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Calculating Pot Odds

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Article Summary: Calculating pot odds are a bit of a struggle for most online poker players. To be a successful online poker player, the player must learn to calculate pot odds and know if a call is actually worth it.

Pot odds are too often overlooked or miscalculated within online poker. Online poker players tend to have the habit of sticking with the mindset that the call is good because they have so many outs. This may be true but more often than not, the outs don’t match up with the pot size in relation to the amount of the bet being called. The objective in calculating pot odds is to determine if the amount being called in relation to the pot size creates favorable odds when the player’s outs have been considered. Calculating pot odds can be challenging mathematically but there are shortcuts to calculating pot odds.

Calculating Pot Odds

Pot odds should always be considered before calling a bet. For example, if the player has a flush draw after the turn with four of the needed cards, most players miscalculate the odds of catching their flush and will make foolish calls. The player has to subtract their two cards from the 52 in the deck and the 4 community cards. This leaves 46 cards (52 – 6) remaining and one card to come. The player has nine outs (13 of a suit, 4 already in play), which need to be subtracted from 46 to leave 37 cards that are useless to the flush draw. The players odds of hitting the flush on the river is 37/9 or when reduced, 4.1/1. In order for a player to call a bet for the draw, the pot amount to be won should be at least 4.1 times the amount the player is calling.

Shortcut for Calculating

Players can take shortcuts that make calculating pot odds a little easier. The simplest shortcut for quick pot odds calculations is to take the number of outs the player has and times it times two. The next step is to add two to that number. Using the previous example, the player has 9 outs times 2, which is 18 and then when 2 is added, the player has 20. This would be a percentage. The player roughly has a 20% chance of hitting their flush on the river, which means the odds are 4/1.

Odds are a little more difficult to calculate for players when more than one card remains to be drawn. The easiest way to calculate these odds are to take the chances of not hitting the outs and figure out the percentage of not hitting the hand. For example, if you have a low pocket pair and want to figure out the odds of flopping a set, you could take the odds and multiply them to figure out your chance of hitting the set. The first card would be 48/50, since you were dealt two cards bringing the deck to 50 and the two outs leave 48 cards saying you will not get a set. The second card is 47/49 and the third card is 46/48.

When these three fractions are multiplied together you get an 88.2% chance that you will not flop a set. If you subtract 88.2% from a 100%, you have an 11.9% chance that you will flop the set. 88.2% divided by 11.9% equals 7.41. The odds that you will flop a set with any pocket pair are 7.41 to 1. This means that the player should only call a bet if the pot with a low pocket pair if the pot can win the player at least 7 times the amount that is going to be called to see the flop. However, this largely depends on position, opponents in the hand and the implied odds. Implied odds are a whole different animal, where odds are being considered based on the assumption of hitting the set and determining how much more money can be expected from squeezing the other players.


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