Friday, October 10, 2008

How to take advantage of poker odds to win big pots

You probably know what pot odds and implied odds are in poker, but do you know how to take full advantage of this knowledge in a no limit poker tournament?

As a reminder, pot odds are the ratio of the size of the pot to the size of the bet. If the pot has $400 in it, and your opponent bets $400, the pot is $800. Since you need to call with $400, the pot odds are $800 to $400 or 2-1.

Implied odds are based on the amount you believe you may win at the end of the hand, if you make your hand and win.

For example, the pot has $1,000 after your opponent bets $500 on the flop. You have a straight draw, and the pot odds are $1,000 to $500 or 2-1. Which is not favorable for drawing to a straight.

However, if you hit your straight on the next card, you believe that you may end up winning $4,000. Therefore, your estimate of your implied odds is $4,000 to $500 or 8-1 and you can call the bet.

While it's important to know these odds, it's even more important to know how to take advantage of the odds. Here's an example:

You are in a no limit poker tournament. It is the first hand with the blinds $25-$50. Everyone starts with $4,000 You are in the big blind.

The player under the gun raises to $150. Everyone folds to you. You have the pot odds of $100 to call the bet. Your pot odds are $225 to $100, or slightly over 2-1.

You look down at your cards and you have 8-7 suited. What should you do?

The correct play in this situation is to call the bet since you are getting excellent implied odds. If your opponent has a big hand like pocket Kings, and you hit your hand, you could win a much bigger pot.

What happens in this situation is that right before you call the raise, your opponent picks up his cards to look at them. By accident he flashes his cards to you. He has pocket Aces! Now what should you do? Does this change your original decision?

Not at all. Call the bet.

As a general rule, when you are in the big blind consider calling a bet if you are getting 2-1 pot odds or better, have much bigger implied odds (due to deep stacks) and have a drawing hand or better.

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