How to Quickly Estimate Poker Odds During a Game

Playing poker, for some, is a fun hobby or an effective way to pass the time with your friends. If you want to take your game to the next level, or possibly consider entering some big money tournaments online, then you are going to have to think about strategy. 

Before all of that, however, you need to know the basics of calculating odds so that you can make more rational decisions about when to raise, when to fold, and when to bluff. 

Poker is a game that has developed from a simple comparison game played in the saloons along the Mississippi river in the early 1800s. Back then, players were handed five cards each and the one with the best hand won.

Today, there are dozens of variations of the game of poker, but the one we are focusing on in this article is Texas Hold’Em. 

The History of Texas Hold’Em

Texas Hold’Em is a community card variation of the game of poker, where some of the cards that you can use to create the best hand are shared with the other players in the game. 

For such a popular game, the origin story is a subject of much discussion and contention – nobody can say for definite where it came from and when. Of course, Texans believe that the first Teas Hold’Em game was played in the early 1900s in a town called Robstown in Texas – a fact claimed by the state legislature, no less – but there is little evidence that this is true.

Others claim it was invented by a gambler called T. Blondie Forbes in the late 1920s, and then several famous gamblers of the mid-20th century have claimed origins in Tennessee and as a game called Hold Me Darling. 

Professional poker players began using Texas Hold’Em as their play of choice during tournaments, and the World Series of Poker is built on this version of the game. It is often the first option you are met with when logging in to an online poker operator and it is the variant where you’ll find the most competition.

How to Win at Texas Hold’Em

Essentially, you need to have the best hand to win at Texas Hold’Em. Each card is assigned a value, and each hand (made up of the best five cards available in the community pot and in your hand) has a different worth. 

The best hand is a Royal Flush  – Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, while you can also play a straight, a four of a kind, a full house, or even just a pair and potentially win. In fact, it is not that uncommon for a plyer to win a hand based on one decent card – especially in friendly games. 

The other part of the game, which is often the hardest part, is to be the last one in at the end, with the best cards. This means calculating your odds and deciding whether it is worth continuing to play. 

Pot Odds

The pot odds are the first thing you should consider when it comes to deciding whether you should stay in the game in the first place. 

This is calculated as a ratio of the amount currently in the pot compared to the amount you need to pay to stay in the game. 

If the pot has £200 in it, and you need to pay £100 to call, the ratio (or pot odds) would be 2:1. Most poker aficionados prefer to consider this as a percentage – in this case, it would be 33%. 

Poker Odds

The last part of the equation starts with working out what the probability of any card coming out in any of the stages of the game (known as streets). 

Out of a standard 52 card deck, 50 cards are unknown to you at the start of the game. Two cards are in your hand, so you know that you have those already. 

To work out the probability of a specific card coming out, the odds are 1/50, which is about 2%. So, there is a 2% chance of the card you want coming out on the flop (first round). At the turn the odds increase to 1/47, which is 2.12%. The final stage, the river, is 1/46, which is 2.17%. 

These numbers are not the easiest to work with, so for the sake of clarity (and your own mathematical skill, call it 2% on all streets. 

Next, you are going to want to calculate your ‘out’ odds. These are the odds of cards coming out that will help you create a hand or improve the hand that you have. There could be several different ‘out’ options for you, depending on what is in your hand, so the odds can vary dramatically.

For example, if you have 2 diamonds in your hand, and 2 I the flop, and you are looking to make a flush, then you need to know how likely it is that those cards will come out. You know that there are 13 diamonds in the deck, which gives you 9 outs. Multiply that by 2%, and you get 18% – an 18% chance of making that hand. 

When you know your odds, you are giving yourself the best chance of making an excellent hand – and taking home the pot.