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## Win at Texas Hold’em – Pot Odds, Outs, and Expected Value – How They Relate to Your Wins

The expected value of your Texas Hold’em hand has a lot to do with your pot odds and your “outs,” which are the number of cards needed to improve your hand. “Pot Odds” is a term derived from calculating the amount of money needed to be in the hand compared to the amount of money in the pot. To determine whether or not to call a raise, or whether to raise yourself, you need to know how to calculate the pot odds and compare it to your hand’s odds. When you know how to calculate your odds and your probability of hitting one of the odds, you are able to decide on the bet that will achieve a positive expected value for that hand.

Below is an example of how to calculate your pot odds:

If there is $100 in the pot and you must call a $20 bet to stay in the hand, the pot odds for you are $100 to $20, which scales to 5 to 1 odds. So you risk $20 to gain $100. You need to know the percentage of your bet against the pot with your bet: $20/$120 = 17%. Remember this number.

The reason professional poker players calculate pot odds is to give them an indication of whether a call will result in a positive expected value or a negative expected value. Every poker player has a goal of maximizing their returns and minimizing their risk. Your poker hand gives you the sense of whether calling or folding will help you maximize your return on investment and minimize your risk. Below is an example of how to calculate your exclusion:

Let’s say you have a 9 (spade)-10 (spade) on the hole. The flop comes out 8 (Spades) – 9 (Hearts) – J (Spades). Exclusion calculation is a relatively subjective process, but simple. Count the number of cards left in the deck that will help improve your hand after the flop comes out. You need one spade to give you a flush, and there are nine spades left in the deck, which means you have nine outs so far. Next, you have an open-ended straight draw, which means you only need a seven (4) or a queen (4) to give a straight. Adding eight more outs to the nine gives you a total of 17 outs. You have two more nines you want to include such as hitting a three of a kind with a nine, so add the remaining two nines in the deck to your 17 outs and you get a total of 19 outs. To calculate the odds of improving your hand, simply follow this formula: For up to nine outs, multiply the number of your outs by 4 to equal the % of your drawing of one of the outs. If you have ten or more outs, multiply the number of outs by three, then add nine percent to get your % of one out.

In your case, you would multiply 19 by 3 to get 57, then add nine to get a total of 66%. Believe it or not, with two cards to go, you have a 66% chance of hitting your one out and improving your hand! How does this pot relate to odds?

Determining expected value is all about comparing the pot odds with your hand’s out probability. Going back to the beginning of the example, there was $100 in the pot and you were set to call a $20 bet, which resulted in a 17% (remember?) chance of improving your hand to 66%.

If the odds of improving your hand (66%) are greater than the pot odds (17%), you should always call because you are getting your money’s worth. You’re potentially in a position to win more money than it costs you to stay there and you’re more likely to cash out on the flop or river, so the expected value is positive. In theory, if you used this strategy on every hand you were dealt, your portion of the winnings would be greater than the cost of all your calls.

If the odds of improving your hand are less than the pot odds, you should usually fold because you are not getting your money’s worth. In other words, you are risking more of your money to win the pot according to your hand improvement ability. Suppose you had three outs instead. Your odds of improving your hand will be about 7 to 1 (12.5%), so since your outs percentage is worse than the 5 to 1 odds (17%), you should not risk your money to try to improve this hand, unless you A/K Or you were sitting on a premium hand like Q/Q. This strategy that combines the probability of winning your hand against your betting odds, otherwise known as expected value, can greatly improve your chances of success in poker.

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