Pot odds is the most fundamental part of each player's poker strategy. If you do not know poker pot odds you should not play poker. If you have just finished learning the rules of Texas Hold'em you definitely should learn to use poker pot odds before moving to the rest of our Texas Hold'em articles. Poker pot odds is the tool good players use to justify a call of a bet. In most poker games you will have one out of three situations:
The first situation is when you get to the flop and you are without a doubt beaten. If you get into a flop with a QhJh and the flop turns to be Ac5c9d you definitely have nothing and you should check and fold without hesitating.
The second situation is when you have the strongest possible hand on the flop. If you get to the flop with KcQc and the flop is Kd7h2c you definitely hold a strong hand and should either bet or raise. In this case the 'right' move is quite clear and depends mostly on the game you are in and your read on your opponents.
The third situation is where the poker pot odds help you determine whether you should call or fold - when you do not have a hand yet but you have a possible draw that will form a strong hand. For example, you are entering the pot with the same KcQc and the flop shows a 7c10c5d. Although you do not have any hand at the moment you have a good chance to draw a flush, or to draw a king or a queen and get a top pair. Here is where pot odds comes into play.
Pot odds is quite a simple tool, it basically measures your chances to form a strong hand, the amount of money you risk and the amount of money you can potentially win. Poker pot odds do not necessarily predict the outcome of each and every hand but it gives you a very good outlook on the profitability of an action on the long run.
Using poker pot odds is quite easy. Let's take the following hand as example – you enter a pot with a KhQh. The flop shows Jd10c5s. At the moment you have an open straight draw. In this situation you have 8 out cards (cards that will help you form your hand) – 4 Aces and 4 9's. Next comes calculating your chance on hitting those cards on the turn (and generally on the next card). This is done quite easily, you just take the number of outs you have, multiply it by two and add one. This gives you approximately the percentage to hit the cards you need. In this case it is (8X2 1=17).
Now that you know what are you chances to form the hand you need on the next round you can determine what the maximal bet you can call is. That is done by adding the bet you will put into the pot to the existing pot and compare it to your chances to draw. Let's say that in this scenario the pot is 90 dollars and the bet to you is 10. This means that the pot is 100 and your share in it is (10/100). Your chances to draw are . As long as your chances to draw are bigger than your share in the pot you can call the bet, so in this case you can definitely call (17>10). If the bet to you was 20 you would had to fold.
Denis Mason, Editor