When to Fold, the Odds in Poker
December 9, 2009
Hold them or fold them. Knowing the time to fold is the key to the game of poker. How do you determine when you should fold? You are looking at the hand and trying to determine if what you have can beat what everyone else has. That is calculating the odds and making a decision based on what the outcome is likely to be. Sometimes that is easy and sometimes it is very complex. If you are using just cards that are in your hand to calculate your next move then you are not using all the information available to you.
Let’s take a look at what this looks like. You are playing Hold’em. The game is $1 and a max bet of $2. Six players and you are the last better. No surprise, $6 in the pot. Your hand shows a ♣A-Q and the flop is a ♣K-♣Q-♣6. So you know you are sitting on a pair of ladies and an ace high flush is still possible.
The next rounds of bets go $1. Two call and two fold. So do you raise, call or fold? If one player is sitting on a king your hand is in trouble. What do the unseen cards, outs, hold? The cards in the hands of the other players are cards you will not get. When you start to figure out what cards are out there you need to include the unseen cards. So the math is simple. How many cards can improve your hand? Two ladies could help, three aces could help, and any club will do it. That is 2+3+9, the two queens, the three aces and the nine remaining clubs. There are 47 cards you have not seen or 14 out 47 cards can help you on the turn and 33 will not help you. So you are looking at 2.4 to 1. This comes from dividing 14 in to 33. The exact numbers are not important to know your next step.
For the pot to be worth the risk there needs to be more than 2.4 times the amount you need to risk (the call). You need a reward of $2.40 or more to make it worth while. The risk is $1 and the pot has $9 in it. The odds are paying 9 to 1 which are significantly better than the 2.4 to 1 you need so call. As you play the odds will start to come as second nature. You can practice by dealing some hands with no players and calculating the odds and then looking to see how it goes.