## POT ODDS: To call or not to call

1. All too often these days, we are hearing about the importance of pot odds. So, if you come up against a situation where you are a 3:1 dog, but the pot is paying 6:1, should you call? Well, what about when you are a 10:1 dog and the pot is paying 12:1...should you call then? In my opinion, and many people who will have an opinion on this are sure to be better players than I, it is not always correct to call simply because the pot odds tell you to call. Let me give you an example: 5 players left, 4 get paid. (blinds are 250-500) you have 10k in chips and pick up 6-7 of spades in the BB, three players call. You check, Flop is A-K-5 two spades. Now, the first caller bets, the other player calls the final player moves all in (for about 2500) and its on you. You are 3-1 to hit your flush and the pot is now paying something like 4.5:1 (if I did the math right) do you call there? I dont...I fold. Why do I fold? The pot odds are right to call arnt they? Yes, but Im STILL going to lose 2 out of 3 times...which means there is a 66% chance Im out of the tourney with one till the money...I dont want that..Id rather get all my money in when Im a 70% or 80% favorite...so even thought the pot odds make it MATHEMATICALLY correct to call, I dont think its always right STRATEGICALLY to call....please feel free to prove me wrong...
2. If you have 10k in chips and call 2500 you're not out. If you meant 1k in chips, well then you've gotta be in---you've got 2 big blinds. I would take any flush draw at that point to try and double up. You're gonna get blinded out anyway if you aren't willing to risk it.

3. The only way you fold there is if you believe one of the other players to have a higher flush draw. If you dont believe so...call!..its automatic baby!
4. What about the general idea though...do you think that you should call ALL THE TIME if the pot odds say to call?
5. YES YES YES!...It's a winning call in the long run...Put it this way...you walk into a store...guy at the counter says..i have a deal for you...here is 10 scratch tickets..they are a 100 bucks each...9 are losers but one of them is a 20k winner...you can only purchase one...sure its a loser 9 times out of 10...but man..when u hit u hit!
6. Good analagy...but imagine this....same scenario, but there is a street lined with guys offering the same thing...and some of them offer 3 of those 20k winners in their group of 9...point being...you can get your money in with WAY more the best of it than you can with pot odds sometimes...If losing the pot can put you out of contention for the big money, I dont always calll it...
7. Yes...but in poker there is a thing called time...and time is of the essence sir.
8. again, good point..which is why you sometimes DO call the pot odds bets...Im not saying you NEVER should...in fact, probably MOST times you should...Im just saying not EVERY time..and I think some players will call EVERY time the pot odds say to call and I think thats a mistake...
9. Of course you shouldnt call everytime...but the above sample you gave wasnt one of the times.
10. Ok, then I stand corrected...but the other post that sparked this whole mess with A-4 os WAS one of those times....IMO
11. Your opinion is respected but I totally disagree.
12. Thank you, as is yours, but on this one we are going to have to agree to disagree...haha
13. Good topic for discussion. I think pot odds are different in tourneys vs. cash games. In a tourney, you might have pot odds to call, but if you are a dog and your tourney life is at stake then I think pot odds might not be reason enough to call. In the long run it pays, but if you are out of the tourney then there is no long run. You are out. This is different in cash games, where there really is a long run. Anybody see my point? I think implied odds are much more important in NL tourneys than pot odds.
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14. The best thing you can do is prevent yourself from making mistakes which lead you to calling based solely on pot odds. Calling for pot odds is usually preceded by a mistake.
15. Consider the following scenario, and I believe the question becomes more difficult.

There are 4 players left in a MTT, and there are 50K chips in play with the following chip stacks (after blinds and antes have been posted):

Player 1: 20K
Player 2: 9K
Player 3: 11K
Player 4 (You): 10K

The payout structure is as follows:

1st Place: 100K
2nd Place: 80K
3rd Place: 50K

The hand, for all intents and purposes, can be the same as the one described above.

You have 67, and Player 2 and Player 3 have seen the flop with you: AK5.

Player 2, who acts first, pushes 9K in the pot, Player 3 pushes over him for his remaining 11K, and you're looking at a decision of 3 to 1 to hit your flush and the pot odds, when factoring in the blinds and antes, are slightly greater than or equal to your 3 to 1 likeliness of hitting.

Your 3 decision scenarios are as follows:

1) You call and lose, putting you out of the tournament with no money.

2) You call and win, becoming the chip leader with 30K with a guaranteed money finish and a very high likelihood of placing 2nd or 1st (seeing how Player 3 remains with a measly 1K).

3) You fold, keeping 10K in chips, with a very high likelihood of placing 3rd, 2nd, or 1st (seeing how Player 3 will either remain with 2K or Player 2 will immediately be out).

The situation alone is compelling enough, but let's also assume you are certain in your ability at reading and playing against these other 3 players, that if your stack was equal to any of these players heads up, you would win 80% of the time.

Do you still call because in the long run, when you've run into this situation 10 times, this is a "winning" play?

You might be able to argue that folding is the winning play in this situation because you consider yourself more likely to win with one third the chip stack against these players than by taking a 3 to 1 shot on one hand.
16. Bettin Benny...thank you for writing a MUCH clearer example than I did....in this particular case, I fold. For me, its not even a close call. I fold. Now, in a CASH game, I call here in a heartbeat. But again, I feel as though my best chance for winning is to fold. I dont mind taking my 10k up to 30 by winning small 2, 3, 4k pots here and there...I dont need to tripple up all at once. Im about to tell you why this is NOT a winning play in the long run. Lets say this hand comes up in 9 consecutive tourneys (which is VERY unlikely) Lets say you call that EVERYTIME...you will win 1 in 3, lets even assume that you win the TOURNEY everytime...so you are out 6 times with nothing and win 3 times for a grand total of \$300,000. Now, lets say you fold every time and lets assume that means you finish 3rd everytime. 9 tourneys for 50K each is \$450,000....I WIN!!! PLUS it is likley that you will finish BETTER than 3rd in at least a few tourneys....so that would be an even bigger difference....Holy crap, did I just prove myself right? That doesnt happen very often and I owe all the credit to Bettin Benny!!
17. I think we can beat this into the ground with an even deeper mathematical analysis.

