Calculating poker pot odds is a very important part of being successful. Pot odds in poker give you a great sense of your chances of winning a hand, and whether or not you should even be in the hand to begin with. Not all bets are made equal after all. Sometimes you have to bet an amount thatís equal to half the size of the pot or more and sometimes your bet size is a tenth of the pot size or less. What determines if thatís really a good value for you is your odds of making the hand you are looking for.
When youíre calculating poker pot odds, you actually have to calculate two separate things. First, you need to figure out the odds that youíll make a hand, or get a certain card on the turn or river. Then, you need to figure out the size of the bet you need to make in relation to the pot. What youíre looking are better odds of making your hand than the pot size odds. Both of these combined will give you the pot odds you need.
To start with, take a look at your cards and see how many potential outs you have. Outs of course are the different cards in the deck that could make your hand for you. If youíre drawing to make a flush, with 2 spades out on the flop and 2 in your hand, there are potentially 9 spades left in the deck. With 5 cards that you know, your own hand and the flop, there are 47 cards left in the deck. 47 compared to 9 is roughly 5-1 or a 20% chance of you hitting your flush on the turn or the river. Drawing to a flush gives you a lot of options, but not all hands come with 9 outs. If youíre trying to draw for an inside straight, the outs youíll have are only 4, which cuts your chances by more than half.
As you see, calculating poker pot odds lets you know where you stand. An inside straight, when you determine the pot odds, is not worth as much chasing as a flush, which has so many more potential outs. A great method for quickly calculating pot odds is called the 4/2 rule. The 4/2 rule is fairly quick once you can figure out how many outs you have. You take the amount of outs you have after the flop and multiply it by 4. If youíre going for that inside straight, you get 16. Turn that into a percentage and you get 16%; thatís the chances that youíll get your card on either the turn or the river. If you donít get it on the turn, you multiply your outs by 2. Youíre left with a 8% chance of getting the card you need on the river, not exactly the pot odds you want to see.
Now you know how to get the odds for whether or not you will hit your cards and make your hands. Next comes calculating the pot odds for the size of your bet. For this you compare the amount of chips in the pot compared to the amount of chips you need to bet. With 250 chips in a pot, if you have to make a 25 chip bet, the pot odds are 10-1. What that means is for every one chip you bet, you can win 10 chips.
The key to determining whether or not you should make a bet and stay in a hand is comparing the pot odds of the chips to the odds that youíll make your hand. Going back to the inside straight example, before the turn you have a 16% chance of getting your card and you have to make a bet with 10-1 pot odds. Your 16% is closer to 5-1, and definitely above 10-1, so that is a bet you can safely make. After the turn though, with only an 8% chance of getting your card, thatís less than 10-1. So you shouldnít make the bet if you are following the rules of calculating poker pot odds.
The problem with this is that if youíre not very practiced it can take a lot of time. You have to figure out the outs of your hand, the size of the pot, the size of the bet you have to make, and compare all of the percentages. It can get confusing even for very good poker players. One great way to avoid all of this is to use the Holdem Genius and Texas Calculatem tools found at best poker software. Youíll get all of the valuable pot odds information you need to make smart decisions, without distracting yourself or taking too much time calculating poker pot odds while playing.