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Poker Odds Made Easy

Most people probably don’t get into poker for the math. A novice player often has no more experience with math and poker beyond counting chips into the pot. However, as players become more knowledgeable about the game and climb up the poker rankings they realize that mathematics and odds play a crucial role. If you’re aware of the importance of odds but not quite sure how to use them in your poker games, here’s a simple guide to the various odds you may encounter.

Pot Odds

Pot odds in poker represent how much you can win versus how much you have to pay. If you are facing a bet of $25 and there is $100 in the pot, you are getting 100-to-25 or 4-to-1 pot odds. Why is this important? If you will win in this particular situation more than once for every four times you lose it, you will come out ahead. If you will win less than one time out of five, you will come out behind. If you will win exactly one time out of five, or one time for every four times you lose, you will break even (you’ll lose $25 four times and win $100 once for a net of $0).

Hand Odds

Your hand odds are the likelihood that a card will come to give you the win. These cards are called “outs.” If you hold As5s and the board is 8s Ts 3c Kh, you may consider the remaining nine spades as outs since they will give you a winning flush. You may also count the remaining three aces as outs if you believe a pair of aces will be good enough to win. Assuming you just count the spades, there are nine cards that will win you the hand and 37 that won’t (since there are 46 total cards you have not seen). This yields odds of 37-to-9 or roughly 4-to-1. If you are getting pot odds of better than 4-to-1 it is correct to draw at your flush. This is called a positive expected value or +EV play. You should memorize basic hand odds to help you make decisions faster and more easily during a game.

Implied Odds

Implied odds are pot odds that take into consideration future bets you may win if you make your hand. If you have a reasonable certainty that you can win at least X additional dollars on a bet after you hit your card, you can include this money in your calculation but this must be an honest assessment. If you are up against an opponent who never calls opponents down when a flush hits you cannot realistically expect to make extra money.

Some percentage chances for poker hands in a Texas Hold’em game:

Hand                       Chance in %

Straight flush              .00031
Four-of-a-kind            .0017
Full house                   .026
Flush                           .030
Straight                       .046
Three-of-a-kind          .048
Two-pair                     .235
Pair                             .438

Chances to hit draws in Holdem (from flop to river):

Open ended straight flush draw       72.32%          
Flush draw                                         35%
Open ended straight draw                 31.5%
Three-of-a kind (to full house)          27.80%
Inside straight draw                           16.50%                      

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