Pot Odds: What they are and how to calculate them

The calculation of pot odds is one of the fundamental elements for successful poker. The secret is to know how to calculate them quickly.

Texas Hold’em is a game in which mathematics is of particular importance, almost decisive for the success of a single hand or an entire tournament.

The more experienced players know that, being poker a game in which you go in search of a project, you need to know what are the chances of getting out of any situation by considering the cards we have in hand and also the community cards that could come out.

After explaining how to count outs in a previous article, now is the time to understand what is meant when it comes to Pot Odds, another important aspect of the game that concerns the chances of success of a single hand.

For the calculation of Pot Odds you don’t need to be a mathematical expert, the techniques are quite simple and to make them an oiled mechanism, you just need to accumulate the right experience at the table and immediate calculation.

First we need to ask ourselves three questions:

1 – How many chips are in the pot?
2 – How many chips do we have to put in the Pot to continue playing?
3 – What are our chances of success?

In principle, there is a basic rule regarding pot odds: it is convenient to continue the game if the odds that the pot offers us are greater than the odds in our hand.

Let’s try a concrete example to better explain what we mean by the previous sentence.
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We are playing a cash game with $ 2 / $ 4 No Limit levels. One player raises $ 13, another calls and you call from the button with J-10 of clubs. The flop is 7-8-A with A and 7 of clubs. So a hand that doesn’t give you any points at the moment, but that could give you great satisfaction in the following. The pot, at the moment, has a whopping $ 45.

The first player bets $ 20, the second player calls and the ball comes back to you. What is more correct to do in this case?

Let’s calculate the pot odds. The pot is $ 79 ($ 13 + $ 13 + $ 13 + $ 20 + $ 20), and you have to pay $ 20 to win $ 79, which is approximately 4 to 1 in odds for your play.

We have just answered questions 1) and 2), i.e. the amount of chips on the pot and those to be added to continue playing. Let’s go now to see the outs, or the cards with which you can close your project or in any case have a point: you have a flush and straight flush draw, which provides you with 12 good outs to close one of the two points, specifically 9 for the color project and 3 for the interlocking staircase.

It is fair to reiterate that in this case we consider only 3 cards and not 4 for the interlocking, since the 9 of clubs is part of the flush draw and it is therefore a mistake to count it twice.

As you can see, we have also answered the third question, namely that relating to our chances of success in this hand. Now let’s brush up on some healthy math. You know 5 of the 52 cards in the deck; it means that there are still 47 unknown cards, of which 12 will allow you to win the hit with a flush or a straight. Just make a simple division, or 47:12 to find the odds, which will be almost 4 to 1. To be precise, 3.9 to 1.

To justify our call, the pot should be at least 3.9 to 1, but as we saw earlier this was just 4 to 1; this means that the call has a positive expected value (EV).

We have therefore seen that calculating pot odds is not an impossible task, and you can be sure that in many cases it will help you make the best decisions.

What we have considered so far is the correctness of the pot odds in the immediate future. There are however cases in which it is advantageous to see a bet even if these are not correct.

These represent the type of odds that take into account future bets that could occur later, and therefore justify a call regardless of the negative initial odds. In practice, it is a matter of predicting how the hand could evolve and then understanding how profitable it can be to spend in perspective to have good play in a single hand.

For example, you are on the flop and to continue playing you should pay too high a sum, not justified by your chances of winning.

You realize that if you tie your draw, this would allow you to take away many chips from your opponents.

In these cases the call would still be correct since in the future it could prove to be very profitable.

Playing for Implied Odds

When you play Hold’em you play projects continuously. We must keep present both types of odds, both “immediate” and “implied” to play in a winning way.

Immediate odds are easy to calculate. If the odds against you are better than 3.5 to 1 then you are right to see. The problem is instead when the odds are not so clear and the implied odds must therefore be called into question, since these are not so simple to calculate.

The implied odds are the odds that also take into consideration the bets that will be made in the following phases of the same hand.

For example, if you call with $ 10 on the turn in a $ 30 pot, your odds include both the immediate odds of 3 to 1 as well as the implied odds of the subsequent betting phase on the river.
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The problem with implied odds is that you never know exactly what the next betting round will look like. You can manage to make plans and then having to bet and maybe raise cautiously so as not to make the opponents suspicious. Or you can make the draw and make a very high bet in hopes of winning your opponents.

To evaluate implied odds more accurately there are many factors to consider.

How do opponents play? Are they TAG (tight-aggressive) players? Are they players who reflect a lot or are impulsive?

A good way to answer these questions is to always study your opponents to understand how they behave at different stages of the game based on the cards they have in their hand.

Only in this way can possible future actions, at the basis of the calculation of implied odds, be assessed more clearly.

By doing so, it will be much easier to understand how an opponent reacts, both in the event that the project is made, both in that in which he fails and knowing the reactions and possible actions of the opponents you can win much higher amounts of money.