Pot Odds in Poker EXPLAINED

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Most of what’s in this chapter is also in The Book of Preflop, with a few add-ins. Why I feel is great to repeat this whole ordeal is because this is legitimately the founding stone of all thought processes. Pot Odds tell you how often you need to be right. It’s not half the times. You don’t have to win every time in poker. You just have to calculate pot odds and estimate a few hands in your opponent’s range that you can beat.

Let’s get a bit into specifics.

Pot Odds is the most important toolbox element of the poker player. The bread and butter of poker. If you want to be a great poker player, you HAVE to understand Pot Odds.

Basically, Pot Odds will tell you how often you have to be right in the long run.

Example: Your opponent fires a river bet of 2/3 pot. You’re asking yourself if you’re supposed to call or not. You think that you beat a part of villain’s range, but you don’t know for sure how often you’re supposed to be right here. How much of Villain’s range do we have to beat to make this a profitable call?


(Amount to call / Total Pot after you call)  = Pot Odds

In this particular case, if Villain is betting 2/3 pot then your Pot Odds are:

(2/3) pot  / (2/3 pot + 2/3 pot + pot) = (2/3) / (7/3) = 2/7 =~ 28%

What just happened up here?! I don’t understand anything!

Well, you have to call a 2/3 pot bet into the pot that’s down there + the amount Villain bet ( 2/3 pot ) + your call. If you win you’re getting pot+2/3+2/3(that you called), so 7/3.

After that, you just divide your call to the total pot size and you’re done. Multiply the division by 100 to get an exact percentage.

If this math still escapes you, I have already calculated for you the Pot Odds for standard bet sizes:

1/4 pot = 16%

1/3 pot = 20%

1/2 pot = 25%

2/3 pot = 28%

3/4 pot = 30%

Pot bet = 33%

2x Pot = 40%

3x Pot = 43%

That’s all the Pot Odds that you’ll ever need. If your opponent bets anything else, just approximate to the closest value and that’s your Pot Odds.

Also, always remember that your opponent will probably have different ranges for different bet sizes, so make sure to try to restrict his range as close to reality as possible, so you can then see if you’re beating any part of it.

Example – If opponent bets 60% pot we can realize that’s closer to 2/3 pot (66%) than 1/2 pot (50%) so we’re going to think about 28% Pot Odds.

Now, why is all this math gibberish useful?

Well, let me explain a bit more in detail.

You flat AQ preflop in the BB vs a CO open.

The board ran out A2873 no flush and you’re facing a third barrel, trying to evaluate if it’s worth it to call here.

You’re estimating that your opponent will bet this range on the river:

Sets: AA/22/88/77(no 33 because he wouldn’t have barreled turn)

Two Pair: A2s/A8/A7/78s

Top Pair: AJ/AQ/AK

Bluff: T9s

Now, let’s see how many combos we beat and how many beat us, having that there’s no more cards to come. Bear in mind that we also have an A in our hand so that will block a bit of Villain’s combos.

Sets: AA 1 combos/22 3 combos/88 3 combos/77 3 combos

Two Pair: A2s 2/A8 6/A7 6/78s 2

Top Pair: AK 8 combos

We beat:

Bluff – T9s – 4 combos

Top Pair – AJ – 8 combos

Total combos that he bets with: 46

Total combos that beat us: 34

Total combos that we beat: 12

We beat 12 out of 46 combos which multiplied by 100 gives us 26% Pot Odds.

If our opponent bets half pot, then we need at least 25%. It’s a call.

If our opponent bets 2/3 pot, we need at least 28%. It’s a marginal fold.

If our opponent bets 3/4 pot, we need at least 30%. It’s a fold.

If our opponent bets pot, we need at least 33%. It’s a fold.

Combinations are extremely important and it’s vital to understand them because they are the building blocks of a professional poker player’s thought process foundation. You need to be able, at some point, to restrict your opponent’s range with every action that he takes, every timing tell that he gives us and we need to find hands in these ranges that we can beat either with hand strength or a number or outs. This is where combos will give you a definitive answer.

It’s not correct to say that if you’re beating AT/AJ and getting beat by AK/AA in opponent’s range,  then you are ahead of half his range. Combos and blocking can give you the exact answer to this and even more insights in tougher spots, and they will ultimately solutionize mathematically your questions and you’ll get so used to them as brushing your teeth every morning (I hope).

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