Back to school: Basic poker maths

Grinder School coach CodeRedRulez explains how you can easily calculate pot odds and implied odds at the poker table

What are pot odds?

They are the ratio of the current size of the pot to the cost of calling a bet or raise. There are two main factors you have to consider when looking at pot odds:

  1. The size of the pot
  2. The cost of calling

Here’s an example of how to work out pot odds…

  • Our opponent bets $5 into a $25 pot on the turn. What are our pot odds?

So we have to call a bet of $5 to win $30 (the $25 pot plus his $5 bet). This can be defined at 30:5, which can be simplified to 6:1, or 6/1. That’s not too difficult is it? For a bonus point what draws are we then getting the ‘correct price’ to call with when getting 6/1 odds?

The answer is four outs or more when on the flop, and seven outs or more when on the turn. As you can see, when you’re getting such a great price you don’t require many outs to make a call profitable!

What are implied odds?

They are the ratio of the remaining effective stack to the cost of calling a bet or raise

There are also two main factors you have to consider when looking at implied odds. The first is the size of the effective stack remaining. The effective stack can be defined as the maximum amount any player may wager based on the stacks of the players involved in the hand. For example, if you have $100 at the table in a cash game but your opponent only has $40 then the effective stack is $40 as that’s the most anyone could win or lose from the other in that hand.

Whenever you watch poker in the movies and people are forced to fold because they can’t ‘match a bet’ (such as when someone ships a car into the middle!) it’s because a stupid writer has no idea how poker works in reality with effective stacks.

The second factor to consider is, once again, the cost of calling. Here’s an example…

  • Our opponent bets $5 into a $25 pot on the turn. If we were to call, we’d have $10 left in our stack and our opponent has $15 after his bet. What are our implied odds?

There would be $10 left in our stack after we call so it’s $10/$5 = 2:1, or 2/1.

When you are making odds-based decisions – which you will be doing all the time – you must use both pot and implied odds to create the total odds. Here is an example of that…

  • Our opponent bets $5 into a $25 pot on the turn. If we were to call, we’d have $10 left in our stack and our opponent has $15 after his bet. What are our total odds?

Cost of calling: $5
Pot size: $25 + $5 ($30), for pot odds of 6/1
Implied odds: $10, which is 2/1.

To create the total odds you add both the pot odds and implied odds together, which comes to 8/1.

When to use odds

We use these odds to draw on the flop when we know we’ll be able to see both cards after calling this bet. The most common example of this is if by calling either us or our opponent will be all-in. We don’t have to worry about another bet on the turn here and we can’t fold after we go all-in, making these the easiest maths decisions of them all.

We also use these odds on the flop when we aren’t sure if we’ll be able to see both cards without having to put another bet into the pot. An example would be where our opponent bets $5 into a $10 pot on the flop and we have a flush draw. If we were to call, the effective stack would be $20. That gives us pot odds of 3/1, implied odds of 4/1 and therefore, total odds of 7/1.

That sounds great but since we’re on the flop and will often have to call a turn bet too (if we miss) we have to use the odds for one card to come instead. We need 4/1 total odds to call and, because we are getting 7/1 we should call. Now, of course, this also assumes that we will get our opponent’s stack should we hit our flush! This is very important to remember. If our opponent has a very wide range and will be bluffing a lot (meaning we won’t get paid off) then this number doesn’t really work. The implied odds could be cut in half, meaning that only half the time we’d get our opponent’s stack when we hit our flush. Even doing this, and making total odds of 5/1, we still have the correct odds to draw.

On the other hand, if our opponent had bet $10 into a $10 pot we would now be getting 2/1 pot odds, 1.5/1 implied odds and total odds of only 3.5/1. This is not enough so we should fold. This is why it’s important to bet larger when there are plenty of draws out there – you want to give your opponent bad total odds to continue drawing to a hand that could beat you.

What are reverse implied odds?

If a hand has reverse implied odds then it has a chance to lose a lot of money when you ‘hit’ your hand.

When I first started playing NLHE I thought this was just something people made up! But it’s not, and instead of having a chance to win a lot of money you have the chance to lose a lot of money when you hit your hand.

Reverse implied odds usually come about through being dominated when we have a low kicker, for example holding A-8 when our opponent has A-Q. In this example, if we hit our Ace for top pair, we’ll lose a lot of money because we are behind. Also, we are not likely to win a lot when we are ahead – such as on an Eight-high flop. Think of reverse implied odds before you make a loose call or re-raise preflop. It’s almost always preflop where the mistake begins! It’s also important to remember that this theory is more important, and damaging, the deeper-stacked you are.


This article is an extract from Pot and Implied Odds by Grinder School pro CodeRedRulez. For the best low-stakes strategy videos go to Grinder School now!

 

 

 

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