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Top Tips for Pot Odds Strategy


Pot odds are the ratio of the size of a pot in relation to the amount of a call.
Let's start by defining what pot odds are:

By learning how pot odds work and how to include this calculation in your poker game, you will be able to make better decisions – ones that win you more pots and bigger pots.


Getting Down to the Odds of the Matter


At the heart of Pot Odds is the concept of probability. So, we'll start our journey into the world of pot odds by getting to grips with the mathematical concept.


As we have already stated, pot odds are the ratio of the size of a pot in relation to the amount of a call.


Let's address this in a simple heads-up poker scenario for easier understanding:


            Size of pot:                  $200

            Player A bets:             $400

            Current pot size:       $600


In this situation, Player B would have to call $400 to continue in the hand.


With no prior contributions to the pot, Player B would stand to collect a total of  $1,000, should they win the hand – and assuming no further betting.


            Current pot size:        $600

            Player B calls:             $400

            Final pot size:             $1,000


In the above example, Player B must call $400 to win $1,000. Therefore, their Pot Odds are 1000 to 400 or 5 to 2, which is also sometimes written as, 5:2.


When you're calculating Pot Odds, this root ratio is what you need to make profitable poker decisions. It bridges the amount of money you must call to the chances or probability of winning a hand.


Getting the right pot odds to make the proper call is the crux of poker strategy and something that separates winning poker from losing poker.


Combining Pot Odds with Hand Odds


Now that Player B has calculated their pot odds, how does that help them make decide whether to make the call, raise the bet or even fold?


Player B has KJ on a board of 8109.


We can use the Rule of 4 & 2 to quickly calculate just what the odds of making our draw by the river card. In this instance, Player B has flush and straight draws.


How many outs does Player B have to make the flush? 9 cards (outs) for the flush


How many do they have to make the straight? Another 8 outs for the straight – making a grand total of 17 outs.


However, here we must be very careful. With the 7 and the Q counting as straight and flush outs, we can only count them in one category. After all, there are only one of each these cards in a standard deck! Therefore, the total number of real outs would be 15 – not 17.


Using the Rule of 4 and 2, Player B can determine the odds of making either draw by the river:


15 outs x 4 (Rule of 4 and 2 turn multiplier) = 60%


By converting this percentage to a fraction, we'll be able to compare our pot odds with our hand odds:


60/100 = times we will make our draw

40/100 = times we will miss our draw


Hand odds = 60 (for): 40 (against)


We can break down this ratio of 60:40 to its simplest denomination by dividing both equally until we get down to the lowest whole number on both sides.


In this case, the lowest format would be 3:2.


Using Pot Odds to Make the Right Play


By comparing our pot odds with our odds of making the draw, we can determine how to react to Player A's pot-sized bet.


Our pot odds are 5:2 and our hand/drawing odds are 3:2. So, in this example, the pot odds exceed the odds of making our draw.


The general rule state that when pot odds are greater than the hand odds, you will have Pot Odds to make the call and even raise, on occasion.


In this situation, Player B does have the right odds to call Player A's bet – and possibly even raise the bet.


With so many outs to make our hand, staying in it – at the very least - is a no-brainer!