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Fine Tune Your Game In 4 WEEKS PART 1

Article By: Michael Monroe

For Hold ‘em players, you can be up one game and down the next. The key to improving your game is to keep learning.

You've asked for it, so here it is. We’ve come up with this 4-part series to teach you how to get better at online, no-limit Texas hold 'em tournaments. Try to focus on one lesson each week. Once you’ve mastered the lesson and it is second nature, move on to the next one. That way you will build on your prior knowledge and make your game much stronger.


  • Week 1: Learn how to calculate pot odds. This week’s lesson is essential for anyone serious about playing Hold ‘em.
  • Week 2: Learn how to read other players. Starting small leads to big advantages later on.
  • Week 3: Learn how to be tight-aggressive. Of all the playing styles, a tight-aggressive player is the most effective over the long term.
  • Week 4: Learn how to keep learning: The game is incredibly complex, and to get better you need to expand your knowledge base.

How to Calculate Pot Odds

If you’re intent on becoming a better poker player, one of the quickest ways to do this is learn how to calculate pot odds. I know, the idea of figuring out a bunch of mathematical calculations is something that gives you cold shivers. But fear not. We’ll show you a quick and simple method you can use.

Pot odds are a ratio. Once you determine the correct ratio, you can use that to determine what amount you can bet to stay in the hand. If you have to call an amount in excess of the pot-odds, you are usually better off folding. If it’s less, you can safely call or raise.

Step 1: Figure the Outs:

To determine the number of outs, you first need to determine what will make your hand. For example, if you are dealt 9-10 suited, and the flop comes 8-7-A rainbow, you have 8 outs to make the straight. Why? There are 2 cards that can make the straight; 6 and J of any suit. Since none of these cards are exposed, that means there are 8 cards in the deck that can give you your hand.

Learning how to recognize outs is your first step in calculating pot odds. You need to be sure of these numbers or everything else is meaningless. Don’t try to figure out what other people may have in their own hands for now, just learn what the possibilities are.

Step 2: Determine Your Chances:

To quickly determine the chance you have at hitting your hand, multiply your outs by either 4 (after the flop) or 2 (after the turn) to determine your percentage. For example, in the hand above you have 8 outs after the flop. To determine the rough percentage of making your hand, just multiply by 4. (8 x 4 = 32%) This means you have a 32% chance of making your hand by the river.

Step 3: Find the Pot Odds:

To determine what you can or can’t bet on a hand, you need to divide the bet amount by the would-be pot amount. So, you are trying to decide whether to cal a $200 bet when the pot is $1,200. That makes the would-be pot amount $1,400. To determine the pot-odds, take the amount you need to call ($200) and divide it by the would-be pot. This is: $200/$1,400 = .14 = 14%.

Step 4: Compare the 2 Percentages:

Now that you have the pot odds and percentage to hit your hand, you can figure out what is a worthwhile bet. For our example, the chance of making your hand is 32%, and your pot-odds are 14%. If the pot odds are less than the chance of making your hand—as they are in this case—you can make the call. However, if the pot odds are greater than the chance to win, you’re probably better off folding.

Now, it takes time to get used to making these calculations. Try to get into the habit of thinking in terms of odds ratios or percentages. You should know how to convert back and forth between the two. Once you get some practice and can calculate these numbers with ease, your game will improve dramatically.