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Poker Pot Odds

Mon 03 July 2017 Poker Pot Odds

How does this relate to poker odds? Suppose you have two Vs, and you get two more on the flop. You know that the odds of making the flush are about one out of three, or 2:1. For your flush draw to be profitable, the pot must be paying you odds of better than 2:1.

Keep in mind, though, that this calculation assumes that making the flush is the only way you can win. In real life, you'll often win without making the flush. Either you'll pair one of your hole cards, or you'll make a backdoor straight, or by you'll just have the highest card at the end of the hand. Maybe you'll even just bet as a bluff and not get called.

If you flop a four-flush, you have nine outs. Your exact chances of making the hand are 35%, or slightly better than 2:1 against. If you flop an open-end straight draw, you have eight outs, and your chances of making the straight are 31.5%, slightly worse than 2:1 against. I tell you this because practically speaking, you can look at both of these draws as having the same odds: 2:1 against. You have to do some rounding off in the actual game.

If your opponent bets $6 and you're going to call, you have to call $6, not the $5.82 or the $6.13 that your hand might theoretically be worth. In most instances, "close enough" is good enough if you know that's your situation.

Recall the chapter on dominated hands. Many of the dominated hands were 4:1 underdogs-their chances of winning against the other hand were only between 18% and 21%. I'll bet that chapter left you with the impression that you should never play one of these hands, right?

Notice, though, that I carefully and deliberately did not make any recommendations about playing or not playing the hands. I want you to know that most of those dominated hands are great hands to play-under the right conditions. What do you think I mean by "the right conditions?" I mean that you have to have the right pot odds to play the hand.

If you're playing a hand that's a 4:1 underdog, you need pot odds of at least 4:1 just to break even in the long run. You might call a bet and lose four times, but then you'll win those bets back on the fifth time, when you win the hand (on average, in the long run).

Playing to break even in the long run is, of course, not exactly the way to play winning poker. You always want more than the bare minimum number of necessary bets in the pot in order to play a hand. Extra bets mean better pot odds. Having better pot odds is called an overlay. As a poker player, you're always looking for a spot to put your money in play where you have an overlay. If you stick to playing good, high cards for your position, and you play in a game where you can consistently get five or more players to play most pots, you're practically guaranteed to have a positive hourly rate and be a winner in the long run.

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