The Most Important Concept in Texas Holdem Poker

Pot Odds

All the cards are out. There’s £100 in the pot, your opponent bets £50 and with your hand, you’ll win half the time. Do you call?

Yes, the pot is now £150, that’s your reward. It’s £50 for you to call, that’s the risk. The Reward is 3 times the risk. The call is 33% of the pot. That’s the percentage of showdowns you have to win to break even. It’s simple to see that if you won 50% of the time, it would be a profitable call. I’d call every time.

In this example, all the cards are out so you don’t have to worry that your opponent is on a draw. In these situations pot odds combined with your own hand strength will give you an idea of whether to call or fold.

We can use pot odds when there are still cards to go as well. Suppose you have a nut flush draw on the flop and position. The pot is $30. First position leads out with a bet of $20. Two players call after him. The pot is now $90, its $20 for you to call. The call is 22% of the pot. You have a 17% chance of hitting your flush on the turn. Pot Odds say fold.

Just to be clear, pot odds influence every stage of poker. Here’s a preflop example of how to totally misplay a hand;

-You are big blind

-You have pocket aces

-You have $100

-The blinds are $1/2

-First position raises to $10

-3 callers

-The pot is 43

-8 more for you to call

-You raise 10

-It’s $10 for 1st position to call into a $61

-16% of the pot

The odds get better for every player. This effect is called the umbrella effect, when one players call makes the pot odds better for the next player and so on, calls by early position players encourage late position callers. You could call it the domino effect.

-They all call

-The pot is now $103

-Flop comes 4 7 9

-You bet strongly at the flop

-That means all in for $82

-You get called and beaten with a set

How to play it:

Raise at least $35. This would have given the first player 40% pot odds to call. However he would have been well behind to my Aces (at best 10.8% to hit a set on the flop) and since I am guaranteed to lead out strongly, this would have been a losing decision for him.

In this situation, when considering how strongly to re-raise, it is important to consider the size of the total pot in relation to the players stack sizes at the table. If you have aces and get a short stacked player to call into a pot roughly the same size as his stack and then check to him, he may push all in as a bluff, so you would be willing to let him see the flop to be able to stack him.

So remember to always relate the size of the bet or re-raise to the size of the pot!! Happy poker.