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Card odds are a fact of life. They are based only on probability and are statistically undisputable. Want to be a winner? While poker psychology, luck and tells can help, the odds predominate – when used properly. The lower the odds against you, the better chance you have of emerging victorious.

Here are my favorite card odds, based on the likelihood you will often encounter these situations. More than anything else, how you use these odds will determine your results as you play poker. We call these our “card odds.” They are the odds – rounded off – against connecting (hopefully) to the best hand as the rest of the cards are dealt face-up on the board.

• With a non-pair in the hole, the odds against pairing up on the flop: 2-to-1. Remember, this applies to everyone at your table. That’s why it pays to start with high cards.

• Starting with a pocket pair, the odds against catching a set on the flop: 8-to-1.

With those odds, a multiway pot (three or more opponents staying in the hand) is best; then, should you make your set, you can build – and win – a good-size pot.

• Starting with two suited cards in the hole, the odds against flopping two more cards of that suit: 8-to-1. It would be best if you had a suited Ace, King or Queen in the hole, in case another player also has two of the same suit. Small suited cards usually should be folded.

• With four-to-a-flush on the flop, the odds against completing the flush on the turn or river: 2-to-1. At this point, just call along, unless three or more opponents pay to see the turn before you must act. Then, making a raise is a wise move, adding to your Positive Expectancy.

• Holding an open-end straight draw on the flop, the odds against completing the straight on the turn or the river: 2-to-1.

• Holding a gut-shot straight draw on the flop, the odds against completing the straight on the turn or the river: 5-to-1. Usually, fold this hand, unless you also have two overcards to the board, and it’s a multiway pot.

• With two overcards to the board, the odds against pairing one of these: 3-to-1. It’s best to pursue this hand when you are also drawing to a straight or flush.

• With A-K in the hole, the odds of flopping another Ace or King: 2-to-1. Most players would likely raise with this premium made hand. We prefer to just call along to see the flop. Based on the flop, opponents’ post-flop bets, and your position, you can then make better decisions as you play the rest of this hand.

• Holding two-pair on the flop, the odds against making a full-house on the turn or river: 5-to-1.

More likely you will not fill up; so, at this point, it would be wise to bet/raise to protect your vulnerable two-pair by forcing out some of your opponents.

• Holding a set or trips on the flop, the odds against catching a full-house on the turn or river: 2-to-1. Chances are your set will win the pot even without further improvement. Slow-play on the flop; then bet/raise or check-raise on the turn and river to build the pot.

• Catching runner-runner suited cards to make a flush: 23-to-1. A huge long shot. Generally, it is not worth the investment. Fold it unless you also hold high overcards to the board.

In the next issue of GamingToday, we will expand on this important issue and go into depth on one of these odds to show how best to play to win the most chips.

About the Author

George Epstein

A retired engineer, George Epstein is the author of “The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!” and “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.” He teaches poker courses and conducts a unique Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Senior Center under the auspices of the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and at West Los Angeles College.

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