Applying Poker Odds
During the heat of a poker game actually applying poker odds requires you to make quick and even approximate calculations, to estimate the probabilities of all the likely outcomes from the cards in front of you. However, although that might sound rather unscientific - most of the time, in most poker games, that’s all that is required to guide you into making a wise choice. Also, as with so many things, the more you play poker and practice at it the better you will become at spotting recurring possibilities with the cards, which will help you further in applying poker odds to increase your chances of success.
Three golden questions to keep in mind
The three golden questions you must always bear in mind when considering and applying poker odds are; first, how many cards do you need to either get or retain that winning hand? Second, to get that hand you want - how many cards are still unseen or are potentially available to you? And finally, what are the chances that you will actually be dealt the cards you want? So, let’s explore & examine those questions further.
Take advantage of your experience & knowledge
Regardless of what poker format you’re playing it’s pretty well inevitable that you’ll need to find one or more card(s) to make a wining hand. Unfortunately, the odds on you finding the card(s) you need are usually stacked against you. In a game of Draw Poker holding a pair of Aces and a pair of Eights would be quite juicy, but with another Ace or Eight - your confidence levels for winning would soar immeasurably. To do that you need to draw one of four cards, from the remaining two Aces and two Eights; from your position you want any one of 4 cards from the remaining 47, so your odds are 4/47 or around 11-to-1 against. But suppose you’re playing 5 Card Poker instead, holding the same two pairs. Here you’ll have seen your opponents face-up cards, so if 15 opponent’s cards are showing, none of which are Aces or Eights - with 33 cards unseen there’s now a 4/33 chance of you getting an Ace or Eight which giving you a better chance, more like 8-to1 against, of getting the full-house.
Think before you act
If they’re not some sort of math genius, rookie poker players can usually be spotted by them not using their brains and calculating just how rewarding making a certain bet might be. Having even a rough idea as to the odds on you getting the winning hand you want is far better than not attempting to make the calculation of the poker odds and just blindly betting. Don’t forget as well that your calculations need to include considering what the pot odds are too and that to win you might only need to retain a hand, rather than having to improve it. Poker games where community cards figure large, such as Texas Hold ‘em, can present particular problems when applying poker odds. A community card can be shown that turns your “not so bad” hand into a winner, but that hand you’re now metaphorically holding could yet be beaten by an opponents’ using the same community card(s).
Despite of all we’ve just said about calculating and applying poker odds, you should leave room in your game for the occasional speculative bet. Even the top pro Poker players will occasionally throw caution to the wind and make a bet that really is against the odds, when normally they would have folded. However, these aren’t the wild bets that a rookie would make, but will actually be a calculated bet based on the pot. Or, put another way, the implied pot odds are so good that it really is worth making a bet as the potential reward is so good. Imagine you’re 7-to-1 against making the winning hand, bets are $100 and there’s $500 in the pot - not a great reward here. But if two more players before you bet call, that’d be $800 in the pot. Those improved pot odds against your calculation of you being able to win are now balanced out and well worth having a go. For example by betting $100 you can win $700, the same odds as being dealt the winning hand. Remember as well that out of every seven occasions such a situation occurs the chances are, or rather the probability is, that you will win it at least once during the game.