In any gambling game the player has to constantly evaluate the payout with the actual odds of the favorable event occurring. If the payout is better than the actual odds then it makes sense for the player to go ahead with the wager.

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This concept also applies to online poker. The player has to constantly evaluate the payout and the actual odds of getting what he perceives to be a winning hand. Pot odds determine the payout and are relatively simple to calculate. Assume there is $100 in the pot and the bet to be called is $20. This implies that if the player stakes $20 at that point in the game and wins the hand he will win $100. Hence his pot odds are 100 to 20 or more simply stated 5 to 1. The more expert players factor in future expected betting into the pot odds.

The actual odds of getting a winning hand are much more difficult to calculate. The first problem that arises is that the online poker player does not know his opponents’ cards and therefore can never be certain of what will be a winning hand. Therefore based on the betting he has to estimate what could reasonably be a winning hand. For example assume the player holds the four of clubs (4C) and the four of hearts (4H). The flop has 6S, 7D and 10C. The flop is useless but the player can get three of a kind if he gets either 4S or 4D on the river or on the turn.

If the player feels that three of a kind with 4s can be a winning combination then he needs one of two cards. Such cards are called “outs”. Hence the first thing the player has to do is estimate the number of outs required. If a player holds the 2H and the 9H and the flop has 3H, 5D and 7H, then the player could hope that a flush would enable him to win. Any of the 9 remaining hearts in the river or turn would give him a flush and therefore he has 9 outs.

As is evident from the above examples this exercise is done only after the flop is down. There are so many possibilities at the pocket card level that estimation of odds becomes impractical. Though the estimation of getting one of the outs either at the turn or at the river can be done mathematically, the player is not required to do so. Not all players are mathematically inclined and in any event the poker table is not the place to test ones mental mathematics skills. You’ll find the less skilled players at many of the US Online poker Rooms on the internet.

These calculations have been done and tabulated and can be accessed from any good poker book or web site. And players need remember the odds for from 1 out to 15 outs to start with. Situations that have more than 15 outs would be rare. These odds are often referred to as poker odds. In any given situation the player should make the bet only if the pot odds are greater than the poker odds.

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