Pot Odds in Poker Explained – The 4 and 2 Rule
“But I was getting odds”
These are words you will hear at almost every poker table you play at. Whether it be from a serious pro, or that noob who just happened to be right; this one time.
If you happen to be that noob, and don’t understand what someone means when they say they were getting the right odds to call, this article is about to explain all you need to know about odds, pot odds and even implied.
We won’t get into much detail about implied odds, as this is a bit more advanced, but well briefly touch the subject so you can have a better understanding of what odds are all about.
The Basics of Pot Odds in Poker
Pot odds are simple in reality. All it means is the size of the bet you need to call, versus the chances of you winning a hand. You need to do a bit of simple math to figure out if the odds are in your favor, but there are a few tricks to keep it super simple that well go over in just a minute.
Poker is a game of math. Most decisions we make are based on if a call will be profitable in the long run or not. If the decision dictates that we will make a profit, we make the right play. And vice versa.
There will be many situations where we have a draw and aren’t sure if we should call or not. This decision will get much easier once you understand what pot odds are all about.
Let’s assume we have the 89 of hearts. The flop brings two hearts and another random suit. We now have a flush draw (obviously).
The pot holds $10 at the moment after all the pre flop action. Our opponent bets into us for $5. The pot now has $15 in it. Simple addition is all you need to know for this part.
We must now determine if a call is correct or not. Instead of just saying, “I have a flush draw, I have to call.” Let’s make the right play using the right thinking.
Finding your outs
First we determine how many outs we have. In the case of a flush, we will have 9 outs. There are 52 cards in a deck. There are 13 suits minus the 2 we hold in our hand and the 2 on the board. This leaves a total of 9 hearts left in the deck, giving us 9 outs.
Now, there’s 2 ways to find out your pot odds in this situation. The first is a bit tricky and not ideal for real time situations. The second is called the 4-2 rule. This rule will get you very close to the correct percentage that you will win the hand. So close that you can disregard the complicated way of finding your pot odds.
To use this method, you multiply the number of outs you have by 4 on the flop and 2 on the turn.
In this scenario, we have 9 outs, so we multiply by 4 giving us 36. This number represents a percentage which equates to 36% chance we have to make our hand. Generally this percent becomes a ratio to make it easier for you to use when playing. 36% is roughly 3.5-1. If the pot is laying you 3.5-1 odds or better, a call is correct.
On the turn, with only 1 card left, we multiply our outs by 2. In this example – 9*2=18. This means we have an 18% chance to hit our flush on the next card.
Let’s say the pot is $15 again and we have to decide whether or not to call that $5 bet to win $15.
We take the pot size and divide it by the bet. 5 into 15 is 3. This gives us 3-1 odds. Since we need to be getting 3.5-1 or better, a call is incorrect and will lose us money in the long run.
This is very basic pot odds and only a beginner’s guide to understand what pot odds are. Odds can get very in depth and we will cover it in more detail in later posts. For now, we’ll let you chew on that and practice for a bit.
Be sure to check back shortly for our next post on pot odds, as we will go into more advanced concepts.
Attached is a chart to help you figure out odds very quickly until you can get the hang of it.
For more Poker Tips – Check out our “Top Mistakes Beginner Poker Players Make – And How to Fix Them“