Pot odds. What could be more important?

In poker, when playing any hand, there are many factors to consider before making a decision. The strength of your hand, your position, the capabilities and style of opponents - all this must be weighed before deciding whether to put chips in the pot. But there are two more factors that are much more important than all the others. This is the current pot size as well as the expected pot size at the end of the game.

These are the most important moments of the game. Nothing else beats them. To understand the reasons for this, take a look at an example. In the small blind you are holding closed threes and three more players. The pot was not increased before the flop. The flop is T-8-4. You check, the big blind bets, the other two players call. Without question, the most sure thing for you is to pass at this moment. Almost certainly your hand has already been beaten, and you only have a 1 in 22 chance of improving to a three. Excellent players always have completely different points of view about playing a particular hand, but you have to look hard for a strong player who can find reasons to call in this situation.

Now, imagine that you are in the small blind again, with the same threes, but already eight players are in the game, each of whom made four bets before the flop. The flop comes T-8-4, you check, the big blind bets, everyone else calls. What are you doing? Of course you call. If you hit a three on the flop, you will most likely make the best combination, and there are already 43 small bets in the pot. And since you have a "whole" one out of 22 chances that you will get the right card, it shouldn't be difficult for you to call now. As hard to find a pro to support the call in the first example, it is difficult to find a pro to support the pass in the second. When the ratio of winnings to the initial bet is 42: 1, and your chances of hitting the combination are 1:22, then you are in big winners if you are lucky. Therefore, calling is mandatory here as well as passing in the first example.

Note that in these examples, the size of the pot overshadows everything else. And in the first example, it doesn't really matter how your opponents are playing or the fact that your position is weak, because even if you were on the button and playing with the weakest opponents, you would still have to fold. The second example is the same. Even playing with the world's biggest names, you would have called despite the inconvenience of early position. In general, very, very rarely you will be guided by "secondary" reasons, and not by the size of the sweat. And the size of the pot will often be more important than any other consideration. In poker, it's all about the size of the pot. And you will be a whole head ahead of your opponents by learning how to effectively assess the size of the pot and clearly understand its impact on the hand.

In this article, we will look at three different methods for assessing sweat, and show which ones - alone or in conjunction with each other - to apply in different situations. These three methods are:

1) determination of the bank's chances at the current moment;

2) identification of potential chances;

3) determining the reverse potential odds of your hand.

Pot odds

Calculating pot odds and what that means for your hand is not difficult. All that is needed for this is to determine how much money is currently in the bank and how much it will cost you to maintain the bet. Example: you have closed QA, after three players have prolimped, you raise the bet. Both blinds fold and three players call your raise. The flop comes T-7-3. The first player bets, the second calls, the third folds. It's your turn. What are the pot odds?

If you answer 11.5: 1, you will be right. Before the flop, you and your three opponents made 2 bets each. Both blinds fold, adding another 1.5 bets to the pot. After the flop, another player added a bet and the caller did the same. That adds up to 11.5 pot bets. And since it will cost you one bet to call, the odds are 11.5: 1.

It is important to know the immediate odds of the pot as they give you the basis for making further decisions. But just counting the odds of the pot is not enough to be completely sure of the correctness of your decision. Also, you need to estimate your potential odds, as well as the possibility of reverse-potential odds. In order to do this, you need to (usually) have an understanding of your opponents' play. Usually, the worse your opponents play, the better your potential odds, and vice versa, the stronger they play, the more likely the inverse potential odds are.

Now let's look at the potential and reverse potential odds, which are much more difficult to calculate.

Potential odds

In order to calculate the potential odds, you need to add up the current pot odds and the number of bets that you hope to win if you buy the right card. In games like No Limit Hold'em, the whole point of the game is calculating potential odds, because very often you can turn to your advantage when you build an unlikely combination and your opponent has a mountain of chips in front of him, and at the same time he is determined to call everything. big bets even with very weak hands. For example, in a no-limit game with 2-4 antes, playing heads-up, you might call a $ 15 bet with something like fours in hand before the flop if there is a lot of money and your opponent is holding tight to his hand, because, you have a good chance of breaking it if you flop a three. Although the odds are 1.25: 1 after the pre-flop call (assuming the blinds fold), calling is still the right decision if your opponent has three hundred bucks or more chips, because you get a good opportunity to take his entire stack from him. lucky you the flop. Although the pot odds are only 1.25: 1, and the odds of getting the card you want are 8: 1, it seems that if you are lucky, you won’t win much. But if, when you get the card you want, you capture $ 300, that means that after the pre-flop call the potential odds are 20: 1.

