As you get familiar with the felts, you realize its much more fast-paced! Decisions happen in split seconds, which means you need to be mentally calculating the odds much faster!
Poker is a game of probability and meticulous calculation as much as it is about psychology. While some players do have a style that is focused on reading tells, every good player knows the importance of calculating their odds of a winning hand and more importantly, doing it efficiently.
Pot odds refer to the ratio between the amount required to bet to stay in the hand and the amount already in the pot. Why is this crucial? Pot odds allow players to determine what kind of risk to reward ratio they are looking at when deciding whether to call, raise or fold.
Lady luck does play a factor in any player’s chances of winning a hand, but if you ensure that the odds are in your favor, over time you’ll make a profit playing poker. Pot odds are of no use unless players can calculate them quickly in real-time while playing. So, here are a few tips to quickly calculate pot odds and stay on top of the game!
Calculate Pot Odds as a Ratio
Whether you like it or not, you gotta make math your best friend. Many players find it easier to calculate these odds as ratios or fractions. Let’s look at an example: Let’s say there is Rs.100 in the pot, and you have to decide whether to call your opponent’s bet of Rs.20, you would have pot odds of 5:1. However, if you had to call a Rs.50 bet with the same Rs.100 pot, your pot odds would be 2:1.
Note: Pot odds are calculated using the total size of the pot after your opponent bets, not before.
In other words, if the pot is Rs.100 and your opponent bets Rs.50 the pot odds for you would be 150:50 which simplifies to 3-1. So your pot odds, in this case, would be 3:1. Brush up on those division skills to make this simpler for you!
Remember it’s not important to get the exact number. Even top players work on a rough estimation, which is totally fine. In fact, it gives you more time to make a decision, rather than focusing on getting the exact number!
Calculate Pot Odds as a Percentage
Some players prefer calculating their pot odds as a percentage, remember it’s whatever works for you! In order to calculate pot odds as a percentage, divide the amount you would have to call to stay in the hand by the total amount in the pot. Then, multiply that number by 100 to arrive at a percentage.
Let’s say the action is on you, your opponent just bet Rs.50 on a Rs.150 pot. The total value of the pot is now Rs.200. To calculate your pot odds, you would divide the amount you have to call to stay in the hand by the total value of the pot, and then multiply that by 100. So, 50 divided by 200 equals 0.25. 0.25 multiplied by 100 equals 25. So, in this case, your pot odds would be 25%.
Approximation is the name of the game
Calculations can get complex in poker. Especially when calculating pot odds as a percentage, many players get intimidated when dealing with decimals. Precisely why good players become proficient in estimating instead of dealing with long decimal calculations. Revisit your high-school textbooks to regain your comfort in converting fractions to decimals quickly.
While poker will always be about playing your opponent to some extent, modern poker is increasingly relying on math theory.
Understand how pot odds relate to hand strength and pot equity.
Pot odds are closely related to pot equity. Pot equity is your odds of winning the pot at any given point in time.
There is a shortcut to estimating pot equity, which is known as the rule of twos and fours. You can use this rule by multiplying your number of outs on the flop by 4 and the number of outs you have on the turn by 2. This will give you a direct percent that represents the chance of you making your hand.
This percentage can be compared to your pot odds percentage. If you have pot equity that is larger than the pot odds based on these calculations, you can profitably make the call to stay in the hand.
It’s important to note that these calculations do include your ability to accurately predict what hands your opponents could have. The best way to get better at calculating pot odds or any related skill is by practicing while playing.
Let the odds always be in your favor!