What is Pot Odds?

So you are sitting with a 4 flush on the Turn and you believe that if you make the flush you will have the best hand. Well, you are probably thinking that you only need 1 more heart but a better decision will be made if you learn and follow the mathematics of poker. But before getting in to Pot Odds, it is necessary to take a look at Outs and Probabilities.

Counting Outs and Calculating Probabilities

‘Outs’ are cards that will make your hand. For example, if you have a J§ Q§. The Turn shows A§ 10§ 2© 7¨. Now it is time to figure out which cards would make a hand for you. With an overcard on the board, it makes sense to only look at the straight and flush possibilities. Any § will make you a flush. The K§ would give you a royal flush or, if it doesn’t come out, leave you vulnerable to a bigger flush. Also any non-§ king would make you a straight. Now, let’s count our Outs. There are 10 §’s that would make you a flush and 3 non-§ queens that will make you a straight. So you have 14 outs to make a straight, flush, or royal flush.

  • The deck contains 52 cards
  • You know what 6 of the cards are with the 2 in your hand and the 4 on board.
  • This leaves you with 46 unknown cards left in the deck.
  • 14 of these cards will make you a straight or a flush.
  • There is 1 more card to come, the River.
  • The odds of making your hand are 14 out of 46, or about a 1 in 3.3 chance.

This calculation would be different if the hand used in the example had not yet seen the Turn because you would then have 2 chances to make your hand.

Pot Odds

Now we can take a look at Pot Odds. Let’s say that there is $100 in the pot and you have to call a $20 bet. This is an obvious call because you are getting 5 to 1 on your money on a draw that you will hit 1 out of every 3.3 times. If the pot had only $50 in it and you had to call $20, pot odds suggest that you should not call because you are getting 2.5 to 1 on your money with higher odds against you making a hand and winning the pot.

Pot Odds are a big part of the mathematics of poker that, if you understand it, helps you to make good decisions when you play poker. Playing poker is all about making decisions and understanding pot odds allows you to make good decisions most of the time. As you further develop your poker skills you will be using some more advanced techniques, that include bluffing and any reads that you have on your opponent.

To give you a clear definition of Pot Odds, it is the comparison of the amount you have to invest against the amount that you stand to win if you make your hand.

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