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Become Your Own Poker Odds Calculator

If you’re serious about winning poker hands, you’ll want to learn one of the most important things about the game. It’s something all pros know, and it’s something all mathematicians easily figure out when first starting the game of poker, based on a few simple variables. I’m talking about poker odds. You can’t rely on an online poker odds calculator when playing at the table with the boys or playing for money at a casino. And you can’t focus fully on your online game either if you’re always consulting a poker odds calculator website or program.

Many people may be thinking “Screw this, I’m not a numbers person!” Well, you are going to have to shed that agreement you have with yourself, because if you’re capable of performing the calculations necessary to navigate to this page, you’re capable of learning how to calculate poker odds. In other words, you better become a numbers person, because this is how poker is won (in addition to being an astute observer of people and patterns).

Luckily, it’s quite simple to learn how to do these calculations on your own using very simple math. It’s like they say: Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime. If you don’t have time to learn right now, here’s a fish to keep you satisfied for the day (a poker odds chart). Otherwise, read on.

We’ll use Texas Hold 'Em as an example in calculating poker odds, as it is the most popular poker game presently. You can figure out the formulas for other games by yourself after you learn the basics.

Pot Odds

Pot odds are the odds you get when comparing the odds of making your hand to the size of the pot. If your chance of winning is somewhat higher than the ratio of the pot size to a bet, then you have good pot odds. These odds are used to help you determine whether or not it is worth it to call the bet. To calculate pot odds, we use simple division. To begin with, let’s use this example:

The pot contains $25 and the bet to call is $5. The pot to bet ratio would therefore be 25/5, which can be simplified to 5/1, or 5 to 1.

Odds of Making Your Hand

To help determine whether it is worth it to call a bet, we compare the pot odds to the odds against your hand. To figure out the odds of your hand you do this:

Let’s say you have two hole cards and there are three on the board. You’ll first need to figure out how many unseen cards there are. The simple formula in this instance would be: 52 (cards in the deck) minus 5 (seen cards), 52-5=47. Now, out of those 47 unseen cards, there are your “outs” (the number of unseen cards left in a deck that you need to make your hand) and the other cards you don't need. If, for example, after the flop you have a gutshot straight (a straight with a middle card missing from the sequence), you have four outs that could make your straight. That means you have 43 cards you don't need.

Therefore, the ratio of cards you don’t need to cards you need is 43/4 (43 to 4) or about 10.75/1 (10.75 to 1).

Comparing Poker Odds

So how do you combine these odds to determine whether you should make your move? If the pot odds are higher than the odds against making your hand, you should call the bet.

Bet Odds and Implied Odds

These poker odds are a bit tougher to calculate. These are the odds you get as a result of evaluating the number of callers to a raise. The only thing is, they rely on the reactions of other players and assume the number of betters that will call, so there’s a bit of guesswork involved here. With bet odds, you try to determine how many people are going to call or raise, while with implied odds, you’re thinking about player reactions over the long term, for the rest of the hand. Let’s look at another example to demonstrate these odds.

Let’s say the pot is at $50. One player bets on the flop, and everyone else folds. You have a set, and you’re looking to make a full house. First you’ll want to figure out your chance of hitting your full house on the turn, and it comes out to about 15% or odds of 5.7 to 1. So let’s say it’s a $5 bet vs. a $50 pot. That’s a payout of 10 times what you’ll put in for that bet. Since 5.7 to 1 is better than 1 to 10, these are alright odds, but you still have to consider whether this player is going to bet on the turn and the river as well. If they did, all in all, that would come to $25. Now you have to take into account your chances of hitting that full house on the river if you don’t get it on the turn. The odds of this come to about 22% or 3.6 to 1, but you have to invest $25 for an end pot of $100. That’s odds of 1 to 4. You'll have a 15% chance of hitting the full house on the river, if you don’t already have it (odds of 5.7 to 1). So the odds would no longer be in your favor if you didn’t hit your full house on the turn. It becomes even more complicated if you raise the player back before the turn and get more money in the pot.

If all this seems complicated, just try to practice it a little next time you play and eventually you’ll get the hang of it. Once you get the hang of outs and pot odds, bet and implied odds aren’t much steeper of an incline along your poker odds learning path. You’ll be a walking poker odds calculator before you know it!


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