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What are the odds?

The poker odds and probabilities for poker hands explained

However you do need to be very careful just how you use odds and probabilities because you are dealing with a constantly shifting dynamic.
This article is going to delve into odds in no limit hold’em and take a look at some of the mistakes that novices make when they estimate hand strength. For example it isn’t difficult to work out that you will be dealt a pocket pair of any sort once in every seventeen hands which means that every time you are dealt cards that the odds are 16/1 against you being dealt a pocket pair. To be dealt a specific pocket pair like A-A then the odds against that happening before the hand is dealt are 220-1.

Don’t fall into the trap

However in certain situations then you cannot use these figures as a guideline. For example the figure of 220-1 includes all of the possible combinations that you could be dealt before the flop which amounts to 1320 combinations. There are six A-A combinations and so 1320 divided by 6 gives us odds of 220-1. But the betting and the range of your opponent will move those odds massively. If you raise from early position and your opponent three bets then you cannot then say that the odds are 220-1 against them having aces.

Let us say that you raise with T-T from UTG+1 and a middle position player three bets you in deep stacked full ring. Suddenly the mentioned data is obsolete and the relevant data becomes our opponents three betting range against an early position opener. Now what if our opponent only three bets with AA-QQ, AKs and AK…..what are their chances of having A-A now? Well there are six combinations of aces, kings and queens which make 18 hands. Plus a further 16 combinations of A-K including A-Ks and so they are re-raising with only 34 possible hands which is now a far cry from the 1320 possible combinations before the flop.

Not as good as it looks

Taking the 34 hands and dividing them by the total number of A-A combinations means that our opponent is only 5.66-1 to have A-A before the flop. If we have T-T though then we are in somewhat of a dodgy position because 18 combinations out of 34 beat us instantly. This means that we are losing more than half the time at 52.9% which is the figure that our opponent will either have AA-QQ. But the other 47.1% leaves us out of position as a marginal favourite which isn’t a good situation to be in either.

The point of the article though is to highlight the odds of your opponents holding certain hands based on some of their betting actions pre-flop and post flop. These odds will differ based on certain factors and many of those factors are dependent on your opponent’s views of poker and their overall risk profile and style. For example many players only call with hands like A-K and do not three bet with them. In this instance then your opponent is 100% certain to be ahead of your T-T because they are holding AA-QQ. The only way you can then call this bet is if you feel that the stacks are deep enough to make a call based on implied odds.

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