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What are Pot Odds when playing poker?

Each and every decision you make in poker – whether it is calling someone’s re-raise on the river or 3bet pre-flop – should take pot odds into account. This is the most important concept you will ever come across in poker, thus taking the time to understand what pot odds are and how to calculate them in will help a great deal of help. After reading this article, you’ll fully understand the principles behind it and how to avoid making bad decisions.

Short and sweet, pot odds are the value from calling a raise or bet at any point in the game. It takes into account how much you can expect to win from the pot in comparison to how much it costs to call. These two figures are juxtaposed to provide a ratio or pot odds percentage figure.

How to Calculate Pot Odds

Pot odds = Value of Pot: size of raise.

For example, there is currently $20 in the pot and we’ve flopped a flush draw (As-7s) on a flop 4s-Kd-6s. Our opponent has raised $10 and we need to decide whether to call or fold.

The pot odds = $30: $10 = 3:1

In other words, we stand to win $3 for every $1 that we put into the pot. These pot odds can also be understood as a percentage figure (33%).

Should We Call?

The relevance to pot odds is that we should only call raises where the pot-odds are greater than the hand odds. Hand odds are the probability of completing your draw and winning the pot through the next card drawn from the deck.

Profitable calls in Poker = Pot Odds > Hand Odds.

To calculate the hand odds we need to work out how many cards left in the deck can complete our flush. Since we can put aside our own holding cards and the cards on the flop, we know that there are 9 cards out of 47 than can complete our flush. Thus, 47:9 = 5.2:1
In conclusion, pot odds of 3:1 are smaller than 5.2:1 which means we should fold.

Final Note on Pot Odds

Pot odds provide a straight forward (ish) way of making long term profitable decisions in poker; however it is only one part of your decision. You also need to take into account your opponent’s holding (reverse implied odds mean he could have you beat even if you complete your hand), the remaining players in the pot left to act and your stack size. For example, if calling leaves you pot-committed then you may as well shove all-in anyway to get extra equity from the hand and increase your chances of winning.