Poker Lesson 38

Pot odds, part V: When you have several ways to win
In previous lessons, I have showed you principal examples of when to "accept" pot odds while drawing to a straight or a flush, but also of how you yourself can "set" the odds so as to discourage others from staying in the pot against you with similar drawing hands.

However, do not forget that in Texas hold'em, you sometimes do not have just the draw to a straight or a flush, but also at the same time a draw to something else! One example is when you after the turn (the fourth board card) have both two pairs AND a draw to a flush.

Let us assume that you have K-J of hearts in hand, and that the flop was Jack of spades – Five of hearts – King of clubs, whereupon the turn card was the Eight of hearts.

This is a very favourable situation for you. You now have the top two pair, in Kings and Jacks, and also draw to a flush in hearts. And, please note, you have a draw to a full house: should yet another King or Jack fall on the river, you have hit it!

What are the mathematics of this situation? There remains 46 unknown cards in the deck, out of which no less than 13 will help you: 9 hearts cards, 2 Kings, and 2 Jacks! The card odds are therefore a fairly good 33 to 13 = the equivalent of 2,5 to 1.

If you had had only the flush draw, the card odds (as I have shown you in an earlier lesson) would then have been only 4,1 to 1. (37 cards will not help you, while 9 will.) The situation here thus, with "double draws", motivates that you stay in even if you opponent puts in a heftier bet.

If there are already 600 in the pot and your opponent acts before you and opens for 350, the pot odds for your call are now (600 + 350) to 350 = 950 to 350 = 2,7 to 1. And I am sure that you remember the Cardinal Rule: that if the pot odds are better than the card odds, then put your money in.

If in this situation you had only had the flush draw, the same opening bet from the other player should have caused you to fold.

And having come this far, it certainly does not hurt to repeat an earlier piece of wisdom from these poker lessons: that you in this and similar situations sometimes should consider raising, not just calling! You then have a triple chance to win the pot: (1) by hitting either of your draws on the last card, (2) by perhaps your two pairs being a good enough hand to win in the showdown if none of your draws hit, or (3) by your raise scaring the others into folding!