How to Calculate/Use Pot and Implied Odds

Players who can properly calculate pot and implied odds are at a huge advantage when compared to their lesser educated opponents. By being able to look at the community cards along with your hole cards and calculate your odds in the hand, you'll be able to make better decisions in every hand you play. Learning about pot and implied odds is the best way to really improve your game, especially if you're a new poker player.

Pot Odds

The first step in determining pot odds is to assess how many outs you have to make your hand. "Outs" are cards in the deck that will improve your hand. Although calculating outs might seem like something you'd need a mathematician to help you with, it's actually fairly simple. The best way to explain this is through an example:

Imagine that you're playing Texas Hold'em and have 78 off-suit. The flop comes out 10-9-4, giving you an open ended straight draw. Any 6 or Jack will make your straight, and since there are four 6's and four Jacks, you have 8 total outs to make your straight. Now, to determine the likelihood of making your straight you'll have to look at the total number of cards remaining in the deck.

In this case, you have 8 outs, and there are 47 unknown cards in the deck (52 cards in a deck minus your 2 hole cards minus the 3 board cards equals 47 unknowns). So, simply divide 47/8 and you get 17%. This means that you have a 17% chance of making your straight on the next card. Note that this doesn't factor in the turn and river.

If you'd like to figure out your odds of making the straight on the turn or the river, you have to calculate your odds on both streets and then add them together. In this case you'd add your 17% chance on the turn to the 17.4% chance of making it on the river (since the turn would already have been dealt, there's only 46 unknown cards in the deck so you'd divide 8/46), to get a total percentage of 34.4%.

Here are some common odds for making specific draws. Make sure to bookmark this page so you can come back later while you're playing poker to quickly determine your odds.

Draw: Odds on Turn: Odds on River: Odds on Turn and River:
Flush Draw 19.1% 19.6% 38.7%
Open Ended Straight Draw 17% 17.4% 34.4%
Gut Shot Straight Draw 8.5% 8.7% 17.2%
Two Pair --> Full House 8.5% 8.7% 16.5%
Open Ended Straight Flush Draw 36.2% 37% 59.8%

Now, to really use pot odds to make decisions you also need to incorporate another calculation - namely, the money that is going into the pot. This calculation is much easier than determining your hand's outs.

All you have to do is compare the odds of your hand improving to the odds of the bet you're facing. For example, if you had the straight draw above and knew that you had a 34.4% chance at making the straight on the turn or river, you could only correctly call a flop bet that was less than 34.4% of the total pot size. For example, if the pot was $100, the maximum bet you would call would be $34.40. If you call anymore than that, you're going against the pot odds and making a bad decision (in most cases, keep reading to learn about implied odds).

Implied Odds

Many times you will run into a situation where it will be correct to go against pot odds. The reason for this is implied odds, or the odds that if you make your hand, you'll make more money than the current bet you're facing.

For example, if you have a small pocket pair preflop, you'll have roughly a 1:7 chance of making a set on the flop. If you made your decision strictly using pot odds, you'd only limp in if the blinds were 1/7th of the total pot. However, that is rarely the case, so by using pot odds to make your decision you'd basically never see a flop with a small pair, and we know that isn't correct.

In this case you'd want to limp in even if the bet you were facing was 1/4th of the pot size, simply because if you make a set it is a very deceptive hand and you can almost guarantee that you'll win much more money than the original preflop bet. That makes it correct to call preflop, even if the pot odds dictate you shouldn't.

To make decisions based on implied odds you should have a good feel of your opponents as well as your hand's potential so you can determine if the hand has big money potential.

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