When you're playing online poker at PokerStars it's pretty easy to know if you got lucky in a hand to win a big pot, or suffered an unfortunate bad beat to lose one. Get your Aces cracked by Kings? Bad luck. Hit a flush on the river when all the money went in on the turn and you were up against a set? Good luck.
However, it's not enough just to know this very basic fact. What's more important – and crucial when it comes to helping improve your poker skills – is knowing how lucky or unlucky you were. It could have been essentially a 50/50 that you won, or maybe you hit a one-outer on the river. They're very different situations but both with the same outcome. The only way to know for sure how fortunate you have been is to look at the odds (or percentage chance) you have of winning (or losing) in that situation. It's possible to roughly work out these figures in your head but, luckily for you, PokerStars School has its very own mistake-proof Odds Calculator that will do the heavy maths for you.
We're going to walk you through how to use the Odds Calculator first, followed by ways that you can use it to help improve your game.
Using the Odds Calculator
Step 1: Click on any avatar and enter two hole cards for that player. To come up with a calculation you must enter at least one other player's hole cards too. Many pots will be heads-up so two players are all you need. However, if it's a more complex multi-way pot you can even enter the hole cards of every single player at the table if you like! If you purely want information on the pre-flop chances of each hand then go ahead and click 'EVALUATE'. The percentages of winning (also known as equity) will be right there on the screen.
Step 2: Often we will want to go a little deeper into our hand analysis and check out how our hand matches up on the flop or turn too. To do this, simply click on any of the community cards and you will be able to input the specific flop that you want. When you're happy, hit 'OK'. If you want to go further and see equities on the turn then input four cards instead of three. Click 'EVALUATE' and the new percentage chances of winning will be easy to see.
Step 3: Hit 'RESULT' if you want a clearer view of how the hands shape up against each other. Click 'SHARE' if you'd like your poker friends to revel in your success or misery – but remember not to post too many bad beats stories if you want those same friends to keep liking you…
That's it, it's that easy.
Learning from the Odds Calculator
Even though using the Odds Calculator is pretty quick and straightforward, it's not the type of thing you want to be doing when facing a tough decision in the middle of a poker hand. You'd probably time out for one and, most importantly, you would only be able to offer up an educated guess at your opponent's hole cards since poker is a game of incomplete information. Where the Odds Calculator really becomes valuable is in reviewing your play after a session.
It's a good idea to flag up any interesting hands you play in a session where there was a tough decision to make. When you've finished playing insert the hands, and the board if it's a post-flop decision, into the Odds Calculator to find out what the odds were. Let's say you are facing an overbet shove on the flop when you hold a flush draw. Without knowing the odds it's tough to be sure whether you should call or fold. Yet once you put the hands into the Odds Calculator and see that you only have around 33% equity – as would often be the case with as flush draw – the maths tell you that calling is clearly a mistake, and folding is the correct option. This is because you are not getting the correct pot odds to call, a summary you can only come up with once you know what the odds are.
Not only will the Odds Calculator help you make correct decisions in the future but it's also a useful reference tool for working out the odds of key situations that crop up time and time again in Texas Hold'em. These can range from A-K vs Q-Q (43%/57%) to 8-7 suited versus Q-J offsuit (40%/60%) to whatever else you like.
So give the PokerStars School Odds Calculator a try before your next poker session. Not only is it a fun tool to use but it can seriously help your poker game too!