A Beginner’s Guide to Poker Odds

Contrary to popular belief, poker players don’t necessarily play for money. Instead, it’s a thrilling and complex game, which means if you learn as much as you can about poker odds and are good at the game, it can immediately boost your ego and give you bragging rights when amongst friends.

When it comes to the game of poker, the truth is, the more you play, the better you get at the game. Although there are other ways of mastering the game, one is by understanding the odds of poker.

So if you want to learn poker odds and poker probabilities, then you’re in the right place.

What Are Poker Odds?

Having a basic understanding of poker odds and how you can use them to your advantage can give you an edge over your opponents. That being said, learning the basics is only the start towards true poker mastery. 

The first question you might ask as a beginner is: what are poker odds?

Simply put, poker odds are the probability that one can expect to win (or lose). These odds are also used to specify the number of times you need to have the best hand to call a bet.

You should note that every raise, bet, or call will have its odds, whether you’re playing Texas Hold’em or any other poker game. In short, poker odds are considered the most basic probability tools that a poker player has at their disposal — the only difference is how they use them.

Therefore, to be a good poker player, one must always think about pot odds when offering an opponent or being offered by an opponent.

Calculating poker odds is a way to assess a situation during a poker game. A player that doesn’t have a clue about the odds is not able to plan a strategy and is less likely to win a game of poker. 

Knowing poker odds is crucial since it gives the player an idea of whether they will win or lose. For instance, if you have two hearts, and there are two hearts on the table, on the flop, the odds for you getting a flush are about two to one.

Some common examples of poker odds include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Four to a flush at 4.1:1
  • Open-ended straight draws at 4.8:1
  • One pair drawing to two pairs or trips at 8.2:1
  • Inside straight (belly buster) at 10.5:1

How to Calculate Poker Odds?

In the game of poker, pot odds are the ratio of the current size of the pot to the cost of a contemplated call. Pot odds are used when a player holds a drawing hand to determine the expected value of a hand when the player is faced with a bet.

Pot odds are basically the ratio between the size of the total size of the pot and that of the bet. A great example of this can be given if a player places a $10 starting pot and a $5 bet (which is half the pot), then the size of the pot will be $15, and the player will be facing a bet of $5. So in this scenario, you can say that the pot odds for the game are 15:5.

Keeping that in mind, the player will then look to reduce the right side of this ratio to one. For those wondering, the rules of ratios in poker are similar to a standard mathematical equation, where what is done to one side needs to be repeated on the other side as well.

Keeping the above example in mind, if one had to divide both sides by five, then the pot odds ratio would be 3:1. The player will need to work on this ratio until it can be converted into percentage form.

To do that, add the two sides, which will amount to four, then divide 100% by four — which should give you 25% in four equal parts. Now, multiply the two sides of the 3:1 ratio by 25% and what you get is a 75%: 25% ratio.

With this information under your belt, players know that if the opponents bet half of the pot, they will have a good hand of 25% to make a winning call. Of course, this would be without being able to factor in other actions.

It also goes without saying that the more one attempts to predict what is going to happen at a later hand, the more complex it’s going to get because it will entail more complicated calculations. 

All this may seem very confusing to some, but there are shortcuts that beginners can take advantage of when trying to learn poker odds.


Learning how to play poker, and especially getting familiar with poker odds, can be challenging for beginners. The good news is that there are many poker odds shortcuts that you can learn and practice to improve your game. The following are just some of them:

The Rule of 4 and 2

This poker rule, also known as the 2/4 rule, was first coined by Phil Gordon in his famous Little Green Book and is considered to be an excellent strategy for NL Hold’em. This rule is a quick shortcut to help with the percentage odds in Hold’em, which is accomplished by doing the following:

  • Multiplying outs by two when the player is on the flop waiting for the turn
  •  Multiplying outs by two whenever the player is on the turn waiting for the river
  • Multiplying outs by four whenever the player is on the flop

Although this rule is only effective for percentage odds and not ratio odds, multiplying the outs by two or four will give a percentage that can be compared with the players’ pot odds to work out whether or not it’s worth calling with a drawing hand.

Another easy way for beginners to calculate pot odds is that they are invariably a function of calling or folding instead of just betting. For instance, if the bet is $1 for the player, and there is $4 in the pot, this will mean the pot odds are 5:1.

When Do Odds Not Work in Your Favour?

The odds of having a superior hand to the other players, i.e. what is typically called a “winning hand,” are the same for all players. However, if you say that the odds are not in your favour, it means there is a chance that you will not win. This can happen due to multiple reasons, and not just being unable to calculate your odds in poker.

Some of the other reasons you lose a hand include human error or simply bad luck. Some pro-poker players have had losing streaks that lasted months, so it’s not always the odds at fault. Beginners make all sorts of bad plays, and every now and then, someone will be on the wrong end of that play. It is a game of chance after all, so keeping your emotions in check is of crucial importance.

Final Thoughts

For many beginners, learning poker odds may feel like a complex process, but the truth is that it doesn’t make sense until you sit down at the poker table or go play poker online.

In short, when it comes to being a master poker player, it all boils down to practice. The more players practice, the better they will get at poker odds and making probability and mathematical calculations on the fly while playing the game.

In the end, every action you make, hand you play, and bet you face has odds, and as a result, have probabilities attached to it. So you might as well learn poker odds and practice, then practice some more until you have a good understanding of poker odds.


How to learn poker odds?

The best way to learn poker odds is by researching, watching videos online, and learning from poker players who are more experienced. But, in the end, it’s all going to come down to how much you practice your poker game. Without actually sitting at a poker table and playing the game, you can expect little progress.

What are good pot odds?

Pot odds are considered favourable when they are greater than the odds against making your hand. So, for instance, if the pot odds are 5–to–1 here, it would be a good call with it being just over 4–to–1 against making the flush.

How to calculate poker hand probabilities?

The player will count the number of cards that will improve their hand. This is multiplied by four to calculate the probability of catching that card on either the turn or the river.

How to calculate poker odds in your head?

Doing this may seem like stuff from the movies, but it’s not as complex as it appears to be. To calculate poker odds in your head, first, calculate the final pot size if you were to call by figuring out the pot size of the bet. Then, you can divide the size of the call by the size of the final pot and, finally, multiply the result by 100 to get a percentage.

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