How to Work out Poker Odds 2018-09-18T13:33:25+00:00

How to Work out Poker Odds

There’s a lot more to playing poker successfully than bluffing and going all-in. In this guide, we’re going to show you how to calculate poker odds for every hand you’ll find on a poker hands chart.

Intro

In order to really be a great poker player, you need to be better than your opponent. Luck plays a small part of course, but what if you could give yourself an edge by knowing when you are most likely to win? Only a fool would turn down the chance to know this and the good news is you can easily work it out yourself. Basic mathematics can help a player to calculate odds which will greatly improve their winning potential. Want to know how to do this? Of course you do! Read on in our guide to poker hands odds.

Probability of Winning

probability-of-winning-poker Like many people you might think that math is something you learn at school and then never use for the rest of your life. That’s where you’re wrong. You use it most of the time without realising. When you’re in a shop you know how much change you should get when you buy something, for instance. Or if you have eight bars of chocolate and you need to share them between four people, you know it’s two each. Simple mathematics.

Calculating the probability of any occurrence is a little more complicated than this, but not overly so. With a little bit of practice, you will know how to calculate the probability of winning and you’ll also know the odds of every single combination on the poker hands ranking chart.

Probability can be represented by a number between 0 and 1, where 0 is impossible and 1 is certain, or it can be represented by odds (2:1, 5:1, etc.) where the lower the odds are the more likely an outcome is.

How to Calculate Poker Odds

Calculating the odds of winning in poker is not as tricky as you might believe. It is however limited to what you know, so obviously you can see which cards you have and the community cards on the table. Unless you are playing against someone careless who actually reveals their cards – that’s actually physically showing you rather than verbally telling you which could be a bluff – then there are a lot of unknowns. You obviously know which poker hands beat others and the odds can then be calculated based on known variables.

how-to-calculate-poker-oddsYou need to know how many cards can help you win the hand – also known as ‘outs’. So, for example if you have a 2 and 5 of diamonds after the turn you see Ace of clubs, Jack of diamonds, 3 of hearts and 8 of diamonds you might fancy your chances of a flush. You don’t know what your opponent has and there are still 44 cards in the deck that could provide you with a winning card. All in all, there are 9 chances to win from the 46 cards in total (including your opponent’s) which are unknown to you. That gives you a 37 to 9 chance of winning, or we could simplify it to 4:1. Assuming your opponent has an Ace, which is the best he can have at this point unless he’s also chasing the same flush, he’ll be looking for a third one to win. There are only 2 cards that can seal his victory among the 46 which are unknown to him. That gives him odds of 46:2 or 23:1. This means you obviously have a much greater chance of winning.

In this case, victory isn’t assured and you’re basing a lot of your workings out on guesswork, but it would surprise you how few players take a mathematical approach to their game and this will give you an edge on them.

The magic formula following the turn is as follows:

The number of unknown cards minus your number of outs divided by your number of outs to one.

The number of unknown cards is always 46 at this point and let’s say you have 10 outs.

Therefore, the probability is 46-10/10:1 = 3.6:1.

Learn this formula and you’ll always be able to quickly calculate poker hands odds.

Using ‘Outs’

An ‘out’ is a card which will win you a hand in poker. In the above example your potential flush has 9 outs and the three Aces you believe your opponent to be chasing has only 2. The higher the number of outs you have the greater the probability or the lower the odds will be on you winning.

As well as knowing your poker hands ranking chart, it can pay to know the probability of winning.

There are many handy guides which tell you the probability of winning based on the number of outs you have. Obviously if you have only 1 out then the odds will be 45:1 and if you have as many as 18 outs the odds are around 1.6:1. The lower the odds, or as close to 1:1 as possible, the greater the chance you have of winning. Other players will know their outs and they’ll know how many they have, but it’s unlikely they’ll know the correct poker odds for the outcome, and it’s even less likely they’ll have calculated your odds of winning.

Mathematics is definitely a professional poker player’s good friend, and it’s as much about what other players have in their hands as it is about what you have.

Learn this formula and you’ll always be able to quickly calculate poker hands odds.

When to Call

work-out-poker-oddsYou can know when the poker odds are in your favour, but knowing when to call and generally how to use probability to your advantage is an entirely different skill altogether. No decent poker player will aggressively raise or go all-in just because they know that the odds of winning are in their favour. That’s not to say that some won’t employ this tactic, but it can be quite foolish.

You need to look at the pot and what it will cost you to call. Poker, like all other forms of gambling, is not necessarily just about winning, but looking for value when you do so. Remember, probability might be telling you that you’re in the driving seat for that particular hand, but it by no means assures you of scooping the pot.>

In the above example where your odds of winning are 4:1 you’d want that kind of return on your investment. If the pot contains $110 and your opponent bets a further $10 making it $120, it will cost you $10 to call. In this instance, a bet of $10 gives you a potential win of $120 or in simpler terms odds of 12:1. If you were betting on formula 1 and the bookmaker offered you odds of 12:1 on a driver to win a race when every other bookmaker rated him as a 4:1 chance you’d take his arm off for a piece of that action and poker is the same. Play it cool though – there’s no point in sniffing out a great value bet just for your lack of a poker face to give the game away.

Conversely if your opponent bets big and the pot is not as large so as to give you a potential return of 4:1 or greater it might be time to think about folding. This can also be dependent on who you’re playing against – some players will bluff of course and aggressive raising can just be a means to scare away another player and win with poor cards. Your ability to read an opponent is just as important as your ability to calculate poker hands odds.

Losing

Losing is something a poker player doesn’t enjoy, but you have to take the rough with the smooth – no player wins 100% of the time. If the odds are as low as 2:1 and you believe your opponent to have around a 10:1 chance of winning, it doesn’t mean that victory is yours. The favourite doesn’t win in every horse race and poker is no different in this respect. Remember that odds of 2:1 means that in three identical instances of gameplay you would lose twice. The key is minimising losses and maximising profits wherever possible.

Common Poker Hands Odds

In Texas Hold’em the odds will change slightly as each card is dealt. These are some of the common poker odds when you’re waiting for the final (river) card to be dealt:

Open-ended straight: 4.8:1

Flush:  4.1:1

Inside straight: 10.5:1

For any two or three of a kind hands to land it can be dependent on what your opponent has or what you believe them to have. Looking at a poker hands chart can certainly advise you how to proceed, but the odds can be anywhere from 8:1 to 22:1 at this point.

Poker odds are easy to calculate, but feel free to use a poker hands chart or a poker hands odds calculator which are freely available online until it becomes second nature to you.