Pot Odds and Playing Position
Learning how to work out pot odds will help you make the correct decision when faced with calling bets from other players. Pot odds are the odds when drawing to a hand. You can use 'pot odds' to determine if you should call or fold.
Firstly it is important to learn how to calculate your pot odds. To do this, one methodology is to count how many 'outs' you have to win the hand. An out is a card that will make your hand the best hand. There is a simple way to calculate the approximate percentage chance you have of hitting an out on the next card: multiply the number of outs you have by 2 and add 2. Favourable pot odds are when the percentage chances of winning the hand is higher than the percentage of the pot that your opponent has bet. Let’s take an example. Say you have 78 and the board is a 56AQ. You are sure that someone else has at least a pair and that you are losing. You need a 4 or a 9 to make the top straight, therefore there are a total of 8 cards (4 suits of 4 and 4 suits of nine) that would improve your hand so that you make a winning straight. Applying the simple calculation explained earlier, you multiply 8 by 2 (16) and add 2 to make 18. You have approximately 18% or 1/5 chance of making that straight on the next card. You now need to look at the size of the pot. If the pot is 900 chips and your opponent bets 100 chips, taking the total pot to 1000, you will have to bet 10% of the pot if you want to call. So you have 18% chance of hitting the card that will give you a straight, and only need to bet 10% of the pot. This is a situation where you have favourable pot odds, and therefore should call. Using this example further, any bet from your opponent below 180 chips would give you favourable pot odds whilst any bet above 180 would pot odds in your opponents favour.
Sometimes pot odds make it favourable for you to call when only one card will improve your hand. Look at the following situation. You have JQ, the board is showing AK4, the pot is 2000 and you are faced with a bet of 100. Should you call? By working out the pot odds yes. Although you know you can only win with a T that will give you the top straight TJQKA, the percentage chance of hitting that ten is 1/10 or 10% ((4x2)+2). Therefore you are getting odds of 10% by calling a bet that is 5% of the pot. As you become more used to understanding and using pot odds in your favour it will become second nature to work them out!
Probability is an essential skill, when playing texas hold 'em. You should use odds to determine your actions. It is important to know your odds of making a straight or flush. Knowledge of the probability of you making your hand and pot odds are especially essential skills when playing online. Statistics should be a major factor when you decide whether to raise, bet, fold or call.
Another skill that you can learn and utilize to your advantage when playing tournaments is position. The person on the button (dealer) has an advantage because he can see what moves all the other players at the table make before making a decision.
The person to the left of the dealer is the small blind and the person to their left is the big blind. The player to the left of the big blind is first to act before board cards are dealt.
Here are some key tips regarding position assuming you are on a full table.
You must be much more selective when acting in early position before the flop. If you are first or second to act you must remember that there are 8 or 9 players who have yet to decide upon how to act. You should be far more cautious about what hands you call and raise with in this position. It is probably only worth playing if you are willing to call a raise and have a very strong hand. You must also take into account that you will be first to act throughout this hand giving your opponent a distinct advantage of seeing your decision first.
If you are the dealer or in a late position you can play with worse hands than if you have an early position because you get to see what moves your opponents make before deciding how to act. To illustrate the importance of position imagine you are dealt JA and you are first to act. If you look at the ranking of this hand by clicking here(http://www.betfairpromo.com/holdorfold/) you can see that it is ranked 20th out of all possible hold em starting hands. If you call the bet it is highly likely that one of the 9 players behind you will raise you with a hand ranked higher than this. Whereas if you are in a late position you could fold, call or raise with this hand because you will have the distinct advantage of seeing how other players act throughout the hand.
One of the most common moves in poker is by players in a late position stealing blinds. If all the players have folded and you are in a late position it is a very common poker move to make a raise to try and steal the blinds even if you have a bad hand. A lot of the time this play will be successful in picking up some chips. However, if you are on the big blind and you feel that the same player is constantly stealing your blind by raising it may be worth re-raising him. Firstly so he thinks twice before trying to steal your blind again and secondly he will probably lay down a weak hand and you will pick up some chips.