Poker Lesson 40

Pot odds, part VII: The card odds after the flop
You should by now be aware of the Cardinal Rule concerning drawing hands (in the wide sense of the word): That if the pot odds are better than or equal to the card odds, then you should put your money in.

In the previous lessons, I have analyzed several examples which occur after the turn (the fourth card on the board) where you have a drawing hand. When only the fifth board card remains, it is a pretty simple affair to figure out the card odds, by knowing which of the unseen cards in the deck will help you and which cards will not.

But when the flop has just landed, two cards remain – not just one. You thus have two chances of hitting your draw, either on the turn or on the river. What are the card odds now for your draw?

Here is a list of a number of typical drawing hands in hold'em, and the respective chances of hitting those draws, provided you stay in the pot to look at both the fourth and the fifth board cards:

To trips (you have for example 9-9 and the flop is Q-7-3 and you want a third 9): 8,4%, corresponding to card odds of about 11 to 1.

To an inside straight (you have for example J-10 and the flop is 2-9-K and you want a Q) or a full house (you have for example K-Q and the flop is K-Q-4 and you want either another K or another Q): 16,5%, corresponding to card odds of 5 to 1.

To an open-ended straight (you have for example J-10 and the flop is 2-9-Q and you want either a K or an 8): 31,5%, corresponding to card odds of 2,2 to 1.

To a flush (you have for example two diamond cards in hand and the flop gives you another two diamonds and a heart card): 35%, corresponding to card odds of 1,9 to 1.

To both a straight and a flush (you have for example 9-10 of hearts and the flop is J of hearts – Q of spades – 8 of hearts and you will be helped by either another heart card or a non-heart 8 or a non-heart K): 54,1% to at least a straight, corresponding to card odds of 0,85 to 1.

To an open straight flush with two overcards (you have for example K-Q of spades and the flop is J of spades – 10 of spades – 5 of clubs, and you make the assumption that not only a finished straight or flush will win the pot, but also another King or Queen for top pair): about 70%, corresponding to card odds of 0,4 to 1. Here you must however be careful, since even if you make top pair you may be beaten by another player holding two pairs or trips!

If you have a draw to a strong straight flush after the flop, it is nearly always correct of you to open the betting, or to raise or re-raise another player. There is hardly any better possible draw, and you then want to build up the pot as a ground rule!

I once again emphasize that the numbers above assume that you stay in to look at BOTH the turn and the river – but in real life you must always be prepared to re-evaluate the situation after the turn, when you see how the betting goes. And it is not always to your advantage to hit your draw! More about that subject in the next lesson.