How to Calculate Pot Odds in Texas Hold ‘Em

Knowing how to calculate pot odds in Texas Hold 'Em is crucial to your success.  Fortunately, learning how to calculate pot odds in Texas Hold 'Em isn't all that difficult.  Once you learn to do it, it will make a lot of your decisions about when to call and when not to call a lot simpler.  Here are the steps:

  1. Count the Pot.  The first step to calculate pot odds in Texas Hold 'Em is to count the amount of money in the pot, including the current bet.  For instance, if there is $100 in the pot before the flop, and a player bets $50 on the flop, the pot is now $150. 
  2. Calculate the ratio of your call to the pot.  The next step is to compare total amount in the pot to what it costs you to remain in the hand.  In this example, it costs you $50 to call in order to try to win $150, for a ratio of 150:50, or 3:1.  If he had bet $100, then the pot odds would be 2:1 ($100 in the pot + his $100 bet = $200 and it cost you $100 to call).
  3. Compare that ration to your chances of winning the hand.  The pot odds alone won't tell you whether or not you should call.  Once you know the pot odds you then have to compare those odds to the odds of winning the hand.  This part can be difficult since you never know for sure what your opponent has, so you also never know for sure what you need to win.  There are times, though, when you will be able to make educated guesses.
  4. Decide if the potential winnings warrant the risk of calling.  For instance, let's suppose that in the previous examples you had a flush draw.  Let's also suppose that you only have $50 left in your stack.  That means that if you call, you know you'll get to see the turn and the river because your opponent won't be able to bet you out of the hand later since you'll already be all in.  With two cards still to come, the odds of hitting a flush are roughly 2:1.  If we assume that hitting your flush will mean that you win the hand, then this is a call that you should make – the 3:1 pot odds are higher than the 2:1 odds against you making your flush.
  5. Remain cautious.  Of course, you don't know for sure that hitting your flush will win the hand.  Maybe your opponent has a full house already.  Or maybe he has a flush draw himself and his is better than yours.  Or maybe he is bluffing, and the odds are actually in your favor to win the hand!  All you can do is make educated guesses about the odds that you'll win the hand based on what you have, what cards are on the board, and what you know of your opponent and his betting patterns.  After all, there are very few definites in poker.

Despite all of the variables in poker, once you know how to calculate pot odds in Texas Hold 'Em there will always be one key piece of information that you can always know for sure.  The amount of money in the pot and the amount of money that you need to add to the pot to call will always be available.  Since these are the only things you need to calculate pot odds, you can always be sure that the pot odds you calculate are accurate.

All information on the odds of winning a hand come from Phil Gordon's Little Green Book: Lessons and Teaching in No Limit Texas Hold 'Em.

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