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Understanding Pot Odds with the Devilfish

Pot odds is an important part of Poker, so here's Dave "The Devilfish" Ulliott to explain it:

Question: Can you explain pot odds, in general?

Answer: Pot odds is all about getting the right price when you put your money in there: For instance, if you have a flush draw, you're just over a 2-to-1 chance, so if you are getting over 2 to 1, then you should be in the pot. Obviously, if you are 2 to 1 on something, and you are getting 4 to 1, it's a lot better. There's no point in being in there on an even money chance if you are a 2-to-1 chance. You always want to be getting the better price.

You also have implied odds, which means that all of a sudden you hit some back-door hand. You've maybe got a straight draw on the flop, and now a spade comes over on the turn, and you have picked up a flush draw, too. So, now you have implied odds, because not only have you picked up a lot better draw, but also if the flush comes, he's not going to put you on it, so you would probably get paid off. You get implied odds there, too.

Question: How do you know when the pot is right to call a big bet?

Answer: I've got my own way of doing it. Let's suppose I've got seven outs on the flop. I usually multiply it by 3.8, or essentially 4, which means it's 28; then I take off two, which means I am going to win it roughly 26% of the time. It's just a real nice rule of thumb, a way of doing it. Now, if I miss it on the turn, which gives me one more chance of getting it, I've now got to multiply my seven cards by 2.2. So multiplying it by 2 is 14, add 2, equals 16 and roughly 16% of the time I'm going to win the pot. So, that's how I do it.

Question: If you aren't quick with math, can you still be successful?

Answer: Oh, yeah, yeah. I would say 70% of the poker players out there aren't good at math. Probably, well, at least 50%, especially in no-limit hold'em. There is a lot of luck and aggression involved. Luck and aggression are the main factors, and are a lot more important in no-limit hold'em.

Question: What is included in pot odds? Is it your chips invested as well?

Answer: Pot odds is simply about making sure you are getting the right price when you put your chips into the pot. If you are not getting the right price, then you should fold. It's as simple as that. But as I said, there are implied odds: Is he going to call after you make your hand? If 10-J is out there, and you have K-Q, and a 9 comes off, or an ace comes off, there is a good chance that he is going to put you on K-Q and throw the hand away. But if it's draw, where you think he might call you at the end, for instance, you have a double belly-buster (it's the same as an up-and-down straight draw, but different, it's not as obvious to anybody), there is a good chance that he will pay you off at the end of that. It all depends on the situation and getting the right price on your money.

Question: How important is it to your game to know the pot odds?

Answer: I play a lot of pot limit, but I think in no-limit, aggression and being lucky are the main keys. But obviously in pot limit, it's slightly more important.

Question: How do pot odds compare to being pot-committed?

Answer: Pot-committed means that you are getting the right price, simple as that. You are getting the right price, which is why you are pot-committed.

Question: Can you give an example of being pot-committed?

Answer: You've got $40,000 left, and you've raised it $20,000. He calls your 20, and he raises you all-in, for instance´┐Ż something like that. You've got 20 left, and you're now getting 3-to-1 on your money, so you've got to call. Let's just say you have A-6. Assuming he hasn't got aces, you are about an 11-to-4 chance. You are thinking he's got a pair of kings, queens, jacks, and then you've got an 11-to-4 chance to catch the ace in five cards. So you are 11-to-4, and you are getting 3-to-1 on your money. You have to make a stand at that point.

And make a stand he does. The Devilfish continues to show success, making final tables at the WSOP and finishing in the top 10 for Player of the Year in 2006.

With the help of poker odds calculators, the complex, time-consuming poker odds math is done for you, while you can concentrate and play an optimal game of poker.

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