POKER TIPS & STRATEGY

The Game Is Changing, but Poker Odds Remain Constant

By Tadas Peckaitis
June 01, 2024

The game of poker has changed a lot over the years. Strategies have evolved, computers have entered the scene in a big way with the introduction of solvers, and many things we once thought were correct have been completely debunked or heavily modified.

In all of this, however, one thing has remained constant: poker odds.

How different hands stack up against each other is at the very core of poker, and every strategy, no matter how complex or advanced, refers back to these essentials.

This is very important for those picking up the game today. It is easy to fall into the trap of focusing on advanced strategies while disregarding the essentials. The first thing you should learn after the basic rules is fundamental poker odds, and there are some great poker odds calculators that can help you with that.

poker math

Image credit: pokeronamac.com

Poker Odds: A Fundamental Block in Your Learning Process

At its very core, poker is a game of math and numbers. Everything you do at the tables is based on the assumption of your opponent’s ranges (i.e., cards they’re likely to hold), and how your hand performs against those ranges.

For example, if you have a set and you think your opponent has a flush draw, you need to know how likely they are to hit one of their cards. This number will tell you how to properly size your bets and make it not profitable for them to call.

As you play and accumulate experience, pot odds and other numbers will become second nature to you. However, to start with, you need to spend some time playing with an odds calculator and learning at least about some of the most common situations.

I’ll admit that this isn’t the most exciting thing in poker, and you might be itching to get in the action. But without learning these basic odds, you won’t be able to achieve the results you’re looking for, and that’s a guarantee. Investing a little bit of time in it today will pay off massively in the long run.

Essential Poker Odds You Need to Know

There are no mysteries when it comes to poker odds. You can compare any two cards to each other, and you’ll get a number expressed as a percentage. If a calculator tells you the number is 70%, that means that you’ll win a particular hand 70% of the time and lose 30%.

Of course, it would be crazy to try and remember every single possible scenario. Instead, you should start by learning some common spots and take it from there. From this knowledge, you’ll be able to extrapolate some solid guesses about other spots that you may not necessarily know by heart.

Basic Preflop Odds

Your Hand Opponent’s Hand Odds of Winning
Higher pair Lower pair 80.3% (ex. AA vs. 99)
Two higher cards A pair 55% (ex. AK vs. 88)
Higher + lower card A pair 28.6% (ex. A8 vs. 99)
Two lower cards A pair 17.3% (ex. 89 vs. JJ)
Two higher cards Two lower cards 63% (ex. AQ vs. 78)

 

Just like preflop odds, you should know how different hands stack up once the flop is dealt. This tells you how likely you are to hit your draws and how likely your opponents are to out-draw you when you have a made hand.

Crucial Postflop Odds

Your Hand Opponent’s Hand Odds of Winning by the River
Pair Naked flush draw 63%
Pair Open-ended straight draw 66%
Pair Gutshot straight draw 80%
Set Naked flush draw 75%
Set Open-ended straight draw 75%
Set Gutshot straight draw 85%

 

Numbers in these tables are approximation, as percentages can change slightly depending on whether you’re holding same suits and similar factors, but they should give you a pretty solid idea of where you’re at in a hand and how to proceed.

It’s a Long Road Ahead

If you’re just learning poker odds, there is a long road ahead before you become a winning player. However, you’re taking a very important first step and one that many casual players never really take. This is one of the reasons there are players who have been playing the game for decades and still make very basic mistakes time and time again.

Learning poker hands odds isn’t hard or particularly time-consuming, and poker can teach you a lot of additional skills for everyday life. Yet, the difference between knowing and not knowing is huge, so don’t skip on this essential step on your journey to learn poker!

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Tadas Peckaitis poker author
Written By.

Tadas Peckaitis

Tadas Peckaitis is a professional poker player, author of the free poker book “Play ‘A’ game and be the boss at your poker table”, and poker coach at mypokercoaching.com. He is also a big fan of personal effectiveness and always trying to do more. Tadas shares his knowledge about both of these topics with his […]

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