Poker Odds – A Beginners Guide

In playing poker, either online or in person, the best way for one to determine whether or not to continue betting on a hand is by use of “odds.” Dictionary.com defines odds as “the ratio used as the basis of a bet; the ratio by which the bet of one party to a wager exceeds that of the other, granted by one of two betting opponents to equalize the chances favoring one of them.” Or, “an advantage or degree of superiority on one side of two contending parties; a difference favoring one of two contestants.” In poker, what does this mean? In essence, it means which side the cards favor.

When playing online, mathematical odds play a major role. The average online player will undoubtedly play multiple hands even during short periods of time. With this in mind it is best to be discerning in one’s card play.

One type of way to measure one’s odds is by the “outs.” Outs are simply any unseen card that, if drawn, will improve a player’s hand to one that is likely to win. Let’s look at a real example. We all know that there are 52 cards in a standard deck. Thirteen of each of the four suits. A person playing draw poker, to use a game for an example, has four clubs in his hand. The play has nine “outs” to make a flush. Now this can certainly be affected by the cards other players are holding. For example, in a game of Texas Hold ’em a player has an Ace of diamonds and a 10 of diamonds. The flop is a 2 of spades, a 6 of diamonds, a 9 of diamonds and the turn gives a Queen of spades. This hand is Ace high; the likelihood of taking the pot with this hand is low. The player in this instance is said to have a drawing hand. He has a minimum of seven outs for certain, called “nut outs,” because they will make his hand the best possible. The play can score a flush with any diamond.

When making any bet, it is also necessary for one to consider how your opponents are betting. Using the Texas Hold ’em example above, the player wants to get a diamond to make his flush. He expects that 4 people will call his bet. This gives the player 4 to 1 bet odds. These odds can be determines even before the hand is made. The more who call on this hand, the better the player’s odds that he should bet.

Another type of odds in poker is the Pot Odds. With this method, the player weighs the amount it will cost him to be versus the potential for profit. For example, a player is in $1/$2 game. The betting has been made and it is now his turn. There is $6 in the pot. If he makes the $1 bet, he has the potential to win $6. This means that he has a 6 to 1 “pot odds.” As long as the player is winning one out of every six hands, he breaks even.

Yet another method is the use of implied odds. With this the player makes an educated guess as to how much will be in the pot at the end of the game to determine to how he will play each hand. There is no real scientific value to this and is more of a hunch than anything.