Do the poker math, but creatively!

Jul 7, 2009 5:03 PM
Back in the Saddle by Johnny Hale |

Sometimes, the numbers don’t add up

One thing every poker player should know is the mathematics of the game – pot odds, implied odds, odds to hit the flop, odds to make a flush and so forth.

You’ve heard all your life the saying of poker – one that I am almost positive that you have heard many, many times – never draw to an inside straight! (An inside straight draw is when holding a hand similar to this – cards of 4, 5, Q, 7, 8, and you need the 6 to complete your straight of 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.)

Well, I have to tear down your life long belief that this was the correct thing to do.

So, the Oklahoma Johnny Poker Tip of the week is:

Always draw to an inside straight – but only when the odds are correct!

Just suppose the above mentioned hand is dealt to you. Remember the math -- there are four sixes in the deck and you have one time to catch one of them.

Consider the following. You are playing 10/20 stud, the pot holds $300 and you’re positive the other player has only one pair or so. You know you have a good chance to win the pot if you can hit the six, and it cost you $20 to draw for the card. You are getting 15-to-1-plus if you hit it, with more money coming into the pot in the final betting round.

If you have been watching the cards and you have not seen a six, but you have seen a total of 12 cards this means that there are 40 cards that are a mystery to you (deck of 52 minus 12 cards you know about equals 40 unknown cards).

The odds now become 36-to-4 or 9-to-1 against you making the inside straight, but the pot is laying you 15-to-1 plus the extra implied odds if you catch the six.

Make the play or quit playing poker!

You are getting 15-to-1 and it cost you just 9-to-1. Now let’s look at the numbers.

Make the draw nine times and you will hit it one out of nine, but expect to lose eight times: 8 x 20 = $160. But the one time you hit you receive $300 plus the extra bets.

So, can you see that you have a dead even bet to win $300 for a risk of $160? You are getting almost 2-to-1 on the money.

True, I set the conditions up to prove the point, but in the game of Stud or Omaha or Hold’em you will find many, many similar situations that will occur day after day during a poker game. Just watch for the opportunities and seize the moment and take the money on home.

Carol says that I have talked enough poker and it is time to go play some poker.

Remember, be happy and STAY LUCKY!

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Johnny Hale