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Calculating Pot Odds on Drawing Hands

After the flop comes, you will typically find yourself face with one of three situations. Either you totally missed the board, in which case you will mostly likely check and fold unless you have a compelling reason to try and bluff your opponents. Or you could have hit the flop well and be holding a strong hand, such as top pair with top kicker or an over-pair. In that case, you will generally bet or raise.

In many cases, however, you will hold a drawing hand, such as an open-ended straight, two over cards or a flush draw. These are known as “drawing” hands because while you currently do not hold a strong hand, it is possible for you to make a very strong hand if the poker gods cooperate and bring you your needed “out” on the turn or the river. An out is a card that will improve your hand.

When you are drawing – or for that matter whenever you are faced with the decision whether to call or fold to a bet – an important tool that can assist you in your decision-making is to calculate the “pot odds” and compare it to your odds of making your hand. In other words, you determine if the odds of winning the money in the pot (“pot odds”) equal or exceed the odds of you receiving the cards you need for a winning hand (your “outs”). This will guide you to only making bets that will pay off in the long run.
Calculating pot odds is fairly simple. Quickly making such calculations regarding the favorability of the pot odds you face is essential to a long-term winning strategy.

First, you must count the number of outs you have. Let’s look at an example. Let’s say you hold Jh10h and the flop comes Qs9d6c. In this case, any one of the 4 kings or 4 eights will make you a straight, meaning you’ve got eight outs in total. There are 47 unseen cards remaining so you’ve got an 8/47 or 17% chance of hitting on the next card. (One trick players often use to simplify the calculation is to tale the number of out times 2 and then add 1 – in this situation with 8 outs, you would get 8 x 2 = 16 + 1 = 17, a roughly 17% chance of hitting on the turn.) Since the odds of hitting on the river would then be 8/46 or approximately 17% also, your odds of drawing on either the turn or the river are 34%.

calculate-poker Next, you must know how much money is in the pot. Online poker rooms, such as Full Tilt Poker and Titan Poker, have the amount of the pot displayed. Add the pot to the amount of the bet posted to you. For example, if the bet is $10 and the pot is $90, then pot + bet = $100.

Then, you can determine the maximum bet you can call by multiplying your chance of hitting a draw (34% in our example) by the value of the pot + the bet ($100 in our example). In this case, it’s $34, which means it is in your interest in the long run to make that call.

Of course, if you don’t hit on the turn, you need to re-calculate. Now, you’ve still got a 17% chance of getting one of your eight outs on the river. But the pot is now $110 ($90 pot plus the two $10 bets). Let’s say your opponent bets $30. So pot + bet = $140. 17% of $140 is around $24. This means that it is not in your interest to make that call in the long run.

Remember, to call, you must have better pot odds then your chance of winning. This ensures that your calls will be profitable in the long run if you hit. Applying this principle involves knowing how many outs you have and what percentage this gives you to win the hand. Who knew math could be this profitable?


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