Poker Odds

Have you ever wondered how the best poker players seem to consistently win over the years? Well a large reason for their success is that these players know how to calculate basic poker odds on the spot. Those who experience long-term success have no trouble counting their outs, calculating pot odds or figuring their implied odds. If you’re hoping to take the next step towards long-term poker success, here is a look at how to calculate basic poker odds.

Counting Outs In Poker

Unlike pot odds or implied odds, counting “outs” doesn’t involve much math. Instead, counting outs is just as it sounds - you count. The purpose of counting outs is to find out how many cards are left in the deck that will give you a hand capable of winning.

For example, let’s say that you have a pair, and you’re hoping to improve to a set; seeing as how there are four suits of every card in the deck, there are 2 cards, or outs, left that give you a set. If you hold 4-5 on a board of 6-7-J (open-ended straight draw), you have eight outs to make the straight because there are four 3’s and four 8’s that you haven’t seen yet. For practical purposes, here are the most common amount of outs you’ll come across: pair looking to hit a set (2 outs), flush draw (9 outs), inside straight draw (4 outs), open-ended straight draw (8 outs).

Sometimes you’ll run into confusing situations where you have multiple options such as an open-ended straight and flush draw. In this instance, you would have 15 outs because two of your open-ended straight draw outs are also going to be the same suit as the flush draw outs - i.e. with 4s-5s-6s-7s, 3s and 8s are outs for both the flush and straight draw.

One more thing to be aware of when counting outs is that you need to make sure they’re all “true outs,” or outs that will only improve your hand. To illustrate how this works, let’s say you hold 6c-7d and the board reads 4h-5h-Qs; you would normally have eight outs here with a open-ended straight draw, but since two of your outs (3h, 8h) could give an opponent a flush, the aren’t really true outs.

Poker Pot Odds

While there are a lot of intricacies and concepts you need to know to be a successful poker player, just knowing pot odds will go a long way towards making you a better player. And the first thing you should know about pot odds is that this term simply refers to the amount of money in the pot compared to what you must call.

For example, let’s say the pot is $40 and your opponent makes a $10 raise; the pot is now $50 and you must contribute $10, so you are being given 5:1 pot odds. This in itself is not going to help you out a whole lot. That’s where the second part of pot odds comes in handy because you can use this number to decide whether or not to call based on your chances of hitting a drawing hand.

Let’s assume you hold Ks-Js in the hand with 5:1 pot odds, and the flop is 3d-As-5s; this gives you eight outs. Seeing as how there are 52 cards in the deck and you’ve already seen 5 of them, there are still 47 cards that you haven’t seen. And since you’re on a flush draw (9 outs), 38 of these cards won’t help you, so you are left with 38:9 odds of hitting the drawing hand (around 4:1 odds).

Since your pot odds are 5:1, it would be a smart decision to call in this scenario because you have 4:1 odds of winning. In other words, your chances of winning are higher than the percentage you must commit to the pot.

Now some people find that expressing pot odds in terms of ratios is confusing (not to mention difficult to do in real-time); these players prefer to express their pot odds in a percentage instead. So if you had to call $10 in a $50 pot, you would be contributing 17% to the pot.

To get your chances of winning the hand this way, you simply multiply your outs by 2, then add 1. So if you had an inside straight draw, your formula would look like this: (4 outs X 2) + 1 = 9% chance of winning the hand. Since the amount you‘re contributing to the pot is much higher than your chances of winning, you should fold here.

Understanding Implied Odds

Pot odds are great because they show you whether or not a certain call is profitable long-term. But if you hit your hand on the turn, there’s a very good chance that you’re going to get more money than what’s currently in the pot. So you should adjust to include possible future bets, and this is the basis behind implied odds.

To show how to calculate implied odds, let’s assume you have an open-ended straight draw, and that you are facing a $15 call in a $65 pot. Here your pot odds are 4.25:1 and your chance of hitting the open-ended straight draw is around 5:1; obviously this situation warrants a fold using pot odds.

But what if you’re the last player to call on the flop and you hit your straight draw; if there are two players left in the pot, you can squeeze money out of them on the turn and river. Assuming you can get at least one of these players to stay in the hand with you until the showdown, you could potentially get them to call a $15 raise on the turn and a $30 raise on the river. This is an extra $45 (or more), which brings the current pot on the flop up to $110. After doing the math, this brings your pot odds to around 7:1, which makes your 5:1 chances of hitting the hand worth calling.

Implied odds are useful because they allow you to play more hands, and hopefully make more money. On the downside though, they are merely an estimation, and there’s no way to know for sure whether or not one of the two aforementioned players would call $45 in bets.

One more thing worth noting is that you also have to worry about reverse implied odds, or the chance that you could hit your hand and still lose. As a general rule of thumb, if the board shows a potentially better hand that what you have - like a full house possibility when you have a set - you should stick to pot odds and not worry about implied odds.

Overall though, implied odds are a very useful tool along with pot odds and counting outs. Thoroughly knowing these three concepts will improve your poker game immensely!

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