Calculating Pot Odds

Calculating Pot Odds is a fundamental tool every poker player needs to know if he or she wishes to make money consistently. The general principle in this is determining whether the odds of you making your winning hand are greater than the monetary odds of the pot. In other words, how much money is the pot offering, compared to the amount of money you have to pay to continue.

To establish whether to call a bet, or fold, some simple calculations are necessary. After a short time you will find yourself just knowing the odds by heart anyway, reducing the need to calculate.

Step 1. The first part of this procedure is to calculate your ‘outs’ and thus determine the chances of you making your winning poker hand.

Let’s consider the example below, where we have already seen the flop.

You don’t have a hand as yet. But you have 4 spades, and still have the turn and river cards to see. So there is certainly a possibility of making your flush. When calculating pot odds we consider each round of betting separately, as they come around. Which means for this round, we only need to know what the odds are of seeing a spade with the next community card, the turn.

Let’s count our outs. That is, let’s count the number of spades left in the deck. There are 4 we can see, and there are 13 spades in total, leaving 9 left in the deck. So we have 9 outs.

To get our odds, we divide the number of our outs by the number of unknown cards. In this case there are 47 cards we haven’t seen (52 – 5 = 47). Just note, it’s not mathematically relevant to consider the cards held by other players, or the burn card before the flop. So at this stage of the game, you will always divide your outs by 47 no matter the number of players.

So the odds of us making a flush on the turn are: 9/47 = 0.191… or 19%

Since dividing by a prime number isn’t particularly fun, we can shortcut this by rounding it up to 50. Dividing a number by 50 and turning it into a percentage is the same as just doubling it. We can increase the accuracy of this rounding by adding a further 1 unit for outs greater than 3. For our example above that would be (9 X 2) + 1 = 19%

So the rule summarized is:

*This same rule can be applied to the River card.

Step 2. Next we need to calculate the Pot Odds.

If the pot size is currently $100, and your opponent bets $50, then you will need to pay $50 in order to potentially win $150. This means with your $50 call, you are getting 3:1 odds. Said another way, you need to win once for every 3 loses in order remain even. So your pot odds are 25%.

This may at first seem like a complicated calculation for random pot sizes and bets, but really, all we need to do here is conclude whether it’s larger or smaller than our Odds of getting our desired card. This can often be done without any real calculation.

Step 3. Call or fold? Basically we need to determine if the size of the pot justifies us calling, with the cards we currently have.

So we now have our card Odds and we have our Pot Odds. Statistically you should only call if your card Odds > Pot Odds.

In the example we have been using, we have a 19% chance of drawing a flush. And we have 3:1 odds (25%) on the pot.

19% is not greater 25%. We should fold

Poker Hand Odds Chart – Texas Holde’em Poker

Outs One Card % Two Card % One
Draw Type
1 2% 4% 46 23 Backdoor Straight or Flush (Requires two cards)
2 4% 8% 22 12 Pocket Pair to 3 of a kind
3 7% 13% 14 7 One Overcard
4 9% 17% 10 5 Inside Straight / Two Pair to Full House
5 11% 20% 8 4 One Pair to Two Pair or Set
6 13% 24% 6.7 3.2 No Pair to Pair / Two Overcards
7 15% 28% 5.6 2.6 Set to Full House or Quads
8 17% 32% 4.7 2.2 Open Straight
9 19% 35% 4.1 1.9 Flush
10 22% 38% 3.6 1.6 Inside Straight & Two Overcards
11 24% 42% 3.2 1.4 Open Straight & One Overcard
12 26% 45% 2.8 1.2 Flush & Inside Straight / Flush & One Overcard
13 28% 48% 2.5 1.1
14 30% 51% 2.3 0.95
15 33% 54% 2.1 0.85 Flush & Open Straight / Flush & Two Overcards
16 34% 57% 1.9 0.75
17 37% 60% 1.7 0.66

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