Understanding poker odds is essential to playing and winning poker. Calculating pot and hand odds might sound complicated at first, but the more time you dedicate to calculating odds away from the poker table, the better you’ll get doing it when you’re actually playing.
So Why is it that Calculating Both Your Winning Hands and Pot Odds Important?
Poker is a mathematical game and in its most basic form every decision you make is based on risk/reward. You need to compare your odds of winning with the odds the pot is offering you to determine if making a call to continue in the hand is profitable in the long run.
Fortunately after follwing these simple tips and the others on this site you will not suck at playing poker tournaments.
Based on on your odds of winning, are you getting the correct odds to call?
If you can’t answer the question, then you’re probably making the wrong decision. You should always be aware of pot size. It’s much easier to keep track of it when playing online poker games because the software automatically calculates it for you on each street.
Without knowing your hands odds, you can’t know whether the odds the pot is giving you is favorable. Before you can calculate your poker odds, you need to know your “outs”. An out is a card in the deck that can improve your hand.
For example, if you have an open ended straight away (OESD) you have 8 cards that can improve your hand to a straight. The first thing is figuring out how many “outs” you have in order to improve your hand to the winner.
How is this helpful?
Even though you can’t expect to put your opponent(s) on an exact hand, you can still fairly accurately put them on a reasonable range of hands and know what cards you need in the deck to improve to the winning hand. Even when you don’t make the nuts, if you have a drawing hand, you can expect to draw to the best hand a lot of the time. Just make sure that when you’re counting outs not to count duplicate cards.
Rule of 4 & 2
Once you come to understand the importance of knowing your “outs”, you can easily calculate your odds of winning.
To do this, you should use the rule of 4 and 2… outs x 4 if your all-in on the flop and won’t need to call any more bets, outs x 2 (to calculate your chances of hitting your draw on the next card). Since you can’t know if your opponent will bet again it’s often right to calculate your odds for the next card.
As an example, let’s say you’re on a flush draw which as you know has 9 outs to make the flush. If you’re all-in on the flop with two cards to come, 9 outs x 4 = 36%. On the turn with only one card to come, 9 outs x 2 = 18%.
How to Calculate Both Pot Odds and Implied Odds
Put simply, pot odds is the ratio of the value of the pot and the value of the bet a player needs to call in order to continue in the hand.
Knowledge of basic math is required to effectively calculate pot odds, but you definitely don’t need to be a math genius either.
Calculating pot odds requires basic division.
You need to calculate the current size of the pot and divide it by the amount that is required to call the bet.
For example, if the pot was $150, and your opponent bet $50 on the turn, the size of the pot would be $200 and you would need to call $50, so you would be getting 4:1 odds to make the call.
It can be useful to think about pot odds in terms of the bet in relation to the size of the pot. This is because the majority of poker players adopt the same bet sizing on the flop, turn or river, especially in online poker games, where you’ll often see players make half or pot size bets. Calling a pot size bet means you’re getting 2:1 odds. A half pot size bet will be offering you 3:1 odds to make the call. Thinking about it like this makes calculating the pot odds in real time much simpler and quicker.
Although if you’re going to be using the rule or 4 and 2, you want to think about pot odds as a percentage. Converting ratio odds to percentage odds is very simple. All you need to do is to divide 100 by the sum of the numbers left and right. So odds of 4:1 is 100/(4+1) = 20% to break even.
So with one card to come on your flush draw, are you getting the right odds to call? With an 18% chance of hitting your flush draw on the river, it would basically be a break even play.
As a general rule of thumb, if your winning odds are greater than the pot odds as a percentage than it’s good and you need to make the call, and if they are lower you generally need to fold.
Notice I said “generally” because this only takes into account the direct pot odds. Understanding implied odds is just as important as understanding pot odds, especially in No Limit Hold’em, where the money you stand to make if you hit your hand is far greater.
Implied odds are similar to normal pot odds and take the following factors into consideration – the size of the pot, the bet you must call, and the chances of extracting additional bets from your opponent(s) when you make your hand. In other words, it takes into account the future rounds of betting and the size of your opponent’s effective stack size.
Since the betting action in future rounds is yet to take place, it’s an estimation and something you will get better at calculating with experience. Generally speaking, the worse the opponent, the larger your implied odds are!
Once you understand the basics of Texas Hold’em, you can really focus on getting better at understanding the mathematical poker odds in order to take their game to a new level. You’ll encounter the same spots when playing, and calculating your “outs” and poker odds will almost become second nature after a while.
For further research you can refer to the article “Casino Mathemathics” by The Center of Gaming Research Association . Here it is factual explained what are the odds of winning at poker and the house edge, aside from other casino games.
*Now that you understand poker odds and how to use them to your advantage follow these simple 5 tips to consistently build your bankroll.
 gaming.unlv.edu, Casino Mathemathics by The Center of Gaming Research Association, 2002