Pot Odds Explained
Ask most amateur players about pot odds and they’ll probably raise their eyebrows, and then state that they don’t want to involve math in their poker playing. Ask a professional and you’ll get the opposite reaction though, as they’ll know that pot odds play a huge role in their success at the poker table, and also that the underlying math is not all that complicated. So, if you can master pot odds when playing Bitcoin poker, you’ll already have a massive advantage over the rest of the field.
Working Out Hand Odds
Before you can look at pot odds, you first need to work out your hand odds. These are essentially your odds of managing to improve your hand.
So, let’s assume that you have two clubs in your hand, and the flop comes down with two clubs as well, and the turn then doesn’t improve your hand. This means that you are one card away from getting a flush. But what are your chances of completing your hand on the river and being in a strong position?
Well, the chances are calculated by working out how many cards are remaining in the deck (which also includes your opponents’ cards, as they are unknown), and then working out how many ‘outs’ you have (‘outs’ being the number of cards that are available to complete your hand). So, in the above example, there are four cards on the table and two in your hand, meaning that 46 possible cards could come on the river. Of these, nine could be a club. This therefore means that your hand odds are 37/9, which can be simplified to around 4/1 or roughly 20%.
If you are facing a bet after the flop, meaning that there are two cards still to come, you can simply halve the odds to work out your hand odds. So, in the above example, your odds would then become 2/1 or roughly 33%. Remember to alter them if you miss on the turn though.
Working Out Pot Odds
Now you need to work out the pot odds, which is done by using the hand odds you’ve just calculated. You compare these odds with the amount you’ll win in your particular circumstance. As an example, let’s say that there’s $80 in the pot already, and your opponent just bet $20. This means that there will be $100 in total in the pot, and that it will cost you $20 to have a chance of winning it. This means that your pot odds are 100/20, which can be simplified to 5/1.
So, in the above situation, you should call the bet. Why? Because the pot odds are greater than the hand odds. This means that, if you played this hand four times, you’d end up spending $80, however you will win, on average, $100 in that time.
Of course, you can also use pot odds to decide not to call a bet. If the pot was only $50 and the opponent bet $20, this would mean you had pot odds of 70/2, which is 3.5/1 – lower than your hand’s odds. Therefore, you should fold, as you’ll lose in the long run.
Some Common Hand Odds to Remember
Every single hand you get can have odds worked out for it, but here are some of the more common situations where you’ll need to work out the odds, which assume that there are four cards already on the board:
- Open-ended straight draw: odds of 4.8/1
- Flush draw: odds of 4.1/1
- Inside straight draw: odds of 10.5/1
- Hitting overcards: odds of 6.7/1 (assuming both hole cards are higher than the board)
- Getting a set with pocket pairs: odds of 22/1
Don’t Just Rely on Pot Odds
Pot odds are incredibly important when playing Bitcoin poker, however they have to be used in conjunction with your skill as a poker player. After all, you still need to work out whether the opponent has a stronger hand than you, even if you manage to hit your draw. For example, you might hit that flush, but what if there are two pairs on the board? Could your opponent therefore have a full house? It’s situations like this that could make calling a bad idea, even if the odds are favourable.
But how can you work out what hand your opponent has? Well, part of this is down to intuition and experience, however you can also look at some other things. Perhaps the biggest consideration to make is your opponent’s pre-flop range, which tells you which starting hands they’ll play with, and which they won’t. So, if the first four community cards are 4-4-2-2 and there was a big raise before the flop, you can be pretty confident that they aren’t holding a four or a two, as they probably wouldn’t play starting hands that are this weak. You should be more concerned if the community cards are A-A-K-K though, as there’s a much better chance they hold at least one of them.
As the hand progresses, you can also alter your opinion on your opponent’s hand. For example, if you’re chasing a flush, which you then hit, what do you do if your opponent only increases their bet amounts? You have to make a decision on whether they have also hit a flush, and whether it is better than your one. If you are looking for some help when it comes to putting your player on a hand range, and the associated pot odds, you might find the Equilab tool to be useful, which can be found at PokerStrategy.com.