The following math will assume that your skill is equal to that of your opponents, and that your chance of winning a tournament is directly proportional to your chip stack, i.e., if you have 1/3 the chips in play at a given point, you have a 33% chance of winning the entire tournament.

We will assume your chances of placing in the other spots are distributed along the gaussian curve represented by your chances of winning versus the number of players remaining. (For those of you who may be lost, this just means that we assume your chances of winning 2nd, 3rd, and 4th will be dictated by how likely it is you win first.)

Calling leaves you with a 66% chance of gaining no money and a 33% chance of having a chip stack of 29K with one player at 20K and another at 1K. With 58% of the chips in play, at this point you would have a 58% chance of winning first, and by our gaussian curve, a 37.66% chance of placing 2nd, and a 4.33% chance of placing 3rd.

As such, our expected value, when calling is:

(.33 * .58 * 100K) + (.33 * .3766 * 80K) + (.33 * .0433 * 50K)
= 19140 + 9942.24 + 714.45
= 29796.69

...or just under 30K, meaning if we make this play 10 times, we can expect to win roughly 300K.

Folding leaves you 10K in chips or 20% of the chips in play, meaning you have a 20% chance of winning 1st, and by our gaussian curve, a 28.66% chance of placing 2nd, a 38.33% chance of placing 3rd, and a 13% chance of placing 4th.

As such, our expected value, when folding is:

(.2 * 100K) + (.2866 * 80K) + (.3833 * 50K) + (.13 * 0)
= 20000 + 22928 + 19165 + 0
= 62093

...or just over 60K, meaning if we make this play 10 times, we can expect to win roughly 600K.

I'd have to agree, supermoves, that your intution is correct, at least in this example.
18. Even without all the worry of non-1st place finishes, you can see that folding is the right move in this situation.

Calling gives you a 33% chance of having 58% of the chips. (.33 * .58 = 19.14% chance of winning 1st).

Folding gives you a guaranteed 10K, which is 20% of the chips (20% chance of winning 1st).
19. BIG PROBLEM WITH THIS: the payouts are NOT ACCURATE. Find me one tournament where first pays 100k, 2nd pays 80k, and third pays 50k. If there were 230k paid out to 3 spots, it would be more like: 1st: 115k, 2nd, 70k, 3rd, 45k. 2nd is almost always around 60-65% of 1st, and 3rd is nearly always around 60-65% of 2nd. Not saying this changes the outcome, but you need to be sure the payouts you're using are accurate. If you're talking about a sit-n-go (the only tourneys I know that only pay out 3 spots), why not just use 50, 30, and 20?

20. Okay, calculating a more "real-life" scenario, with payouts of 50, 30, and 20, the expected values are as follows:

BY CALLING
(.33 * .58 * \$50) + (.33 * .3766 * \$30) + (.33 * .0433 * \$20)
= \$9.57 + \$3.73 + \$0.29
= \$13.59

BY FOLDING
(.2 * \$50) + (.2866 * \$30) + (.3833 * \$20) + (.13 * \$0)
= \$10 + \$8.60 + \$7.66 + \$0
= \$26.26

As you can see, in either scenario, you are doubling your expected value by folding.
21. cool, thanks

22. Another consideration to think about here, and I think it was touched upon earlier, is that all these examples assume the 7 high flush is good. But with two players all in ahead of you, it is a distinct possibility that one of them has a higher spade draw. In this case, you can hit one of your outs and be drawing dead. So I think this makes the case for folding a bit stronger.
23. what if you are in a similar tourney scenario and chipstacks are fairly even except for the guy allin...if you know you have a significant edge against the remaining players [you are outplaying them and making good reads] i may fold here because i think i can outplay or have a better spot next hand. otherwise, i think the general rule here is call, blinds make time critical in the late stages of tourneys.

plus who wants to just "make the money"...i wanna make the most money and if i catch the flush and win i have a much better chance to dominate the remaining players for the tourney win.
24. OK my freaking head just exploded!!!

Biggy
25. Wow, you guys are deep!! Actaully some really cool and insightful thoughts, this site is awesome!! Seriously though it's almost like considering EV. In NL I can't even believe this to be a question of black or white, because it is situational. I definitely wouldn't call or raise just because I had the advantage in EV in NL. I don't believe you can say 100% for every situation that to call just because you are getting pot odds is the proper play either. On the other side of the coin, dumping every hand just because you are not getting the appropriate pot odds might be inappropriate as well. I think its like almost everthing else in the game, there are many factors that need apply and are equally important in hand evaluation - Chip Position, Current standing to be just a couple that first came to mind. Heck, we've all had situations where we would even throw a hand away that was an AA or KK, if it meant seeing 2 other players going all in (and us moving up a notch on the standings). I totally agree with what you said to begin with supermoves and that is "Mathematically" it is the proper play but "strategically" it may not be!! That was well put, because Poker is definitely an art and science just as is chess. To consider the mathematics only and to leave out the "People" part of the game or other important factors is just undercutting what the game is really about. Although this will appear to disagree with LL2's comments, in reality there is merit for both sides and again is situational in my very humble opinion.

Best Regards,
WP