Pot odds are the ratio of the current size of the pot relative to the cost or amount of the call. Once you’ve managed the basics of poker, pot odds will become a necessary tool in expanding your game and helping you make proper decisions. The best way to explain pot odds definition is by showing some examples.
Let’s start with a very simple example. Say there is $40 in the pot and player one bets $10 into the pot. Now the pot contains $50 and player two must call $10 to stay in the hand. The player calling (player two) will win at least $50 if they make their draw. So with $10 to call to win $50, the pot odds are $50 to $10 or 5 to 1 (5:1). Easy! The next part is a bit trickier for the novice.
Now one compares the probability of winning the hand to the call’s expected value. If the pot odds are greater or equal to the odds of winning the hand then a player can decide to proceed in the hand or “make the call”.
A person said to “have pot odds” when the pot odds at the time of the call compared to their proposed or estimated chance of winning will make the call profitable.
Next let’s look at the odds of making the winning hand when you are on a draw. After the flop, when a player is on a flush draw assuming the flush will be the winning hand they have 9 outs to make the flush or a 35% (34.97%) chance of winning the hand by the river.
This means that the player on the draw should be looking for a situation where they are getting at least 1.86 to 1 for the call, so if the pot contains more than 1.86 times (we can round to 2X) the bet, the call will have a profitable expected value.
Player A bets $100 into a $200 pot, Player B is holding a nut flush draw on the flop where the amount to call is $100, so there will be at least 300 in the pot.
The pot odds are 3 to 1 or Player B needs at least a 3:1 (3 to 1) odds or a 25% chance (1 in 4), to win the hand by making the flush in order to break even and any better chance will offer a positive expected value.
In this case Player B’s probability to make the flush is 34.97% or 1.86 to 1 to win the hand with the flush, so this call has a positive expected value.
Another example on the flop:
Player A bets $200 into a $200 pot, Player B is holding a nut flush draw on the flop the amount to call is $200. There will be at least $400 in the pot, this means the pot odds are 2 to 1 or Player B needs at least a 2:1 (2 to 1) odds 33% chance (1 in 3) to win the hand by making the flush. In this case the Player B’s probability is 34.97% or 1.86 to 1 to win the hand with the flush, so this call has a positive expected value.
Another example on the turn:
Player A bets $800 into a $800 pot, Player B is holding a nut flush draw on the turn the amount to call is 800 there will be at least $1,600 in the pot, this means the pot odds are (1,600 to 800) 2 to 1 or Player B needs at least a 2:1 (two to 1) or 33% chance (1 in 3) to win the hand by making the flush. In this case Player B’s chance to make the flush is 19.57% or 5.11 to 1, so this call does not have a positive expected value.
I’m hoping this will help you on how to figure out pot odds. This blog highlights the fundamental basic definition of pot odds. There is a lot more to pot odds but I’ll let you all digest the basics first before we move on to the main course!
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