STRATEGY

Mistakes Using Odds – Three Common Poker Pitfalls to Avoid

When it comes to playing poker, there are many different strategies that you can use to help improve your game. However, it’s important to note that a lot of these strategies involve some sort of math and calculation. This means that it is possible for you to miscalculate your odds. Instead of playing a hand you think you have good odds in, you may actually be playing a losing hand.  Making these kinds of mistakes using odds is part of your development as a poker player. Like all good students of the game, you should take the opportunity to learn from it.

If you do make these kinds of mistake, you are not alone! These things happen to all poker players at some point – it will be a while before you perfect these strategies. If you’ve just started learning them, though, then you’re in luck! We’re going to discuss some of the most common mistakes made using odds at the poker table. By learning what mistakes can be made, you’ll have a better chance of avoiding these mistakes the next time.

Miscalculating The Ratio Odds Of Draws

Chief among poker mistakes, even with the very top players, is the misuse of your calculated odds for a draw. Many players are figuring their odds in order to see if they can hit them by the final river card. These particular odds might be correct in that situation. However, it is important to understand the implication this has for a bet on the flop.

If you are looking to complete a draw by the river, then your odds are roughly 2:1. The biggest problem, however, is that if we use those odds to debate your bet on the flop, you need to remember that you might have to bet again on the turn or the river. This means that you may end up facing several sizeable bets instead of just one. Instead of using the odds that you find when it comes to the river card, you should work with the odds to complete it with the next card.

As an example, if you have a flush draw on the flop, then your odds of completing that draw by the turn are going to be 4:1. However, your odds of completing it by the river is 2:1.  When looking at what to bet on the flop, use the longer odds.

Miscalculating Percentage Odds

Instead of using the ratio odds discussed above, there are some people that are going to want to use the percentage odds to determine if they should make a call. This method very often brings about a major mistake, especially if you have some experience using the radio method.

What happens in this scenario is that many players will forget to add their call into the pot when working out percentage odds. This is because, with ratio odds, you do not have to add in your own call. However, with percentages, you do. This is why it is so easy to forget this step and miscalculate if you are used to using the ratio odds as mentioned above.

As an example, imagine that your opponent has bet $10 into a $20 pot. This means that once you have added in your opponent’s bet and your bet, the pot is going to be $40. This means your money is going to be 25% of the pot so you should make sure that you use this figure plus your chance of hitting your hand to determine what you should do.

However, one of the biggest problems is that people will forget to add in their own bet and will only do the pot plus their opponent’s bet. This means that instead of 25% in the scenario above, you would get 33%. While it might not seem like much, the difference in that calculation could mean the difference between a profitable winning hand and a devastating losing hand.

Misunderstanding Ratios and Probability

This particular problem is going much less troublesome than some of the other ones that we have talked about. It is very rare that you will mix odds and probability when you are working out draws at the table. However, it is still going to be important for you to know the difference between the two. If you have 1 in 2 odds of hitting a draw, it is slightly different than having a 2:1 ratio.

When it comes to odds such as 1 in 2, you’re going to find that for every two times this event is going to take place, you are going to get the result you want one time out of those two trials. A 2:1 ratio means that for every three times the event takes place, you will get the desired result.

Essentially, for ratios, you need to add the numbers together to figure out how often the event is required to take place. Conversely, with odds given as in y, you don’t, since the total number of events is the y number that you’re given.

Main Considerations

  •  Ensure you’re calculating for the next card you see, not just for the river
  •  Always include your bet into the pot total when it comes to percentage odds
  •  Don’t mix percentages and ratios – the calculation methods are different, so stick to one
  •  A 2:1 ratio means you average the desired outcome once every three times the event happens
  •  1 in 2 odds means you average the desired outcome once every two times

Common Mistakes Using Odds – In Conclusion

Now that you have seen what some of the most common odds mistakes are, you’ll be better protected against them. The reason these strategies exist is simply because they work in the long term. They provide you with a great way to manage what your odds are so you know how you should bet and how high of a chance you have to win the current hand. As helpful as these odds can be, they can be devastating if you miscalculate and make a mistake. If you were to continually evaluate 3:1 as 33% instead of the correct 25%, you’d cost yourself a dollar in every ten.  That’s an expense no player can afford to bear!

By learning about the common mistakes and knowing what you need to do in order to avoid them, you’ll find out that you have considerably more success at the poker table.  We hope our guide to mistakes using odds has helped your poker game, and we look forward to your stories in the comments!

Suggested Reading Material

All of the following articles can help you get your head around odds, outs, and basic betting strategy in poker.  Check them out:

Poker Odds, Implied Odds, And Pot Size 

Betting: When, Why and How

Poker Hands – Official Poker Hand Rankings Order

10 Golden Rules For Beginner Poker Players

Poker Math – Crunching the Numbers in Poker


I am a poker enthusiast who also enjoys sailing, rugby, and gaming. A relative newcomer to the world of online poker, I will be putting our strategy guides to the test as I start the Bankroll Challenge: how far can I get without depositing a single penny? Keep an eye out for updates.


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