Poker has a lot of mathematical elements…but pot odds are the most important. A solid understanding of pot odds will allow you to play draws better, go all-in preflop & postflop, and handle a wide range of decisions with ease. In this video I show you what pot odds are and how to use them using both a preflop and postflop example. There is also a link to a free tool down below that will automatically convert pot odds to percentages and vice versa. Same as always, if you enjoy reading, you can read the whole script below. Enjoy!
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Hello, and welcome to today’s quick plays video on using pot odds in poker. Pot odds are one of the most fundamental mathematical elements in poker, so understanding them is crucial for your success. In this video I’ll show you what pot odds are, how to use them, and show some real application with examples.
First, what are pot odds? You may have heard players talking about “getting 3:1 on a call” or “facing a shove and getting 1.5:1 on their stack”. These are examples of pot odds expressed as ratios. Pot odds are just a mathematical expression of risk and reward that can then be used to make better plays both preflop and postflop.
Let’s start by understanding what it means when we are getting 3:1 pot odds on a call. Whenever you see this kind of ratio it is telling you what your reward is for your current risk. The first number, which is almost always larger, is the reward and the second number is what you need to risk.
So take a classic example where the pot is $80 and your opponent shoves $40 into it. That means we need to risk $40 to call his shove, and our reward is what’s in the pot…so the $80 plus his $40 shove. That means we are getting 120:40, which simplifies down to 3:1.
Now we can take this ratio and turn it into a percentage. We simply take risk/(risk+reward), or in this case 1/4, to get 25%. This is the key part, so pay attention! This means we need 25% equity, or chance of winning the pot, to breakeven. If we have less than 25% equity it’s an outright –EV call. If we have more than 25% equity it’s an outright +EV call. We should always focus on making +EV plays, and pot odds can help us make them more often!
Let’s look at two examples to show how to apply this concept on the tables…
In this first example the CO opens, and we 3bet from the BB with AK. The CO shoves for $40 more and it’s back to us. At this point our risk is how much we have to call, or $33. Our reward is the current pot, or $53.50. So we are getting roughly 1.6:1 on a call. To then get a percentage out of that we take 1/2.6 which gives us 38%. So if our AK has more than 38% equity against the range the cutoff would shove this is a +EV call.
If you don’t know how to calculate equity you can watch our free video on using Equilab. But if we assume the CO is shoving a range of TT+/AK we have 43% equity. And the wider he shoves the more equity we’ll have. Again, if our equity is higher than the pot odds, it’s a +EV play and in this case we should call. We won’t win 100% of the time, but mathematically this is a correct call unless we think the CO is only shoving QQ+.
In this next spot we open 98s from MP, the button calls and we see a HU flop of Q76. We CBet, he calls. The turn is a 3, we double barrel, and he raises to $36. We can use the concept of pot odds even when we are facing a normal raise rather than a shove. So in this spot we are risking $24, since that’s how much we need to call, to win the current pot of $65.50. This comes out to 2.7:1 and means we need at least 27% equity here.
Using the simple 4/2 rule to estimate our equity, and assuming improving to any 5 or Ten would give us the best hands, we can times 8×2 to estimate our equity. That gives us 16% equity here, and given the pot odds we need 27%. It’s easy to see that we are not getting a proper price to continue with our draw so our best play would be to fold. The pot odds are incorrect given our equity, there isn’t much money left to win even if we do hit, and thus folding is the default play here.
One last thing if you want to practice this on your own, is the free tool on ThePokerBank.com. Using this tool you can plug in a ratio and get it converted to a percentage, and vice versa. This is good practice so you can begin to memorize some of the basic ones.
That is pot odds in a nutshell. The ratio is simply another way of displaying your risk/reward, and the reward is always the pot while your risk is always what you need to call. This ratio can be converted to a percentage which then gives you the required equity needed to continue in the hand. There are tangential concepts like implied odds that can help you visualize the future value of drawing…but we’ll cover that in another video.
Spend some time with pot odds so you can memorize some of the basic ones, like 2:1, 3:1, and 4:1…which will make your life at the tables much easier. Mathematical poker concepts like this never change, so you only need to learn it once and it will benefit you for the rest of your poker playing days!
Same as always, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to let me know…otherwise…good luck and happy grinding!