Pot odds, implied odds, your odds, their odds, cards to come odds.…It all gets so damn confusing. And if you want to be a world-beater at the poker table, there’s much to know. But if you just want to beat on some recreational players, knowing the mathematical basics will take you a long way.
You should always be aware of how much is in the pot so you can easily calculate your current odds. And you should also estimate what you think your hand is worth.
How is the hand likely to play out? What are the differing plausible scenarios? Be aware of any actions that may take place behind you. Closing the action is far superior to having three players to act behind you whose actions may affect your price. What is the blended value of all the possible scenarios? Yeah, it’s always an estimate. But the more you think this way, the better your estimates will become, making for crisper decisions.
Always understand that your bet is offering your opponent odds. If you raise a small amount with a big wired pair and both you and your opponent have large stacks, and you’re probably paying off if you’re beat, think about the implied odds you are currently offering your opponent. If the implied odds number is high, you may well want to bet more. Yes, I understand there are many other issues, but this is about odds.
Close enough is good enough in poker. For ease of calculation, I use rough justice numbers. You have about 2% per win per card or 4% for two cards coming. So if you have 8 wins with one card to come, you have about a 16% chance to hit. With two cards to come it’s about 32%. Keep in mind that you may face bets on all streets, and you can’t always assume improving translates into winning.
Discounting straights and flushes, if you hold AK, or any other unpaired cards, you will flop a pair or better about 1/3rd of the time. Running AK out (5 cards) against QQ is about a 45%-55% proposition. If you hold a wired pair, you will flop a set about 12% of the time or 7 1/2-1. Are the implied odds right to draw to your pair pre-flop? Keep in mind you don’t always win and don’t always stack your opponent when you do. If you do flop a set, you will make a full-house or better about 1/3rd of the time. If you hold two suited cards, you will flop a flush less than 1% of the time and a four-flush about 11% of the time. If you hold two unpaired cards, you will flop two-pair about 2% of the time.
Additionally, you can use math to assist in reading your opponent’s ranges. There are 6 combinations of any pair, 16 of any unpaired hand of which 4 are suited. So, if an opponent’s range is AA, KK, QQ or AK…There are 6 combinations each of AA-KK-QQ and 16 of AK. Therefore, that opponent’s range has 18 pairs and 16 AK’s. So if you hold TT, you are an underdog to be good right now and not much of a favorite when your opponent holds AK. That equates to a blended large negative EV with TT against that range.
If an opponent would play J9s in a given position, but not J9o, then his range has the potential for 4 combinations of J9. Adjust a player’s range by the cards that come on the flop or any in your hand. If an A is removed, there are only 12 combinations of AK available. If you hold the Ah5h then the chances of AA being in your opponent’s range is reduced by 50% (3 combos) and AK is reduced by 25% (12 combos).
These are the basics, rough justice style. Get to know them, apply them to your thought process, they are your friend. And when you can utilize them correctly, you’ll be getting your money in with the best of it!
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