Texas Holdem Poker Lessons: Pot and Hand Odds

In poker, you need to know about odds. This Texas Holdem Poker Lesson explains hand and pot odds.

Hand Odds

This is the chances of making a hand. Say you are dealt a 9-10 off-suit. If the flop yields a 2-6-7, what are the odds of you getting that straight on the turn or river?

Below is a quick list of hand probabilities after the flop and after the turn. The chances of hitting the hand is always higher after the flop because you still have two community cards left. But if you do not make your hand by the turn, you have only one shot left (the river) to complete it.

Hand After the Flop After the Turn Pocket Pair to a 3 of a Kind 8% 4% Inside Straight / 4 of a Kind 17% 9% 3 of a Kind to 4 of a Kind /Full House 28% 15% Open Straight 32% 17% Flush 35% 19% Flush / Open Straight 54% 33% Flush / Inside Straight 45% 26%

To calculate hand odds, you need to know two things:

1) The "outs" or number of cards that can make your hand. For example, if you need just one more diamond card to make a flush after the flop, there are 9 outs left that can give you that (since each suit has 13 cards).

2) The number of cards you haven't seen (includes the deck and cards the other players hold). Since you hold 2 cards and there are 3 on the board after the flop, that leaves 47 cards (52 card-deck - 5).

Divide the outs by those unseen. 9 / 47 = .191 or 19.1%

If you miss it after the turn, you divide again minus the turn card: 9 / 46 = 19.5%

So the odds of getting a hand on the river is slightly higher than making it on the turn. That is, if you take the odds individually. The table above combines the turn and river odds for the "after the flop."

Most players come to "feel" the odds from experience without doing the math. But it helps novices to refer to an odds chart.

Pot Odds

This is the ratio of the pot to the bet you need to make to keep playing. If the pot is $200 and you need to wager $10, the ratio is 20:1. The bigger the pot is compared with the bet, the better your pot odds are.

Good pot odds means you only need to risk a small amount to win a big amount. It's not unlike betting on a heavy underdog in sports betting. Using the moneyline, you can bet $100 on an underdog tennis player to win, say, $220.

Using the Odds

When faced with a bet, consult the pot and hand odds. Make sure they justify staying in the game. The rule is: FOR THE POT TO BE WORTH BETTING FOR, THE POT ODDS MUST BE GREATER THAN THE HAND ODDS.

If the pot odds are 20:1 and you have a flush / open straight in the works, the pot is worth it. Why? Because the odds for a flush / open straight let you win more than 1 out of 2 times, and 20:1 pot odds mean you only need to win 1 out of 21 times to break even, or bet 1 to win 20! Long explanation short: If you stick to this game plan, over the long run you will win the pot more often than you will lose!

Here ends the Texas Holdem Poker Lesson on odds.