In limit poker, the effect of potential odds is not as pronounced as in no-limit, because you cannot beat your opponent all of his chips. But still, you should not neglect them. Example: You have 6-7 and call on the button after five players have done the same. The small blind folds and the big checks. The flop comes Q-5-3. The big blind folds, the next player bets, and everyone else folds. At first glance, it seems that here you just need to fold, because you have a 1 in 11 chance to buy a four on the turn, and there are only 8.5 small bets in the pot. But think about what will happen if you get a four. Your opponent will likely bet, giving you the opportunity to raise. There is a rainbow on the table, which means no one can make a flush, so a four will make your hand an absolute candy. If your opponent has a queen or better, then he will probably call your bet (or even re-raise and thus allow you to make a fourth bet). After the river, he will probably call your bet, which will cause you to break the pot with 14 small bets. And since it will cost you one small bet to play this hand, and the odds of buying the right card are 11: 1, the potential pot odds are 14: 1, which is pretty good against 11: 1.

As mentioned, the worse your opponent plays, the better your potential odds, because he will take longer than a good player to stay in the game with the second strongest hand. In the above example, it is not at all uncommon to see a bad player maintain bets after the turn and river with hands such as hole nines or A-5. And by playing with a bad player, you can expand the list of hands that he will play and, accordingly, increase the potential chances, since he will almost certainly give the initiative in your hands.

Counting potential odds is not an exact science, because you cannot predict with certainty how many bets your opponent will allow you to make if you have a strong hand. But you can get a more or less clear idea of this by looking at how your opponent played the previous games. By playing with an opponent who perfectly understands when he is defeated and plays accordingly, you reduce your potential chances. And in a game with a maniac or a sucker, you can easily count on much more.

Reverse Potential Odds

When we talk about reverse potential odds, we mean situations where you can lose much more by losing than you can win by winning. And here's an example of such a situation:

You are in the button position with the queens concealed in your hands. Everyone except the player to your right folds. The one to your right calls. You raise, the small blind folds, and the big blind - a great player - keeps the bet. The player to your right does the same. The flop comes 9-9-3. The big blind checks, the one on the right bets and you raise it. The big blind calls and the bettor folds.

Now let's stop for a second and take a closer look at the situation. You raised before the flop, which didn't look like trying to steal the pot (because there was already one caller before you), and a great player called from the blind. Up to this point, you have played strong and straightforward (which is, in general, not bad), and you assume that the big blind noticed it. Then, after a trivial flop, the cool player checks. The next one bets and you raise. Given that the pre-flop raise didn't look like trying to steal the pot, and that after the flop you raised after the bet had already been made, what combinations could a great player have that made him cold-call to support two bets? Remember that the pot is small, which means it doesn't wait for the turn to come up with an unlikely hand. And most likely, he does not have a good-but-vulnerable hand, such as closed tens, since if that were the case, he would have made a third bet at that moment (or would have bet right after the flop), hoping to get someone out of the game or take the bank now.

Of course, it is impossible to find out what he really has there, but: no good player in such situations will "pull the rubber" with hands like A-5 or JT. Of course, foolish players will easily call with something like this, but not a player who is aware of what he is doing. This means that the list of possible combinations in your opponent's hands has been significantly reduced. And unfortunately for you, this list consists mostly of hands that leave no chance for your pair of ladies.

The above game is a typical example of a reverse potential odds situation. If your opponent turns out to have a hand weaker than yours, then after the turn he will most likely fold it, which means that you will no longer be able to draw anything out of him. Well, if your hand is weaker, then he will either check-raise after you, or draw out of you after the turn, and also press on you after the river. Thus, if you are not the favorite, then you will have to pay a lot of money in order to finish the game, but at the same time, if you win, you will not win much, because everyone else will stop investing money in the bank as soon as they realize that your hand is the strongest.

If your hand has good potential odds, then you should happily invest in the pot. And following the same logic, you shouldn't invest money if you notice a threat of a situation with backward potential chances. Does this mean that you need to check after the turn if your opponent did that? Maybe yes, maybe not. It all depends on the level and class of the enemy. But this option is really worth considering.

Note that when playing with a bad player, you can bet after the turn with a clear conscience, because he may have a whole constellation of the second strongest combinations in his hands. But with a good player, it's very different. Therefore, it is much more common to expect a situation with inverse potential odds when playing with good players, since they rarely go all the way with the second strongest hands.

Pot odds. As the title of this article suggests, nothing is more important. This, of course, is not a magic wand that will bring you victories, but the ability to calculate your chances and, in connection with this, choose the right tactics, will undoubtedly help you get up from the table in the black.

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