A while ago we started a series on no limit hold em strategy and looked at essentials like bankroll management, different playing styles and pre flop play.  In this post we’ll revisit that all important element of poker…pot odds.

Poker pot odds can be approached from a fairly elementary standpoint, but in later posts we’ll be looking at more complex situations where ascertaining pot odds takes more than using the fingers on our hands to count our outs (if only it were that easy). 

As most of us know, pot odds dictate the profitability of chasing draws, or pitting our hand against the range of hands we can put our opponents on.  At it’s simplest, one example might be deciding whether to call a post turn bet with an open ended straight draw by comparing the chances of making our hand against the size of the bet we need to call. 

The chances of hitting an up and down straight are roughtly 5:1.  If the pot is $100 and our opponent bets $100, it would make a pot of $200 with us needing to call a $100 bet to see the river.  The pot is giving us odds of 2:1, compared to our significantly worse odds of of hitting our hand, being 5:1.  A call here is generally a poor investment. 

If you’re starting out with poker and odds are giving you a headache at the table, it’s worthwhile remembering some of the easy and more common drawing odds.  Here are a couple of common situations and their approximate odds. 

Flush Draw
 4:1
 
Open Ended Straight Draw
 5:1
 
Inside Straight Draw
 11:1
 
Three of a Kind drawing to Full House or 4 of a Kind
 6:1
 
To take things a little further, check out this other quick method for calculating pot odds, as well as a discussion on implied odds.

More in this series:

1. Bankroll Management
2. Playing Styles
3. Pre Flop Poker

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