If you find this subject confusing, you’re not alone. But getting your head around pot odds can help make those truly head scratching decisions on the felt that little bit easier. So let’s explain pot odds in as simple terms as we can and give you that little bit of an extra edge at the table.
Explain pot odds to me
The shortest explanation is quite simple. It’s the cost of a call in relation to the size of the pot.
Expressing pot odds
A lot of the time, people explain pot odds in ratios. For that you need the size of the current pot (say £40) and the cost of the call (call it £20). In that situation, it’s 40:20 or 2:1.
We don’t know about you, but we tend to find it easier to figure these things out in percentages. So if that’s your jam as well, simply add the value of the current pot to the size of your potential call (in our example that makes £60). Then divide the cost of the call by the total value. So in this example, it’s £20 divided by £60, which equals 0.33. Therefore, your percentage is 33%.
But I’m still not clear on why pot odds are useful for decision making…
Okay, so imagine you’re playing hold’em. You’ve got a hand which isn’t up to much right now, but it could make something pretty if the right cards are drawn as community cards. But how do you decide if it’s worth your while going in on the hand…
The answer is by comparing the pot odds to the chances of a card coming up that can win you the hand. Put simply, if the chances of you drawing a winning card are higher than the pot odds, it’s worth calling.
If it’s the other way around, back off slowly.
How does future betting affect pot odds?
As there are several rounds of betting in a game of hold’em, it’s useful to have a mechanism for adjusting based on the betting that is yet to take place. That’s called implied pot odds. You can use them when you expect to fold in the next round if you don’t get the card you need in the draw, but you’ll bet more if the card you need is drawn.
So in that instance, simply add the bets that you expect to gain, excluding your own, to the current pot. And then you’ve got the basis for your implied pot odds.
Get your knickers in a twist about reverse implied pot odds
This is a term that strikes fear into the hearts of many poker players. That’s because it sounds super complicated. However, it’s not really that bad. Let’s break it down for you.
This applies when you’ll win the minimum amount if you have the best hand, but you’ll lose the maximum amount if you don’t. Put simply, this is for when you’re using aggressive tactics because you believe you already have the best hand. This may make other players fold or, if they have a very strong hand that could potentially beat yours, perhaps they’ll keep it going and you’ll lose big time. So basically it’s when you’ll either just win the pot as is, or you’ll lose the pot plus more if you call the stronger player’s raises. So for Reverse implied pot odds, you’ve got to really consider what your opponent has.
Put your pot odds knowledge to the test
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