Texas Hold'Em Poker Pot Odds

Texas Holdem poker is a game of probability. While you can become a decent poker player without really understanding the odds behind the game, to become a good or great player you must make decisions based on probability and not just intuition.? One of the toughest decisions in holdem occurs when you think you are beat by the other players, yet you aren't sure if you should pay to see one more card on the turn or river. In this article we give an introduction to the concept of pot odds, a technology that will help you make the right decision.

Drawing to Outs

To understand pot odds in holdem you must first understand what it means to draw to an out. Suppose you hold? JT of diamonds and two more diamonds come on the flop giving you a flush draw. There's a bet and the action comes to you. Before deciding if you should raise, fold, or just call, you need to calculate the number of outs you currently have.

Right now you have no pair and your hand makes a mere jack high. The turn and the river still remain though so your hand has a chance for improvement. Notably, you have a flush draw, and you are likely to win the? pot if a diamond is turned over. How many diamonds remain in the deck? There are 13 diamonds? in the? deck, two are in your hand and two are on the table. That makes nine diamonds left out of 52 - 2 cards in your hand - 3 cards on the table = 47 cards that you have not seen. Therefore you have a 9/47 chance of hitting a diamond on the turn, about? a one in five chance.

There are other cards that improve your hand. You could get a? jack or a ten on the turn and make a pair. Whether these are outs though depends on the cards other players hold. If an ace has fallen on the flop and you are bet into, you can surmise that at least one player holds an ace. Therefore a pair of jacks or a pair of tens will not be good enough to win the hand and should not be counted as outs. You would have to hit runner-runner jack / ten on the turn and river to beat a pair of aces which is not likely to happen. Therefore you decide you have exactly nine outs, the nine diamonds remaining.

Calculating Pot Odds

Knowing that you have nine outs in the deck doesn't necessarily mean you should call. It means you have to do some more analysis to determine the right decision. Your action will depend on the amount of your bet versus the amount of money in the pot. Dividing the amount of your bet by the size of the pot will yield what is known as pot odds.

Suppose the best to you is $4 and there's already $50 in the pot. You are left with the choice of calling $4 for the chance to win $50. Therefore, your pot odds are 4/50. So should you call or fold? ? Remember that you have a 9/47 chance of hitting your out on the next card. Since the chance of you hitting your out is greater than the pot odds (9/47 > 4/50) you should definitely call the best. You will make money in the long term by calling when pot odds are in your favor and folding when they are not in your favor. When the odds of you drawing an out are greater than the pot odds you should call. When the odds of you drawing an out are less than the pot odds you should fold.

More Pot Odds

Now let's deal with a different situation. You are dealt 77 and the flop misses you, leaving you with only a pair of sevens. Two overcards are on the board and there's betting, leading you to believe that you're currently beat. The bet is $4 to you, and this time the pot is $60. Should you call the bet?

You have two outs left (both sevens) out of 47 cards. That means your odds of drawing an out stand at 2/47 (.043).? The pot odds you are given stand at 4/60, or equivalently 1/15 (.067). In this case the pot odds are greater than your odds of drawing an out - you will be paid 15 times your bet if you hit an out, yet your chances of making an out are less than 1/15. Therefore you should fold.

Calculating Pot Odds on the Fly

If you aren't accustomed to dealing with the math behind poker, it may be infeasible for you to count your outs and calculate your pot odds during the course of your hand. Try just counting your outs to practice, and then work on calculating pot odds. If it helps you can think of pot odds as a ratio rather than a fraction, ex. $4 call into a $60 pot means the pot odds are 4:60. Keep working on calculating pot odds and it will become second nature.

Implied odds? are an advanced concept that? you will need to learn once you master pot odds. Here are a few good Usenet posts that illustrate pot odds:

Pot Odds Question and Answer

More on Pot Odds

Expressing Pot Odds