Calculating pot odds is a valuable skill which you will need to master and use in any poker game. In a poker game, it's a central requirement that you calculate the odds of any event occurring and this determines your actions. For example, you need to be calculating pot odds of finishing a flush or a straight, the chances that you're going to flop a set to improve a pocket pair, or the probablity of getting an overcard. Your knowledge of these statistics can be the key to winning.  The ability to calculate pot odds is even more important in online poker where you may not be getting any 'tells' from the other players - statistical knowledge becomes the main factor when choosing whether to fold, call, or bet. Using an effective poker odds calculator is a good shortcut and can be used to good effect in online poker games.

First of all, here are some terms that you'll hear whenever we are  talking about calculating pot odds.....

Outs                     The number of cards left in the deck that will improve your hand.

Pot Odds              The odds you get when comparing the current size of the pot against your next call.

Bet Odds              The odds you will get as a result of working out the number of callers to a raise.

Implied Odds        The odds you are getting after the assumed result of betting for the remainder of the hand. With this, you are thinking about what might happen in future betting rounds.

Calculating pot odds can be easy. You compare your potential outs (the number of cards which will make or improve a hand) to the size of the pot at that point in the hand. You are comparing the total number of unknown cards with the number of cards that will complete or improve your hand, and then dividing and balancing this against the size of the pot.
If your chance of winning is much better than the balance of the pot size to a bet, then you have strong pot odds. If it's lower, then you have bad pot odds.

Basically, the ability to calculate pot odds allows you to make the correct choices in a hand, and over a period of time this basic poker strategy will ensure that you play the poker hands which statistically will give you an better overall chance of winning.

As an example, say you hold 4 cards of the same suit with the last card still to be delivered. You need the 5th card for a flush. So, there are 9 possible cards which will make your flush, out of a possible 46 (you already hold 4 of the possible 13, and from a starting deck of 52 you already know your 2 pocket cards, and the 4 that have been flopped already). So, the odds are 37 to 9, or 4.1 to 1. Clever poker players will only call or bet if the pot is at least four times the size of the bet you're going to make.

There are poker tools you can use which makes calculating pot odds easier and fast. One of these is a poker odds calculator, or alternatively you can use a chart to help.  Also it is possible to calculate yourself using a simple calculation.

An easy method of calculating pot odds is to multiply the number of potential outs by two. The result is an approximate percentage of the chance that you'll make your improved hand. If you calculate you have a 10% chance of winning, your bet should not be more than 10% of the pot total at that time.

Here are some links to useful charts which will help:

PokerSherlock.com Pot Odds chart

FlopTurnRiver.com Pot Odds Chart

And here are some other statistical representations that will help you calculate pot odds during a hand.

Pocket Pair          Flops a set 11.8 percent of the time
A-K                       Flops at least one ace or king 32.4 percent
Two suited           Makes a flush 6.5 percent
Two suited           Flops a flush 0.8 percent
Two suited           Flops four flush 10.9 percent
Two unmatched   Flops 2 split pairs 2.2 percent

The video below gives a good introduction to the skill of calculating pot odds in poker games.

''...the best poker players understand how to calculate pot odds in a poker game. Why shouldn't you?..."
How to calculate pot odds and why calculating pot odds is important?.....
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