Correcting some errors in computing your poker odds = play better

People new to playing poker may think that it is all about being lucky in getting the cards or knowing how to successfully pull off a bluff. True, these factors help a lot, but there's also a lot of math behind the game. And when you get serious about poker playing, it is high time to understand how to calculate the real poker odds.

To do so, we must review and understand the basic mistakes players make in calculating their odds.

First off is not properly counting your outs. The common definition of an out is a card that will complete or give you the best hand. And this is true. However, it is incomplete or, at the very least, misleading. A true out will not just give you the best hand but it will do so while not being beneficial to the other players' hands as well. Thus, proper counting of outs also involves the skill to correctly evaluate and or anticipate your opponents and the hands that they hold. Otherwise, you might miscount and include even counterfeit outs, that is, those cards that boost not just your hand but those of the others.

The next one is improperly computing the odds for two cards instead of just one. Instead of anticipating the two cards that will be dealt, it is more realistic, and in fact proper, to calculate the odds based on your existing hand and the next card. The difference in such calculations can be substantial and will therefore affect the wisdom and validity of your wagering decision.

Finally, a lot of players make the mistake of not taking into account the implied value, thus not drawing when they actually had a pretty good chance of at least a break even. The implied value refers to the extra amount that will be paid in to the pot should the other player bet on the river or call you after you have completed your hand. This last concept may not be apparent to most players, or some may even think it not worth the effort, but mathematical computations will bear out that factoring in the implied value will actually be significantly beneficial in the long run game.

With these concepts firmly in mind, you get to be more aware of your real poker odds, and thus help you make sounder calls. Since poker is as much a game of strategy and skill as luck, sound calculations and the subsequent decisions will lead to more victories and rewards.

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