Introduction to Poker Pot Odds

Pot odds allow poker players to judge the value of their hand in relation to the money in the middle. Pot odds are incredibly important to poker players and can be an extremely valuable tool is they are used correctly. The reality is that pot odds should be a factor in your hand to hand decisions, but they shouldn’t be the only factor.

Pot odds become useful when you are in a hand where you are looking to judge your equity. One of the best times to implement pot odds is when considering whether or not to call an all in when on a draw. You will usually be behind when you shove your entire stack in on a draw, but your hand’s potential strength will help to determine what your pot odds are.

Are you going to be profitable if you call a $40 bet to win a $100 pot if your odds are 1:8? Of course not, the pot would need to be over $320 for this call to be profitable. Analyzing a hand and the corresponding pot odds is much easier than most people make it out to be.

Calculating Pot Odds

The basis for every calculation of pot odds is hand reading. If you are unable to put your opponent on a somewhat defined range of hands you will be hard pressed to accurately gauge your pot odds. After all, what use is estimating how often you will win if you don’t know what you can reasonably expect to beat? This leads into what pot odds really are. There is no science to estimating pot odds; it is more like a fine art. The paint doesn’t do you much good if you don’t have the skills to paint a realistic picture. The paint in a hand of poker would be the odds; the skills to paint a picture are your hand reading abilities.

Let’s take a look at an example to help illustrate how to properly calculate pot odds.

Pretend you are in a raised pot and are now heads up against one opponent on the turn. You are playing in a .50/1 No Limit Hold’em game and have an over pair to the board. Your opponent is a bit tight and the board makes both a flush and a straight possible.

If you bet the turn with QQ on a board of Js 8s Td 6s will it make sense to call if they shove all in? Well we need to take a look at how much it will cost to call and how much we can potentially win. If we have invested a lot of money into the pot already it is possible that we will be priced into a call, but if we had played it somewhat passively we might be able to throw our hand away. We make the turn bet and the other player goes all in for $80 more dollars.

The pot is now $130. We would have to call $80 to win $130, our odds at this point are 80:130. For us to be profitable we will need to be ahead more than 80 times out of every 130 similar situations. We are basically at 1:1.5 which means that we need to have the best hand better than every other time, and almost two out of three times. The odds are that we won’t have the best hand the majority of the time so we can safely make the fold.