Efficient odds

When there is only one card to come and only one round of betting remaining, compare your chances of improving to the pot odds, you will get a rather direct proposition. If your chances of making a hand are 4-to-1 against and you call a $20 bet with a possibility to win a $120 pot, then precisely, it is worth a call because you will get 6-to-1 pot odds. This 6-to-1 pot odds are greater than 4-to1 pot odds against making your hand (excluding the bets on the end). Therefore, when there is more than one card to come, you should be prudent to decide your real pot odds. Most of the players make a common mistake: They know their chances of improving, suppose with three cards to come, and they compare with the chances of the pot, which they are getting now. But such a comparison is useless because the players are to put more money in the pot in future rounds of betting, and must take the money into account. It is fact that the chances to make a hand improve widely when there are more than one card to come, but the odds from the pot you get, worsens.

With more than one card to come may decrease your pot odds

Suppose you are playing hold'em and after the flop, you hold a four- flush which makes it sure to win once you hit it. With two cards to come will improve your odds of making a flush to about 1 ¾-to-1. It is a $10- $20 game and $20 in the pot where your single rival has bet $10. You might say that I'm getting 3-to-1 odds and the chances to win are 1 ¾-to-1. And, thus I will call. On the other hand, the 1 ¾-to1 odds to make the flush directs only when you anticipate to look not the next card but also the last card and to have a look at the last card, you would have to definitely call not only $10 but also $20 on the later round of betting. However, when you decide to look a hand that requires an improvement right till the end, you won't say you are getting 30-to-10 odds, as in this case. You can say that "if I lose my hand, I will lose $10 on this round of betting and $20 on the next round. In total I lose $30. If I make a hand, I will win $30 plus $20 on the next round for a total of $50." Suddenly, instead of getting 30-to-10, you will get only 50-to-30 odds which decreases to 1 2/3-to1.

These are the efficient odds - the true odds that you get from the pot when you call a bet with more than one card to come. As after the flop, you get only 1 2/3-to-1 by making a call of a $10 bet and your chances of making the flush were 1 ¾ -to-1, you will have to give away the hand, because the play has converted into a losing play - the play with negative expectations. The right poker strategy concept to play a hand in this situation would be that if you count on your rival to call a bet at the end after you hit your flush card. Then your possibility $50 win increase to $70 giving you 70-to-30 odds and verifying a call.

You can understand from this example that when you estimate odds on a hand you anticipate to play till the end, you should not think of immediate pot odds but of the total amount that you can lose against the total amount that you can win. Ask yourself that if I miss the hand, what will I lose and if I make a hand, what will I gain? The answer for this question will say your true or efficient odds, and this is very good way to play poker.

Let's see exciting and more complicated reasons of efficient odds. Suppose, in hold'em, there is $250 in the pot and you hold back-door flush draw, and your rival bets $10. With a back-door flush you require two in a row of a suit. To be simpler, let's assume that the chances of chasing two successive of a particular suit are 1/5 x 1/5. It is not right but it is more near to it. It means once you hit a flush in 25 on average, you will be 24-to-1 underdog. You will get 26-to-1 if you call your rival's $10 bet. So you may say that "I'm getting 26-to-1and its only 24-to-1 against me. And, so I must call to try to make my flush."

Your estimation is wrong because you do not take into consideration your efficient odds. You will win $260 only one out of 25 times, in addition to another $40 on the last round of betting. When you do not hit your first card, you lose $10 twenty times and you need not call another bet. But the remaining four times, you will lose each time a total of $30 when your first card hits, you call your rival's $20 bet, and second card does not hit. So, after 25 such hands, you work out to lose $320 ($200+$120) though winning $300 for a net loss of $20. Your efficient odds indicates a call on the flop that is played with negative expectation and therefore, inexact.

Circumstances when efficient odds do not apply

There are times when you need not consider future bets while evaluating your pot odds. The first situation happens when either you or your rival is all-in or nearly all-in. Actually, when you do not have money to call or when your rival has no money to bet, the last card will be free. So the only thing to do is to examine your immediate pot odds and compare them to your chances of winding up with the best hand. In the above example, if either you or your rival were all-in when the rival bet $10 on the flop and you call, it would benefit by drawing to your back-door flush, as it would be a matter of getting 26-to-1 on a 24-to-1 shot. Moreover, you should not forget that the chances of making the hand you are drawing to are different as chances of winding up with the best hand. You might make your hand and lose to a better hand.

There is second situation, same as the first, when you can call in close situation even if your efficient odds would specify a fold. When you have a good reason to think your rival might check on the next round. If he checks, you get a free card as though you or your rival were all-in. Again, the only thing to do is to consider your immediate pot odds as you expect to see two cards for the same price of one. Such circumstances may come up when you doubt your rival has a weak hand or when you think your rival fear to bet on the next round because he figure out your call to mean you are tough than you really are, even when you do not chase the card you need.

Sometimes, it would be correct to call to look at one card only when your efficient odds specify a fold. In case if the card does not make your hand, you should not call any more bets. Such situations generally occur in games where there is a huge increase in the bet from one round to the next. For example, you play in a $10-$50 hold' em game and chase a four- flush on the flop. Your rival bets $10 into a $40 pot, and you think he will bet $50 on the next round. Calling for both bets would mean that you are getting efficient odds of 100-to-60, too low for you to consider going all way with a flush draw. However, you are getting 5-to-1 on your rival's first bet, that is, greater than the odds against hitting on the next card (not to say anything about your profits on the last two betting rounds, you should hit the flush). When determining to call for one card only, one thing to contemplate is your immediate pot odds in comparison with your chances of hitting on the only next card.

In many cases, though when you have a hand that requires to be improved, you should make out that future bets would reduce your pot odds, commonly to make you give hand away. Thus, before deciding to go all the way with a hand, you must estimate whether the efficient odds you get by calling many rounds of betting justify a call now.

Estimating efficient odds

Estimating efficient odds sounds a bit complex but it is a case of addition. You add all the calls that you make, assuming you play till the end, to decide the total amount you will lose, if you fail to make your hand. Then make a comparison of this figure with the total amount you can win if you really make your hand. This total is nothing but the money in the pot plus all the future bets you desire to win, exclusive of your own future bets. Therefore, if there is $100 in the pot at this time, and three more $20 betting rounds, you will get $160-to-$60 efficient odds if together you and your rival call all bets. If you think you will not call at the and till you make your hand, your efficient odds become $160-to-$40. And if you think your rival will not call at the end even if your card hits, your efficient odds would decrease to $140-to-$40. In case on early round betting, these pot odds are higher than your chances of making your hand, you are right to look the hand all through the end. If not, you should fold.