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September 07, 2005

What Are The Odds??? Part 1

Posted at September 7, 2005 01:40 PM in Poker Strategy , by Sack.

So there we are, yelling at the screen like somebody stole something. We do that because, well, they did! How could they make that call with just a draw? How could they suck out like that? I had the best hand and that ass got lucky! What a horrible call that was... or was it really?

How many times have you dropped your jaw with nothing more to say than, "Wow, what are the odds of that?" Well, I've got a few for ya to post today. This is not my research, I do not claim it as 100% accurate, and you online poker conspiracy theorists don't have to read it. The following are mathematical probabilities. Remember, things such as gravity are facts. Things such as the chances of gravity dropping an acme safe on your head would be a probability. So, in summary even though there is a strong probability of something happening, it doesn’t mean it will. Case and point, as I write this I just got put out of a tournament I was running strong in by two hands. One was my AA vs. AK, the very next hand was my JJ vs. 55. Both cases I am a strong… ahem VERY strong favorite, yet I lost both hands to the same person and got put out in 11th place. I made the right decision on both hands, and it just didn’t work out. So anyway, here are a few PROBABILITIES that can be very useful:

You have A-K. The odds of you hitting either your ace OR your king by the river is 32% This is actually true for any two unpaired cards in your hand, but AK is just such a pretty example

Four flush completing: What this means is say you have two suited cards in your hand, and on the flop 2 more of your suit comes out. There is about a 39% chance that a fifth card of that suit will come out on the turn or the river to complete your flush. Personally I will usually chase a flush all day long as long as it’s cheap to do so. Often times if I’m early in the betting I would bet out at the flush draw, hoping to take down the pot then. If I do get caller(s) I still have outs and can also still get out of the hand if need be. Another reason for betting the flush draw in early position is it can often keep the price as you want it. If you check down, someone else may try to buy the pot with a big bet or even bet strong with the best hand at the time. If you bet a small “feeler” bet, many times they will question their hand and possibly just call your price. In late position, I’ll usually go ahead and check it down taking the free card. That’s just my personal style, you play however feels right to you on those.

Open ended straight completing: This is about the same as the flush draw. You have 10-J. The flop comes 6-Q-K. You have a 34% chance of completing your straight by the river. Basically that means that one out of every three times you have this hand either a 9 or an Ace will come on the turn or river to complete your straight.

Open ended straight flush completing (a straight OR flush) by the river: OK, you have 8-9 of hearts. The flop comes 2 clubs, 10 heart, Jack heart. Right now you really HAVE nothing, but in most cases you will be a favorite to win the hand. In fact you have a 54% chance of completing a straight or a flush when all is said and done here, and usually you will have the best hand.

Your pocket pair improving to 3 of a kind on the flop: Mathematically every 8th time you get that pretty pocket pair, the flop with give you a set (trips, three of a kind). That’s about 12%. If you don’t hit it on the flop, there is about a 9% chance that you will hit it on either the turn or the river. This is why low and middle pocket pairs are so hated. Any pocket pair is always tempting to play, but it’s also hard to get away from. The payoff can be great if you do hit a set, but you can also blow a lot of chips in pursuit of that big payoff. Also watch that board, all those odds don’t apply solely to you. If you do hit your trips on the flop, but two spades are out there, and someone else is holding spades, there’s a 39% chance they’ll hit that flush (remember?). If it’s a rainbow flop (all different suits), I’ll always slow play three of a kind unless there is a very loose player that I know will call. If there is a good drawing hand for someone else out there, I USUALLY push it hard to at least make them pay for their next card or two. Again, that’s my style and it doesn’t have to be yours.

So there is a few of the basic, more common situations you may find yourself in. Learn your chances and use them to your advantage. And then next time your aces lose to a flush on the river and you yell out, “damn, what are the odds???” You can then say “ah yes, it was roughly 39%”. Then proceed with your best Incredible Hulk impersonation.

Odds of me making a profit today: 0%

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