How do I calculate my pot odds?

3: How do I calculate my pot odds? (An extract from Your Poker Mastermind Vol 5)

Additional Information from the student:

I recently played a hand where it was $150 to call and there was $400 in the middle.

In this spot, do I divide 150/550 (27%) or 150/400 (38%) to get my pot odds.? I need to know what’s right as I thought I would win around 1 in 3 times.

One of the first things I recommend to anyone trying to learn about pot odds is to try and express them as a percentage. This is simply because we express equity as a percentage and we should be comparing our pot odds with our equity. It makes sense to use the same format to avoid constant translation.

You can practice calculating pot odds with any situation. You just need 2 numbers:

1: The Amount to Call

2: The Total Effective Pot Size

If you have these numbers you can calculate pot odds. Whether you play live or online, you need to make sure you know these 2 numbers. Before you do any calculations, simply practice knowing these 2 numbers.

There are 2 reasons why pot odds cause confusion. 

1: There are different ways of expressing and calculating them

2: They get confused with fold equity (question 2)

In question 1, I offered a simple method for calculating pot odds. I used slightly different words than I am using here, but the method is the same. Simply multiply by 100 to get the percentage:

Amount To Call/

Total Effective Pot Size + Amount To Call

If you are already in the habit of using traditional bookmakers odds, decimals or fractions to express pot odds, then I would encourage you to switch to percentage, so that you are able to compare your pot odds with your equity more easily.

⅖ = 40/100 = 0.4 = 3:2 = 40%

If you struggle to convert to percentage from fraction, decimal or ratio, you need to practice it. 

Now the second reason for confusion is because the way we calculate our required fold equity is very similar to the way we calculate pot odds. If we are laying the bet, we calculate our fold equity, whereas if we are calling the bet, we calculate our pot odds. I have witnessed arguments between players both with the right answers, but expressing answers to two different questions. 

Let me expand the matrix from question 2, so you can see how this all fits together:

Bet 200% - needs FE of 67% - opponent has pot odds of 40% (equity needed to call)

Bet 150% - needs FE of 60% - opponent has pot odds of 37.5% (equity needed to call) 

Bet 100% - needs FE of 50% - opponent has pot odds of 33% (equity needed to call)

Bet 75%   - needs FE of 43% - opponent has pot odds of 30% (equity needed to call)

Bet 66%   - needs FE of 40% - opponent has pot odds of 28% (equity needed to call)

Bet 50%   - needs FE of 33% - opponent has pot odds of 25% (equity needed to call)

Bet 40%   - needs FE of 29% - opponent has pot odds of 22% (equity needed to call)

Bet 33%   - needs FE of 25% - opponent has pot odds of 20% (equity needed to call)

Bet 25%   - needs FE of 20% - opponent has pot odds of 17% (equity needed to call)        

Now this is one of the most important bits of mathematics in the game of poker. It does not take long to learn it.

Top Tip: Learn it 

Coming back to the details of the question, if the bettor bets $150 into a pot of $250, creating a total pot of $400, the bettor bets 60% of the pot, which requires 38% Fold Equity and presents pot odds to our hero of 27%.

You ought to be able to grasp these numbers and use the matrix as a helpful tool.