No Limit Texas Hold’em: Pot Odds


Pots odds, pot odds, pot odds. Everyone wants to know about them, but most don’t really take the time to understand them. Todays post is a continuation of  yesterdays topic, the second half of a questions asked by a client. Many books and articles have explained pot odds at great length with varying results. This is a complex subject that may be best discussed in sections. The problem with learning pots odds, is that most players do not really want to spend time and effort getting bogged down in equations and percentages. My e-book contains some in depth pot-odds discussion, here I will simplify in order to give you a basic start on the subject.

So, how do you know when to draw for a hand? Let’s look at an example and take it from there.

You are in middle position with Jh-Th and are able to limp into a pot where the blinds are $50-$100 respectively. The 2 other players in early position called and the button calls, both blinds stay in, resulting in a pot of $600.

The Flop comes Ah-6s-2h. Both blinds check, but the player in early position bets $200 an is called by the other, leaving $200 to you to stay in the hand. Do you have proper odds to make this call?

To get this answer, you must first calculate the chances of hitting your flush. I am going to simplify this, remember, in order to give you a quick start. There are implied odds (what might be bet after the Turn and on the River) and also whether or not the 3 other players may call OR RAISE to stay in the hand. But, again, lets keep it simple.

There are 52 cards in the deck, 13 of each suit. You can see 4 hearts already between your hole cards and the board. This leaves a total of 9 left for you to hit your flush. Again, we have to assume that you need to hit your flush to win. (with an Ace on the board, someone has made a pair of Aces, so any subsequent J’s or T’s on later streets are not outs for you)

There are 47 cards left that you cannot see. (2 hands which are your hole cards and 3 on the board, subtracted from 52 leaves 47) So, you have a 9:47 chance of hitting your flush, or aprox. 5:1- YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE PERFECTLY PRECISE TO MAKE THIS CALCULATION. Just round the numbers. 9 into 45 is 5, so a little more than 5:1 are your odds.

You have $200 to call into a $1000 pot, giving you 5:1 on your money. Ideally, you want to be getting more odds on your money (higher) than your odds of hitting your hand. For example, if the player to bet first would have bet $100, you would be faced with putting $100 into an $800 pot, or 8:1 on your money. Against 5:1 chance of hitting your hand, those would be great odds to get. In this case, we still have a Turn and River card to see and other players left who may stay in the hand, so when you make the call you may only be getting 5:1, but by the time this round is done, you may have gotten 6:1 or better. (implied odds)

So, the answer in this case is, “Yes” you have proper odds to call. If you extrapolate this out, you can see that a lower bet would give you (or any other player) proper pot odds to make this call, or a HIGHER bet would likely keep you from having proper pot odds. So, if the player in early position would have bet the pot, or $600, and gotten a call from the other early player, resulting in an $1800 pot, you would then only be getting 3:1 on your money and you would be making a error by calling here. (Again, this is skipping implied odds for the present time in order to make the example simple) Also, the bigger bet would have likely folded the other players and you may be looking at 2:1 on you money, even worse odds to be making that call.

So, if you understand how to quickly calculate odds, you can know how much you should be betting to draw on your hand, but you can also easily see how much to bet to keep your opponents from having the proper odds to draw out on you. Remember, you don’t have to calculate it exactly, just round it off.

This works for any hand you may be drawing to. Lets say you have A-K and the Flop is T-6-2. Your opponent bets 1/2 the pot of $600, and you are faced with $300 into a $900 pot, 3:1 on your money. You think he has a pair, so you have to hit an Ace or King to win the hand. With only 6 of those cards left in the deck, out of 47 cards remaining, you have about a 8:1 (6 divided into 48) shot of hitting your card. Not even close to good enough odds when you are only getting 3:1 on your money.

Again, this is a tough topic, simplified here, there is more to think about, but understanding this first concept will start you on the right road to learning when to fold a hand and also how to bet your own hand.  If you want a more in depth discussion, try my e-book, The No B.S. Guide to Winning Online No Limit Texas Hold’em.

To purchase my 224 page ebook The No BS Guide to Winning Online No Limit Texas Holdem or live one-on-one coaching sessions with Chris Wilcox,  click this
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