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Poker Odds

Pot Odd's:
Often, you will hear someone say that they were justified in drawing to a straight or a flush, based on pot odds.  This may sound mystical to the beginner, but it is really a simple guide as to whether or not to play your draw after the flop or turn.

Consider this scenario:
You are playing Limit Hold'em, and limp into an un-raised pot in late position, holding QJ of spades.  There are two limpers ahead of you, the small blind calls and the big blind checks, resulting in a 2.5 BB (big blind/big bet), or 5 SB (small blind/small bet) pot.  The five of you see a flop of Kh Td 3c.  The small blind bets out and the big blind calls.  The early position limper folds, and the player to your right calls.  You are last to act, and have a decision to make.

You have flopped an open-ended straight draw.  The flop is a rainbow; three different suits, so you likely don't have to worry about people playing a flush draw.  You are the last to act, since the small blind opened the betting and there is nobody behind you to raise the bet.  There are currently 8 SB in the pot, and it will cost you 1 SB to call.  In this situation, you are getting 8:1 pot odds there are 8 units in the pot versus the 1 unit you must call to stay in. 

You must now compare this ratio to the likelihood of you making your straight.  Any Ace or Nine will give you the nut straight, and there are four of each that haven't been seen, so you have 8 cards which will make you a winner.  There are 47 unseen cards at this point (you've seen 3 on the flop and 2 in your hand), so the odds against making your hand on the next card are 47:8, or roughly 6:1.  Since the odds of you making your straight are better than the pot odds, you are correct in calling the flop bet.  You do so, and now there are 9 small bets in the pot.

Let's imagine that the turn card is the 6 of spades.  This card is a brick a card that likely doesn't help anyone's hand.  Once again, the small blind leads out, but in this round the bet size doubles.  Because of this, it's often easier to divide the number of small bets in the pot after the flop by two, and work with big bet units.  So, our 9 SB becomes 4.5 BB for ease of calculation.  The bet by the small blind brings this to 5.5 BB, and the big blind calls as well, making 6.5 BB in the pot.  The player to your right now lays down his hand, and you must again decide whether to continue drawing.  Your odds of drawing your straight card are almost identical to what they were before there are now 46 unseen cards, and 8 of them still give you the nuts.  46:8 = 23:4, or 5.75:1.  This is still better than your 6.5:1 ratio to call the bet, so you can call and see the river card.

What happens next, strangely enough, is immaterial.  Your decisions have already been made.  If you make your straight on the river, you will have the nuts, and at worst will split the pot.  If the river card misses you completely, you have an easy fold against any betting.  Only when you pair your Q or J on the river do you have a difficult decision against one bettor, it may pay off to call, but if there is a bet and a call ahead of you, the likelihood that somebody has paired the K is too great lay your hand down and save a bet.

An important tip to keep in mind is that an outside straight draw has 8 outs, while a flush draw has 9 outs.  In either case, 6:1 is close enough to calculate your drawing odds on the turn, and 5.5:1 will work for the river.  While this discussion has avoided other factors like the rake, redraws to flushes, and the like, it is all you need to know to start calculating pot odds with confidence in drawing situations.  Just remember to apply your knowledge at the table your results will improve greatly.

Implied Odds

Here's a quick example of implied odds.

You're dealt
6 , 6 .

No Limit Game. You're in a late position. There are two raises ahead of you. Let's say it's the first hand. Two people raise for 125 chips. Since you're in a late position, you run little risk of that getting pumped higher. Do you call? Maybe.

You're likely beat by one of those raisers, already.

If you run little risk of the pot being inflated, here's why you call. Your chances of flopping the set are roughly 1 in 8.

Your dream flop is
a - 6- 4 . Why? You just flopped your set. One of the raisers also probably hit their ace. So, you have an opportunity to take their entire stack, or possibly 2 entire stacks.

That is one thing people talk about when they talk about implied odds. If you hit, you have a much bigger payoff, bigger than the 8-1. If you don't flop your set, and have nothing else, exit at your first opportunity. This is also something you shouldn't do when you feel the pot might get inflated. You don't want to be in a 3 way all in race with a 66, and you don't want to lose your 125 without seeing a flop. So, thinking about implied odds in an early position is riskier.

Poker is a game of betting strategy.   It is important to understand poker odds and the chance of getting a particular poker hand in order to determine when to bet and how much to bet.  So what exactly are the odds and probabilities of getting a particular poker hand?  We have the answer for you.   

Poker Hand

# of Ways the Hand can be Made

Odds of Getting the Hand in Five Cards




Royal Flush


1 in 649,740.00

Straight Flush


1 in 72,193.33

Four of a Kind


1 in 4,165.00

Full House


1 in 694.16



1 in 508.80



1 in 254.80

Three of a Kind


1 in 47.32

Two Pairs


1 in 21.03

One Pair


1 in 2.36

No Pair Hand


1 in 1.99





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