• July 24, 2021

Online Poker Dictionary: Pot Odds

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In poker there are good bets and bad bets – the game is simply a way of determining who can tell the difference. This is where the concept of pot odds comes into play. Put simply, pot odds means is there enough in the pot to call a bet.
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EXAMPLE: “The pot odds were 10:1 on the turn. I usually would call with those odds, but I only had three outs and I had a negative expected value. I folded.”
The fundamental principle of playing a drawing hand in poker is that you need a pot big enough to call. When we have a flush draw or a straight draw we will make our hand on the next card almost 20% of the time (19% for flush and 17% for the straight draw). That is, 20% of the time we will make our desired hand and 80% we won’t. The ratio 20 to 80 can be expressed as odds of 4-to-1. Therefore, if the pot is $80 we can almost call a $20 bet to break-even. I say almost because we have to make a profit so, a call of $20 is appropriate when there is more than $80 in the pot.
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Basic Math – Odds and Percentages
Odds can be expressed both “for” and “against”. Let’s use a poker example to illustrate. The odds against hitting a flush when you hold four suited cards with one card to come is expressed as approximately 4-to-1. This is a ratio, not a fraction. It doesn’t mean “a quarter”. To figure the odds for this event simply add 4 and 1 together, which makes 5. So in this example you would expect to hit your flush 1 out of every 5 times. In percentage terms this would be expressed as 20% (100 / 5).
Here are some examples:
2-to-1 against = 1 out of every 3 times = 33.3%
3-to-1 against = 1 out of every 4 times = 25%
4-to-1 against = 1 out of every 5 times= 20%
5-to-1 against = 1 out of every 6 times = 16.6%
Converting odds into a percentage:
3-to-1 odds: 3 + 1 = 4. Then 100 / 4 = 25%
4-to-1 odds: 4 + 1 = 5. Then 100 / 5 = 20%
Converting a percentage into odds:
25%: 100 / 25 = 4. Then 4 – 1 = 3, giving 3-to-1 odds.
20%: 100 / 20 = 5. Then 5 – 1 = 4, giving 4-to-1 odds.
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Steve Carr

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