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How to Calculate Poker Odds

Expected Value and Pot Odds Answers
Many poker players talk about EV, which stands for "Expected Value." Expected value is the amount you can expect to win on average every time you are in a particular situation. It is included here because as you spend more time playing poker, you will hear EV tossed around, and you should know what it is.

Using an earlier example in this article, assume you have a
pair of aces, and you place a $100 bet and one player calls with AK. The way to determine your EV is as follows: Put yourself in this situation 100 times. (It costs you $10,000 [$100 times 100] to enter this situation 100 times.) You will win 92 times and receive your $100 in return plus your opponent's $100 for a total of $18,400. You will lose your $100 the other eight times. Therefore, your $10,000 investment nets you $8,400 in profit ($18,400 minus $10,000). Now divide the profit ($8,400) by 100 times, and this figure -- $84 -- equals your EV. What this tells you is that, on average, you will win $84 every time you are in this same situation. Good poker players maximize the times they have positive EV and minimize the times they have negative EV.

In the final section, we have provided a pot odds table for you to study. With a little memorization and a lot of practice, you can start putting pot odds to work for you!

For more information on poker odds and winning at poker, try the following links:
  • To see all of our articles on poker rules and advice, go to our main article on How To Play Poker.
  • For an introduction to the game, skim over these Poker Basics.
  • So you think you've got the best hand. Maximize your winnings with these Poker Betting Tips.
  • Have you calculated that your hand is a loser, but you think you can fake out the opposition? Be sure you know How to Bluff in Poker.

Poker Odds Answers
1. The odds the pot is offering you are 5 to 1. There is $5 in the pot, and you need to call with $1. Because any ace or nine will give you a straight, you have 8 outs of the 47 unseen cards or almost 4.9 to 1 odds to improve your hand. In a loose game where you can expect one or both of your opponents to pay you off when you hit, you should call. In a tight game with solid opponents, this is probably a fold. If you do decide to see the turn and another heart hits, your outs go from 8 to 17, and the pot odds probably improve enough to see the river.

Some may wonder why the possibility of a straight with a heart flush isn't an automatic call on the flop. While it's true that the possibility of two hearts hitting the turn and river (often called runner-runner) improve your odds slightly, the odds are knocked back down by the fact that if you hit a flush, it may not be the best flush because the A is out and may be in an opponent's hand; or if you improve to two pair, you could be beat by trips. Remember, don't ever let the possibility of runner-runner enter into your calculations until the first runner hits. When you need two cards to make a hand (often called a two-outer), you are getting terrible odds.

2. The odds the pot is offering you are 3 to 1. In all likelihood, your opponent holds an ace or a king, so making a pair will not help. Your only hope is making a straight. Therefore, you have only 4 outs (the 4 queens). This makes the odds 10.8 to 1 that you will hit your hand. This is an easy fold.

3. The odds the pot is offering you are 17 to 1. You are definitely up against at least a pair of aces and probably trips. You must have a queen on the river to win (unless your opponent has trip aces in which case you cannot win). This leaves you with 2 outs to win the hand and makes the odds 22 to 1. Though this looks like a fold, it is recommended calling in this situation despite the possibility of pocket aces because of the implied odds. Your hand is well disguised, and if a queen hits, none of your opponents will put you on trips, so you should be able to collect at least two or three more bets and possibly more since one of your opponents will almost definitely bet into you and you can raise.