The Turn: Pot Odds for Fourth Street

Chips

Players who rely on memorized Hold'em odds and outs, rather than knowing where the numbers come from, limit themselves to playing a game exclusively based on "on the flop" odds.

Although these are arguably the most important odds (as the flop is commonly seen as the most important street in Hold'em), playing profitable poker means making the correct decisions on all streets. A brilliant call on the flop is completely negated by misplaying the turn.

For these players who have merely memorized the flop numbers, they common system they use for the turn is simply cutting the flop numbers in half. Although this will give you an idea of where to start from, it's not exactly a perfect solution.

Pot Odds

Pot odds can be a little bit tricky. Almost everyone knows that a flopped flush draw is about 2-1 to hit, meaning they need better than 2-1 odds to play the hand.

I commonly see players making the mistake of using the same equation for the turn. Let's run a hypothetical scenario:

Liv Boeree
I hear Liv Boeree is impressed by strong odds comprehension.

You're in a $2/$5 game on the button with $500 in your stack, holding A K. Middle position makes a standard raise of $25. You call after it's folded to you; the blinds muck their hands, leading you heads-up to the flop.

Pot: $57

The flop comes 2 T 4 - you've flopped the nut-flush draw. For some reason, poker players seem to ignore odd dead money when calculating the pot size, meaning your opponent ignores the blinds, and views the pot as $50. They bet $50.

Pot: $107

You need to call $50 - you're getting just barely over 2-1 on your money. On straight pot odds you're pretty much breaking even here, but if you hit on the turn you feel you can make a few more bets, plus you might be good if you can hit an ace. You call.

Pot: $157

Turn: [2 T 4] [8]

The pot is now starting to get large. You have $425 in your stack, making the pot over one-third of your stack. This is turning into a sizable pot for the table, with two streets of betting left to go.

Your opponent thinks you might be on the draw, or you have a set and are trapping. In case you're on the draw, they don't want to let you draw for free: they bet $100.

Pot: $257

Now from your experience playing with this player, you now know that they have AA or KK. But since you don't know which one, you can only count on hitting your flush for the win. You have to call $100 to see a river. What should you do?

Most beginner players here make an instant call. The bet is less than the pot, and the pot is going to be nice and large for them if you hit their nut draw.

You're getting 2.57-1 on your money, even better odds than you got on the flop, and it was an easy call on the flop. Seems like it should be an easy call on the turn as well.

In reality, you're 20% to win the pot here (assuming you're up against AA). You're a 4-1 dog, getting 2.5-1 on your money.

Your pot odds here are horrific. Your opponent would have had to bet around $50 for you to make a profitable call here.

An Interesting Brain Fart

Annette Obrestad
Annette Obrestad uses her aggression to manipulate the odds.

The concept of drawing odds on the flop used to mess with my brain when I was a beginner. I used to wonder "How can it be correct to call with +2-1 odds on the flop when you know they will bet the turn again?"

When you think about it, in reality you're only seeing one card, not two, before you encounter another bet.

Your odds for hitting the flush on the turn specifically are about 20%. I figured it made more sense to need 4-1 odds to make a call even on a flop.

My beginner brainwaves are actually logically sound - in reality you are only seeing one card. The reason you can safely call getting better than 2-1 odds on the flop has to do with a whole bunch of factors beyond simple pot odds.

You have to consider implied odds, setups and live-pair draws. Most importantly, you have to consider how often the flop bet is a bluff, semi-bluff or c-bet.

In the majority of these situations, you are going to see a river without a bet on the turn, allowing you to draw two cards for your call. On top of that, you'll actually be ahead of many of these bluffs.

The concept behind this reasoning is this: You do not know what will happen on later streets, you must make the correct choice for the current action with the information you have.

It is simply not possible to play profitable poker on assumptions and hopes.

More tournament strategy articles:

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Harunobu 2013-07-29 12:26:05

Article is wrong on purpose :D

Lance 2013-05-12 04:00:16

I disagree with this article. The article does not take into consideration future money you can make on the river if you do hit your flush. Let's fast forward to the turn: $157 in the pot - player bets out at you $100 - ok yes it is roughly a 20% chance to hit your nut flush, but what the author left out is if we assume he has AA or KK, then that means 50% of the time he will have KK, thereby giving us 3 additional outs, (3 aces). so now you have 12 outs opposed to 9. That increases are chances of winning on the river from 20% to 25%. Now you will hit your hand 1 out of 4 times. It cost you $100 to call making the pot $357 going into the river. All you need to do is bet $50 and have it called on the river to make the call on the turn profitable. Obviously, you will try to bet more here whatever you feel the player may call.

(I understand somebody may say, you can't say you have 12 outs here because he will have AA the other 50% of the time - but lets cancel that out with - he may be holding QQ or JJ - which now gives you 6 outs AAA KKK.)

pat 2012-08-26 09:10:24

'Now from your experience playing with this player, you now know that they have AA or KK.'

