Poker Pot Odds. Understanding Pot Odds in Real Money Poker

Having a basic maths concept behind you is essential on the road to becoming a winning poker player. Understanding poker pot odds will allow you to base your decisions mathematically which will give you an indication whether or not you are getting the right odds to play a hand or not. Throughout this article we will look at; what are poker pot odds, working out pot odds, before looking at some key points.

What are pot odds?

Poker pot odds are a mathematical concept used to determine whether we have the correct odds to make a decision in the hand, whether it is to call or fold.

The most common scenario of a player needing to work out their pot odds is when we are faced with a drawing hand, such as a flush draw or straight draw. These odds will give you a definitive answer as to what your play in the hand should be.

Working out pot odds

There are two common methods of working out your pot odds; Ratio Method and Percentage Method.

The Ratio Method is the most common and easiest to apply, so this is the method we will be looking at throughout this article.

– Ratio Method

The ratio method is the more commonly used out of the two and is often the easiest to understand and get to grips with. Let’s take a look at a running example:

We find ourselves in a position pre flop with As 9s and the flop turns over to be Js 8s 2h. Now straight away we can see that we have flopped ourselves a flush draw but we need to make sure we are getting the right odds to continue in the hand to make our play as profitable as possible. At this point we need to work out what odds we are going to need to call a bet on flop with our flush draw.

So, there are 5 cards that we defiantly know of at this point in the hand, our two hole cards and the three cards on the flop, resulting in 47 that are, at this point, unknown. From the 47 left there are 9 cards that will complete our flush draw (13 spades at the start of the hand, 4 already out = 9 spades left) and 38 that will not, giving us a ratio of 38:9 or roughly 4:1 for us to complete our flush draw.

With this information already available to us, our opponent decides to bet $200 into a $800 pot, making the pot $1000. This would give us a ratio of 5:1 (1000:200) as we have to call $200 to continue and the pot is now $1000. The 5:1 is the number that has determined what pot odds we need to call.

Due to fact that we have already worked out what odds we need (4:1) and now have the information on what odds we are given (5:1), we can now call, safe in the knowledge that long term we are making a profitable call.


It’s important to remember that the poker pot odds we work out are just for the next card. We are not working out the odds of both turn and river due to the fact it’s inconceivable to know the amount of money that will enter the pot so working the odds is a pointless exercise.

The odds do not double if we factor in the river card to our equations.

The only time that we need to factor both turn and river cards is if we find ourselves in a situation where we are making an all in decision with either a straight or a flush draw, otherwise we work with one card at a time and re-calculate once we know the pot size.

Key Points

• A grasp of pot odds can drastically help making decisions in poker

• Memorise and learn the odds that each draw will need

• To start, use odds charts to help you make decision quicker

• Try to deviate away from pot odds as little as possible, long term playing within the odds will bring a profit

Great poker rooms to practice your poker strategies: Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars.

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