Pot Odds

Working out the pot odds in poker is a crucial part of poker odds and can help you optimize your decision making. In tournaments or cash games, one pot can be the difference between a losing session, and taking home the trophy. In this blog, we’ll tell you how to calculate the pot odds, how to apply this simple tool against the strength of your hand, and how to turn your understanding of pot odds into a profitable part of your poker game.

What Are Pot Odds in Poker?

In poker, the pot odds are easiest explained as the ratio between the size of the pot – This includes all the bets and raises up to and including the current betting round – and the size of the bet you are facing.

Typically, you’ll be trying to work out whether it is good value for you to call, or whether the ‘pot odds’ are such that you should fold instead. It’s very important to understand pot odds, because sometimes, the strength of your hand compared to the amount of chips you could win are in your favor and you should call, even if there are other pieces of information telling you to fold.

Calculating Pot Odds

Calculating pot odds is an essential part of poker strategy, and it’s a fundamental skill that every poker player needs to know. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to calculate pot odds in poker:

Losing or Gaining Outs

Understanding that your pot odds can change as the streets go on is a big part of staying profitable in poker. For example, let’s say you hit your flush draw, but the board pairs and your opponent could have a full house. With your opponent potentially holding a full house, you have a whole new set of odds to consider. How strong your hand is one thing, but with the implied odds of the hand now down to just one bet and another decision, you must recalculate the pot odds.

Once again, follow the formula. How many outs did your opponent have to land the full house in the previous street? Did he have the odds to put his money into the pot assuming you’d make your flush? Thinking about how you or your opponent might gain or lose outs through the flop, turn and river are vital to calculating the pot odds on each street as well. Take advantage of them and exploit your opponent.

Weighing Up an Opponent’s Range

Thinking about what your opponent(s) range is vital when calculating pot odds. You need to know that you’re behind or ahead to get the true odds on the value of your hand. You won’t know for sure until (if) they turn their cards over, but if you can establish your opponent’s likely range before the hand, then you’re going into the calculation of pot odds with more information.

Information is key in poker, and each bit helps. For example, if you know that your opponent only calls or raises with premium pairs, then you can work out your pot odds based on this assumption. If there’s a sliding scale, then you need to know where you are on it, and most importantly, how strong it makes your hand.

Remember, don’t make pot odds based solely upon the math. You need to take into account all these other factors and use pot odds to improve your base of information upon which to make a final decision.

Cash Games Vs. Tournaments

Pot odds in poker differ between cash games and tournaments. In a cash game, the pot odds are a true reflection of the pot odds, but in a tournament, they must be calculated with a whole new element in your mind. In a tournament, the odds should help you make a decision, but the value of pots – and chips – change depending on which stage of the tournament you are at.

If you’re aiming to get past the money bubble, then the pot odds may tell you to make a marginal call, but the implied odds of what you could win or lose dramatically alters the way you should play the pot.

Failing to Implement Pot Odds

There are ways to play poker without the knowledge or comprehension of pot odds, but you will be missing out on the profits that come from implementing this basic principle into your game. Ryan Leng will look back at last year’s World Series of Poker with extreme regret, as he made a mistake in the $50,000-entry Poker Players Championship that could have cost him glory and a lot of money.

With play short-handed, Leng has a simple call by using the pot odds calculation, but he makes an incredible fold, instead handing Dan ‘Jungleman’ Cates a way back into the action, which came at Leng’s expense. Cates recovered and went on to win the trophy, one he has since retained a year later to win it back-to-back.


In conclusion, calculating the pot odds is important in poker. In your spare time try practicing calculating pot odds in different scenarios, and when you are in a real game situation and faced with a difficult decision, the value of your hand may just become a little clearer to you. Once you improve your understanding of implementing the theory of pot odds into gameplay, you’ll reap the rewards.

Did this article deal you a winning hand?

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Paul seaton


Paul Seaton, a poker luminary with over a decade of experience, has reported live from iconic poker events, including the World Series of Poker, European Poker Tour, and World Poker Tour. He’s not just a spectator; he’s been the Editor of BLUFF Europe Magazine and Head of Media for partypoker.

Paul’s poker insights have graced publications like PokerNews, 888poker, and PokerStake, where he’s interviewed poker legends such as Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, Phil Hellmuth, and The Hendon Mob’s, entire lineup. His exceptional work even earned him a Global Poker Award nomination for Best Written Content. In the poker world, Paul Seaton’s expertise is a force to be reckoned with, captivating enthusiasts worldwide.

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