Please. You're either Gods gift to poker or you'll playing extremely tight players that don't really exist in real life

LinuxMintyFresh 2011-12-18 14:20:04

Well, I'm very glad I found this article. I have been away from Poker since Black Friday and I am wanting to get back into the action. Since I haven't played for quite a while, and I didn't play Poker at all until I turned 32, I feel the need to start learning all over again.

I was a winning player at NL2 and at $1 and $2 SNGs, but I wasn't able to successfully move up from there which ruined my dreams earlier this year.

Now, thanks to this article, I realize where I went wrong. I was always looking for the Pot Odds necessary to get from the Flop to the Turn. In your example, that would be 4:1. Because of this I was obviously folding to a lot of bluff bets on the Flop. Now I am going to make myself a chart with "Odds - Flop to River" and "Odds - Turn to River."

Thanks for the clarification!

Sean Lind 2009-11-25 09:47:00

Joey,

I recommend you read this article <a href="http://www.pokerlistings.com/strategy/poker-math/how-to-calculate-pot-odds-and-equity-pot-odds">here</a>, if you have any more Q's after, let me know

http://www.pokerlistings.com/strategy/poker-math/how-to-calculate-pot-odds-and-equity-pot-odds

Joey 2009-11-23 13:56:00

Okay,

Help. I can't make heads or tails of this at all. Can you recommend a place/way to understand the odds aspect of this game.

I'm a college educated, math friendly person, but can't seem to wrap my brain around pot odds.

Is it just me?

Thanks,

Joey

Sean Lind 2009-01-17 19:16:00

mseng: I think I've seen the light in two errors I was making. One, for some reason I kept including blinds with calculations, obviously a mistake. And two, your odds of hitting a flush are roughly 33%, or 2-1, meaning getting 3-1 odds on the flop gives you one half a bet above what you need to make money, while on the turn you're 4-1 to make the flush, getting 3-1 odds. So you're missing one full bet in those odds, but add the half a bet surplus from the flop, you're missing 0.5 bets, which is made up by the dead money in the blinds. half a bet = $5, so you're -$5, plus blinds ($5 + $5) and you make $5.

You make $15 if you get $10 after you hit on the river.

Thanks for setting me straight. Old dogs can learn new tricks it seems.

mseng 2009-01-16 20:16:00

1) Let’s say that you flop a flush draw, the small blind bets out. Pot $15, you're getting 3-1 on your money. Assume that your opponent will always be betting on the turn. Let’s call this the “starting position”. According to what you wrote, you must fold. So, following your strategy, you will have zero gain/loss.
Now assume that I call the bet, and if the turn does not give me the card I want, I fold. Then, 4 out of 5 times I will be folding, giving me a loss of $20. However, the one time I will get my card, I will win: $10 (pre-flop pot) + $5 (my opponent’s flop bet) + $10 (my opponent’s turn bet) + probably $10 on the river = $35. If we take out the $20 lost in previous hands, it gives us a profit of $15 (even if my opponent does not bet on the river, I will still make a $5 profit).
So, starting from the starting position, the first strategy gives zero profit, while the second gives a profit of at least $5.
Please advise.
2) The second comment I want to make: Assume that there are 3 on the table, and the pot is $15. You are on the button, and you flop a flush draw. The SB folds and the BB bets $5. Then, you are getting odds of 4-1, so according to your strategy you bet. Then, if the BB bets again on the turn, there will be $35 in the pot, and you will have to bet $10 to get $35, ie odds of 3.5-1 for a chance of approx. 20%, so again you are not getting the right odds, so again you have to fold at the flop.
As before, i would appreciate your comments.

Thanks.

Sean Lind 2009-01-15 17:57:00

mseng:

the 4-1 odds are for only one card.

If you're playing $5-$10 Limit, and you go to the flop heads up big blind vs small blind, the pot is $10.

You flop a flush draw, the small blind bets out. Pot $15, you're getting 3-1 on your money. If you call that planning to go to the river, and small blind bets again on the turn, you're paying $10 into a $30 pot, still 3-1.

The odds on the flop of making your flush by the river will make you money if you're getting 3-1 on the flop, as long as you're paying to see two cards.

Once your opponent bets again on the turn, you're now having to pay 3-1 again, when your odds of hitting a flush on the river are just under 20%, or 4-1.

By calling a draw with 3-1 on the flop heads up, knowing that your opponent will bet, you're getting the worst of the odds.

Add another player into the mix, and now you're doing just fine.

mseng 2009-01-14 23:57:00

I am also confused with the answer you gave to Corey on 02EC08. You said that on a Limit HE, when you have flopped a flush draw, you have to get odds of 4-1 in order to bet. So, to put this in numbers:

Suppose there are $20 in the pot, we are on the flop and my opponent bets $10. I am on a flush-draw, meaning that i have a 35% chance of ending up with a flush. If i call the immediate odds I get are 3-1, so this, combined with the 35% probability of ending with a flush, gives a +ve expected value. Why do you advise us to fold?

Thanks in advance.

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