When you’re trying to play online poker seriously, it definitely helps to bring a little math into the equation. Of course, you will need to make sure that you know what math you’re using, as well as how the mathematics of online poker actually helps you.
Of course, you could go your entire poker career without using any type of mathematics at all, but there are some serious benefits for actually going to get some of the mathematics of online poker under your belt. For starters, you will immediately know whether or not you should enter a pot or if you should step out of the pot and let the other players attack it. This is actually part of the greater subject of bankroll management, since the wise player will automatically make sure that they will be able to preserve their capital. You don’t want to go all in on a pot that you can’t win, nor do you even want to bet aggressively when the odds aren’t in your favor.
So, how do you calculate your pot odds?
There are two situations where you will want to calculate your pot odds — when you’re on a flush or a straight draw. It’s tempting to try to ride out a pot when you see the possibility or a flush or a straight.
You can work out whether or not you should pursue things using the percentage method, which is what you might be familiar with from televised poker tournaments.
If you hold a 9-7 and the flop is 6-8-A, then you have the potential for a great straight. Your opponent might bet $30, to bring the total pot to about $90 (hypothetically).
The first thing that you do with the percentage method is to make sure that you actually calculate the card odds. You need to figure out how many cards that give you the straight that you need. In a standard deck, that would be 8 — also considered “outs”.
You need to find the percentage chance that you will have a straight on the next card, which means that mathematically speaking; you must make sure that you double the outs, and then add 1. Working out this math means that you would essentially have a 17% chance of making the straight.
However, this is not the only step — you must compare it with the pot odds before you make a decision. The pot odds are pretty simple. Remember that we assumed our opponent bet $30, which brought the pot to $90. You would need to call $30, which would bring the pot to $120.
In order to figure out the pot odds, you have to add in the bet that you called, as well as the pot already in play. This means calculating from $120, not just $90 — this is an important point to remember, because it can really throw off your odds.
$30 is 25% of 120, which essentially puts your pot odds at 25%, and your card odds at 17%. As you might imagine, this means that it would be better to fold than it would be to push forward with your bet. You would be losing money. Now, there is something to be said about luck — even though your odds are low, there is always that chance that you really will get the straight. However, do you really want to play on emotion? This is a great way to go…if you want to lose lots of money. Now, if you really want to win good money you will need to start using math to really increase your pot winnings and become a smarter poker player overall.