Knowing Your Odds

- by Lucky Ace · Filed Under Poker Strategy Comments Off on Knowing Your Odds 

Knowing the odds of getting the card or cards you need to have a winning hand is a big factor in successful no limit Texas Hold’em poker. If you can calculate your chances of drawing the card you need for a straight, flush or full house, those odds should influence whether you stay in a pot, raise it or fold your cards.

In order to calculate the odds, you need to know the number of outs you have available to you – and have a fair idea of those of an opponent. For example, you are holding TJ and the flop comes out 89A – two of which are hearts. There are four 7’s and four queens in the pack, giving you eight outs for your straight.

Ignoring possible pairs and trips that may still come out, your odds of making the straight are (8/47 + 8/46) with 47 being the number of unseen cards remaining in the pack after the flop and 46 the number after the turn – a percentage of 34%. However, with two hearts already on the table, you need to adjust this figure if another player has two pocket hearts – you do not want the queen or seven of hearts to come out because their flush would bust your straight. Now your odds are reduced to (6/47 + 6/46) just 25%. Theirs is closer to 40%!

On a rainbow flop, your percentage of 34% means that you are going to catch the card you want to complete the straight one-in-three times and, as a straight has the measure of any pair or trips, win the pot. Therefore, to make it viable for you to stay in the hand there should be at least two other players in the game to represent “equal” value (you being one of three players and your hand having a one in three chance of winning). If there are more players, you should increase the size of the pot with a bet – if there is only one player remaining, the odds imply that you are not getting the value and strictly speaking should fold.

If you are hoping for an inside draw, where you hold TJ and the flop is 78A, the odds are substantially reduced. There are only four cards which make up your straight – 9’s – and the odds of you catching one on the turn or river are (4/47 + 4/46) 17% or about one in six. However, there is also the possibility that a queen and king could show up to make a TJQKA straight, the odds of which are (8/47 + 4/46) 25%, giving you a total of 42% (a two in five chance after the flop), but only an 8% chance if a queen or king fails to show in the turn.

What you need to remember is that poker is not a pure science. There are many other factors that you need to take into account when deciding whether to stay in a hand or not, but knowing your pot odds is a good basis for determining whether your decided action is going to represent value.

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