How to Calculate Pot Odds in Texas Holdem Poker
When faced with a drawing situation after the flop hits the board in Texas Hold’em, successful poker players will always calculate the pot odds to determine whether to continue playing the hand and seeing the turn and river cards.
In assessing the pot odds, we are calculating the amount of money that can be won in relation to the amount needed to bet or call in order to have a chance at drawing the cards needed to win the hand.
Outs Must Come First
Before determining the pot odds, the number of “outs” must be tallied. In other words, the number of cards remaining in the deck that will make our hand a winner if one of those outs were to come on the turn or river.
For instance, if we are holding Kh-9h from the big blind and the flop reveals 7h-5c-2h, we are needing just one more heart to catch a King high flush and a most probable winner. With 13 hearts in the deck and four already exposed from two hearts on the board and two in our hand, nine hearts remain giving us 9 outs.
Rule of 4 and 2
A simple formula of multiplying the outs by 4 post-flop gives us our percentage of possibly hitting the heart we need for the flush on the turn or river. Nine x 4 = 36 so our likelihood of making the flush is 36%.
If the turn card is not the heart we need, our percentage to catch our winning hand becomes lower and we multiply our outs by only 2 to obtain the new percentage probability of seeing another heart, which is now cut in half to 18% (9 outs times 2). This formula is called the rule of 4 and 2.
Calculating the Pot Odds
The pot odds are then calculated by taking the total amount of the pot and dividing that by the amount needed to call the bet and attempt to draw a heart for the flush. Let’s say we are playing small stakes of $1/2. Before the flop, the pot was raised to $4 by a late position player after all the players acting before him folded.
The small blind called by adding $3 into the pot and you also matched your big blind by tossing another $2 into the pot with your Kh-9h in the hole. With $12 in the pot, the small blind and you check and the late position player bets $6–half the pot.
The small blind calls, making the pot total $24 and requiring you to decide if you want to play for $6 drawing to a King high heart flush. Here is where you determine the pot odds.
Pot Odds Formula
Simply divide the total pot ($24) by the amount required to call the bet ($6) and you come up with 4 to 1 pot odds. This tells us that we would break even in such a situation by winning the hand one time to every four times that we don’t catch the flush and lose.
To put this in percentages and compare it to our probability of hitting the outs we need to win, we must take 100% and divide it by the 4 to 1 pot odds added together (4 + 1 = 5). Therefore 100% divided by 5 = 20%.
How to Use Pot Odds
Now, going back to our outs calculation of 36% probability of hitting the flush post-flop, we can determine that it is a good bet to make this call because our probability of making the flush is greater than our break even point (36% to 20%). This is a profitable scenario according to the pot odds.
As a matter of fact, an aggressive player would consider raising in this situation and possibly knocking out the small blind and even the late position raiser whose hand probably did not improve on the poor-looking flop of 7h-5c-2h.
That is how pot odds are determined in establishing whether or not it is profitable to continue drawing to possible winning hands post-flop. Basically, if the probability of drawing a winning hand is higher than the pot odds break even point, you should continue playing the hand–sometimes aggressively depending on the situation–because to do so will be profitable over the long haul.
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