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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Pot Odds Are Important in Any Kind of Poker

18 November 2005

You're in a Texas Hold'em hand with a pair of 10s in the pocket. You raised before the flop and got re-raised by a player on your left. Everybody else folds and the flop comes down:

A – K – 5

You test the waters with another bet and your opponent pops you again. You know this guy. You've played with him before and he doesn't fool around. He simply has to have a pair of Aces – minimum! Your pocket 10s are positively no good. But if you hit a third 10 on the turn, your trip 10s will probably win. So should you call his raise and try for that trip 10?

The answer to this question is determined by something known as "pot odds". Simply defined, pot odds is the price the pot is offering you compared to the price it will cost to call. It's a risk/reward consideration, and all good poker players live by it.

Proper strategy is to call if your pot odds are higher than your odds against catching the winning card. But if your odds against winning are higher than the odds you're getting from the pot, you should fold.

Your predicament in the above scenario is really pretty cut and dried. The way the hand was bet, there are maybe 11 bets in the pot so far. If you call the next bet in hopes of spiking a 10 on the turn card, you'll hit it about one time out of 23 (two available 10s in 45 or 46 unknown cards). Even after adding in some extra bets to be won if you catch your card, there's virtually no way you can net 23 bets. So the correct play is a clear fold!

In any kind of poker if you haven't got the lead hand, whether to continue on becomes a question of pot odds. That last example may have been an obvious one to most experienced players. Now here's a more debatable example from Omaha Hi/Lo Split 8-or-better.

You start out with A/A/2/K -- a pretty nice hand. The flop comes A-2-6 with two clubs and the turn card is the 4 of clubs making the board look like this so far:

Ah – 2c – 6c – 4c

You have three Aces, but your low draw got basically destroyed and it's almost certain that straights and flushes are already made. You need Aces full to get half the pot and have nine cards to do it with – one Ace, two deuces, three 4s and three 6s. That's 9 chances out of 44 unseen cards – about a 4-to-1 shot. Should you call to see the river card?

The answer is not automatic, but depends upon your pot odds. If half the pot will contain more than a four bet profit for you, then you should call. If it's less, then believe it or not, you should give up your three Aces.

Let's look at two examples -- one of each indication in a $5/$10 game. In one situation, there was no raise before the flop and four players called. On the flop, you bet your trip Aces and two players called you. On the turn there's a bet and a raise, and now it's up to you. With that hand scenario, there is $65 in the pot and it'll cost $20 to call. If you fill up at the river, you'll probably net around $40 for your half after subtracting your own bets. Well, that's only 2-to-1 pot odds on a 4-to-1 shot. To call here would be playing a losing game of poker.

Now instead, suppose the pot was raised before the flop and five players stayed in. On the flop, three other players called your bet. On the turn there was a $10 bet and two calls, but no raise. This time there's $100 in the pot and you can get in for ten bucks. Making Aces full here will net you around $60 on a $10 call. Now you've got to go for it!

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> More Books By Fred Renzey

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> More Books By Fred Renzey