More Poker: Poker Omaha Poker Poker Rooms Poker Tournaments

Holdem School

Other Great Sites

How to Calculate Pot Odds

How to Calculate Pot Odds
by Loki Luchs of

One of the most important concepts in poker (especially limit hold'em poker) is the idea of pot odds. In short, pot odds describe the return you're getting on the money you're investing in a hand. If I told you that we were going to flip a coin for cash and every time I won I would get your nickel, but every time you won you would get my dime, would you take the bet? What you have to look at is what you risk and compare it to what you'll win. Since you're risking only a nickel to win, you would need to win one out of every three flips, or 33% (1:2), to break even. Odds say that you should (theoretically) win one out of every two flips since the odds of winning are 50% (1:1). Since the odds of you winning are greater than the percentage of time you need to break even, this is a good bet.

Now most of us aren't math geniuses, but there’s a pretty easy short cut to figuring out the percentage of the time that you're going to win. The first thing you need to do is figure the number of cards left in the deck that will make your hand a winner. These are usually called “outs.” Let’s say you're drawing to an outside straight draw from the flop. The four cards on either side of your straight draw are your “outs” for this hand. You have 8 cards out of the remaining 47 that will win this hand. For a math genius, it might be possible to figure out the exact percentage of the time that you will draw this card. In your head you would divide 100 by 47 and multiply it by 8 to figure out that you have a 17.02% of the time that you're going to hit your card. For those of us who aren't math geniuses, the easy way to do this is to divide 100 by 50 and multiply it by 8 to get 16%. In short, take the percentage of outs you have and multiply it by 2. This is accurate enough to help you make the right decision most of the time.


The other thing that you need to consider is how many times are you going to draw? If you have a chance to draw that card on both the turn and the river, you'll need to multiply that number by 2 again. So 16% multiplied by 2 is 32%. This isn't the exact percentage of the time you'll hit (34.41%), but it’s close enough that you will know where you're at in the hand. The difference between a percentage point or two, in the long run, won't make as big a difference as not knowing whether or not to make the call.

So let’s say you're in a hand of 5/10 limit hold ’em against one player. You think he has two pair and the only way that you're going to win is to hit your inside straight draw. If you hit your draw, you'll have the highest hand possible (the nuts) and you know you'll win the pot. He’s bet $10 into a pot that already has $140 in it. Many people will call or fold without figuring out whether or not they should. In this situation, you will pay $10 to win $160. (the pot has $140, your opponent’s $10, as well as your own $10) This means that the number of times that you need to win this hand is only one in every sixteen hands, or roughly 6% of the time. You have 4 outs to make your inside straight draw, so roughly 8-9% of the time you're going to win. This ratio means that folding here is a mistake! Pot odds show that if you make this play over and over again you will make money in the long run!

This is the part of limit hold ’em that makes you money. Whether you win or lose doesn't matter; what matters is whether or not, if you were to play the hand a hundred times, would you make money? If the answer is yes, then the play is call. If the answer is no, the play is fold!

Play Online

Play for real money using your credit card at Bovada


Bovada Poker - Get credited with a 10% bonus instantly. Get 100% more with a max. up to $500 as you earn poker points!


How to Calculate Pot Odds - One of the most important concepts in the game which is often times overlooked.