hand that we know, our 2 hole cards and the 3 cards on the flop.
  2. This leaves us with 47 cards in the deck that we do not know.
  3. Out of those 47, there are 9 cards that will make our flush and 38 that will not.
  4. If we put this into a ratio it gives us 38:9, or roughly 4:1.

2) Compare with pot odds

Now we know that the odds of the next card being a heart are 4:1. This means that, by 4 times we do not hit a heart, 1 time we will. Next we have to calculate the same ratio of odds using the amount thet is in the pot and the bet e are facing.

  • Our opponent has bet $20 into an $80 pot making it $100.
  • This means we have to call $20 to stand a chance of winning $100.
  • This makes our odds $100:$20 which works out to equal 5:1 pot odds.

So...Card Odds: 4:1; Pot Odds: 5:1. This means we should call, as the odds we are getting in the pot are bigger than the odds of completing our flush draw with the next card. In a long term we will be winning more money than the money we are losing.

Remember: You should only call is the pot odds are superior to the `card odds' (probability of completing your draw).

If calculating the pot odds in your head takes you a long time (which is frequently with most of the beginners), you can find them easier using odds charts. There are really useful if you print them and put them next to your computer to refer to them next time you get a draw.

Percentage Method

The percentage method was easier to me to understand when I started to learn about the pot odds. Unfortunately, it is not used as frequently as the ratio method.

For the ratio method I will use an example with a straight draw.

You Hold:

7 picas9 diamantes

Flop:

6 corazones8 trebolAs diamantes

This time your opponent bets $30 making the pot $90 in total. We will find out whether or not to call by calculating the pot odds in percentages.

1) Finding the 'card odds'

To find out the possibilities of building a straight with the next card, we again need to know the number of outs (`out' are the cards which will complete the hand we are trying to build, in this example we are trying to build a straight). There are 4 fives and 4 tens that will complete our straight, which gives us a total of 8 outs.

To know the percentage possibilities of making a straight we have to double the outs and add one.

  • Finding the percentage "card odds".
  • Double the outs: 8 * 2 = 16
  • Add one: 16 + 1 = 17%
  • 17% chance of making the straight

2) Compare with pot odds

Our opponent has betted $30, which makes the pot $90. This means we have to call $30 to have the possibility of winning $120, as you can see we have to add our own bet to call onto the size of the pot to know the size of the whole pot. This part is really important because finding out the percentage of $30 in a $90 pot will provide a very different result that the percentage of $30 in a $120 pot. So, using basic mathematics we know that $30 is the 25% of $120.

So...Card Odds: 17%; Pot Odds: 25%. As we have already seen, we have a 17% of possibilities of making a straight with the next card which means we should only call the 17% of what is in the pot. Therefore, as we are not obligated to call the 25% to keep on playing, we should fold. We would be losing money in a long term if we call.

Remember: you should only call if the percentage possibilities of completing your hand are bigger than the pot percentage you have to call.

The percentage card odds can also be found in the odds charts if it is easier for you to use them instead of calculating them. They are useful as a guide as you start to incorporate pot odds in your game, or if you have problems when calculating the odds in the short time space you have to take decisions when playing online.

Pot odds evaluation

Although at first sight the pot odds can seem difficult, it is one of the most basic math applications in the poker game. If you base your decisions of making draws in the pot odds, then you will mathematically be a winner in a long term and it does not matter if you win or not.

Besides being used to decide whether to call or not, the pot odds can be used to influence in the amount you should bet to `protect' you hand. If you think that you rival has a flush draw, then you should bet an amount big enough in the pot to give your opponents the right odds to call, if you think you have the best hand. Once more, regardless of whether or not your rival wins the hand, he will be losing and you will be winning in a long term.

Note: the pot odds examples used in this guide are referred to the moment when you have seen the flop and you are waiting to see the turn. It can be applied the same mathematics than the ones used in the turn waiting to see the river, as both odds are almost the same. However, you should remember that in the deck there will be an unknown card left when calculating the odds because now you know which the card on the turn is.

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