CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

Pay Attention to Pot Odds When Playing Live Poker

28 July 2006

Lately, I've been playing poker a little more frequently and have tried to pay attention to what, as a novice, I feel is an advanced concept but which experienced players consider rather elementary: winning at poker means winning money, not pots.

Now, think about it. How often do you worry more about whether your opponent is bluffing than you do about whether there's enough money in the pot to justify your calling him on it?

Example: You're playing a Texas Hold'em game heads up (against only one other player), the dealer has just turned the fourth card on the board and the pot has about $32 in it. You're drawing to an inside straight, but there are also two suited cards on the board. If he has two suited cards in his hand and if the river shows a third suited card, he makes his flush. He bets $8. Should you call?

I'm sure other, more experienced poker players can think of many exceptions, but as a general rule, you wouldn't want to call because of "pot odds."

The idea of "pot odds" is a comparison of your chances of making a winning hand and the odds that the pot is offering you. If you're a 6-to-1 underdog, you don't want to call if the pot is giving you only 3-to-1, but if it's giving you 8-to-1, then it's certainly worth it to call. It means squeezing out the greatest profits in the long run.

Now, where have you seen this term, the long run, before? You guessed it: any time you're thinking about gambling at a profitable level, whether it be video poker or blackjack or live poker, you have to think of playing for the long term. Example: you just played a VP hand correctly but after the draw you see you could have won more by playing it differently. But if you play that same hand thousands of times, instead of just this one time, you'll make more money in the long run by playing it the way you did.

In poker, two handy numbers to have in the back of your mind are the odds of making either a flush or a straight draw with only one card left to see. The odds are 4-to-1 against making a flush draw and 10.5-to-1 against making an inside straight. So, in the example above, you would want at least $84 in the pot to call an $8 bet. But your opponent needs only $32 because he's working on a flush draw.

But this is only a simple example. There are more complicated matters to think about, like implied odds, totaling your "outs" and having the best hand versus drawing dead. Another problem I have is that I'm terrible at estimating how big the pot is, but there are suggestions and tricks for solving that problem and I'm working on it.

For more detailed discussions on pot odds, there are several good books that can help. One is David Sklansky's Hold 'Em Poker. Two more are Get the Edge at Low-Limit Texas Hold 'Em by Bill Burton and Winning Low Limit Hold'em by Lee Jones.

Until next time, aces and faces to you.

Linda Mabry

Low Roller Linda Mabry lives and gambles on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She writes a weekly, general gambling advice column for the Biloxi Sun Herald, and may be contacted through her e-mail address, lnmabry@cableone.net or her web site www.thelowroller.com
Linda Mabry
Low Roller Linda Mabry lives and gambles on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She writes a weekly, general gambling advice column for the Biloxi Sun Herald, and may be contacted through her e-mail address, lnmabry@cableone.net or her web site www.thelowroller.com