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Poker math is a tool we use to decide if staying in a hand is worth it.  The math of any two poker hands might be different even if the cards you have in the hole and the flop are exactly the same.  That’s because the pot might change!  However, poker rake is not a part of poker math!

Simplification is a Big Challenge

This is part 4 of our Juicy Stakes tutorial on poker math.  As you can see, we are struggling to make poker math as simple as possible.  That’s because we are determined to help poker players incorporate poker math into their overall game.

Simplifying concepts can be difficult in many areas.  For instance, how can a language teacher simplify their language for students?  How can a recipe simplify a tricky procedure?  How can a coach in some sports simplify concepts for players?  So, it should come as no surprise that simplifying poker math is also a big challenge.

Let’s Return to Pot Odds

We have spoken about pot odds.  But we have also spoken about the essential nature of non-mathematical elements in determining your course of action.  The non-mathematical factors are the specific tendencies of the opponent you are facing in this hand, is she prone to bluff or is she prone to bet only with solid hands, her betting on this hand, her position on the hand, and both your and her odds of getting the winning hand.

Pot odds give you a clear number as it related to your hand alone.  Calculating pot odds for your opponent’s hand require some sophisticated guesswork.

We Start by Counting our Outs

Basic poker math counts our outs.  Basic poker math comes in handy when we need to hit an “out”.  If we have a set hand, we need to look at the hand in a different manner.

Let’s take an example.  If we were dealt an ace and a lesser card suited and the flop turns up with three nondescript cards but two of the same suit as the one we have in the hole, we have two ways to win the hand.  One way is to get another ace which nay very well win th ejand by itself or we can get the flush.

Now, we also have or keep in mind that even though the cards on the flop look non-descript, the opponent might have made three of a kind with the flop!  Here is where knowing a player’s tendencies helps us decide what to do. Still, at the very least, we need to use pot odds to see if, in theory, a bet, call, or raise is a good idea.

We have 12 outs in this hand.  They are the three aces remaining in the deck and the nine cards of the suit in which we already have four to a flush.

The 4 and 2 Rule

There is a quick way to determine the odds of getting one of your outs.  If you know the number of outs you have and there are still two streets to play, you multiply the outs by 4.  If there is only one street remaining, you multiply your outs by 2.  This is not an exact probability but it is very close.

There are charts available online that give the exact odds for you to hit a hand with two streets to go and with one street to go.  If you look at such a chart, you will see that the rule of 4 and 2 is very close to the real probability.

Now We Apply Pot Odds

The rule of 4 and 2 only gives us the probability of getting the hand you are seeking.  The next step is to apply pot odds.

The first step in applying pot odds is simply to add the amount in the pot plus the bet that we are deciding about and the size of the bet we need to make to stay in the pot.

If, in our example, the pot has $2 and the bet is $1 that means that the pot has $3 and we need to bet $1 to stay in the pot.  The pot is “offering” us $3 for a $1 bet.  So, the pot odds are 3-1.  This is similar in its own way to sales on clothes or any other item.  If a store is advertising 25% off summer clothes so they can make way for the next season’s clothes, we have to decides if 25% off is worth it to us.

Do we need the clothes that are on sale?  Are the clothes attractive enough for us?  Some end of season sales are all for clothes that few people wanted at full price!  Are the clothes still too expensive for our clothing budget even after the sale?

At 25% we might say no, no, and no!  But at 50%, we might answer these questions with a resounding YES!

Let’s Get Back to the Pot Odds Example

The pot odds are 3-1.  That means that if we lose three out of four hands at these pot odds, we will break even.  If you feel that you will win at least two out of four hands, then the bet is worth it!  Even at 3-1 pot odds, there may be other factors that help you decide what to do.

Is the opponent tight or loose?  How much in actual dollars do you have to bet to stay in the hand?  If you need to add $1, you might call or even raise, but if you have to put in $10, you might choose to fold.  This is a question of stack size.  So, pot odds alone and probability alone don’t give is a full picture.

We need to combine the two to get a better picture!

Learn How to Calculate the Break-even Percentage

There is another number trick that will give you what is generally called the break-even percentage. You add the odds together and divide that into 100!  By the way, this trick only works when the odds can be expressed as something to one.

The break-even percentage is a function of pot odds.  Now we compare that to the actual odds of getting the out needed and if the break-even percentage is lower than the probability of getting an out, then, generally speaking, it’s a good bet to call or raise.

What Does Juicy Stakes Offer New Poker Players?

We have many different types of poker at many different stakes levels.  We have tournaments for all types of players.  You can match wits with players from all over the world!

Juicy Stakes is an online poker room which means that you can play without spending any money getting to the room.  These are just a few of the good reasons to join Juicy Stakes!

Join Juicy Stakes NOW!


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