Pot Odds

Chris Wheeler | September 28, 2011

Pot OddsMany poker players claim to be all about instinct. They’re not worried about odds and percentages – they’ve got a good knowledge of the game and can rely on their gut-feel most of the time. The reality is that these players are putting themselves at a disadvantage.

Putting the time aside to learn how to calculate pot odds will not only add another powerful element to your poker-arsenal, but will give you an undisputed edge over those players mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Before you throw this article in the ‘too hard’ basket, slow down a minute. Neither the principle behind pot odds, nor the process of working them out, is nearly as difficult as you might expect.

Pot Odds – What are they?

Pot Odds calls the law of averages into play, rather than blind luck, to determine whether or not calling an opponent’s bet will likely be a profitable decision. In other words, when applying the calculation of pot odds to your game you are working out your chances of winning the hand and then weighing these chances up against what it is going to cost you to stay in the hand.

This means that the next time you find yourself sitting on a flush or straight draw, you’ll be able to work out whether to call or fold based on the size of your opponent’s bets.

Working out pot odds

There are two ways that Pot Odds can be calculated.

  1. The Ratio Method
  2. The Percentage Method

We can talk about gut-feels and instincts all day, but the reality is that if you base all of your drawing decisions on pot odds rather than what ‘feels right’, you’re going to win more money over the course of time.

Pot odds aren’t just useful when it comes to making calls either. If you’re smart, you can use them to help you decide how much to bet in order to protect a made hand.

If you think an opponent is drawing to a straight or a flush, then you should try and bet an amount that will leave him having to call a greater percentage of the pot than his percentage chance of completing their draw. By doing that, you are giving them every logical reason to fold. Sure, once in a while they might decide to make the call and once in a while they might get lucky. But over the course of time, pot odds will reign supreme – and so will you.