# How to use poker odds calculators?

I know that odds calculators are a very prominent part of poker but I am a bit confused on how to use them most effectively. Are odds calculators meant to be used during the game to suggest a possible course of action or are they strictly meant for post-game analysis? Because most/if not all of the calculators that I saw required the user to enter the hands of two players, which would be impossible mid-game. I am looking for something that would help me learn what to do during the game so are there any tools out there that can help me and recommend a course of action during the game? Thanks in advance.

• You should clarify which type of calculators you are referring to. There's the kind where you input specific hands and a flop (if you want) and the app will give you pot equity. There's tons of mobile phone apps that do this. Then there's the calculators like Flopzilla or PokerCruncher (which I use) that will let you input ranges for multiple players and you can see how your moves do against ranges. Personally, I use both kinds and I will sit there and get curious about different hands - like how does AK do against a board with undercards? Thats the best way I use them to study. – Unknown Coder Nov 17 '14 at 17:20
• @skateboard34, `but I am a bit confused on how to use them most effectively.` Are you sure you're confused with odds calculators? I had the same questions as you, trying to perfect my game mathematically while the only thing i was really missing was a basic understanding of actual hand strengths and their relation to board. If you say you're learning try to avoid odds calculators and stick to basic understanding of your hole cards and how they relate to board, as well opp ranges before dive into math and getting lost. – user1165 Dec 20 '14 at 16:49

All odds calculators will tell you is the odds of you winning given your hole cards and the board. It is useful to know the stats but risky to rely on them.

If you're heads up and villain has 72o and shoves, you're likely to fold unless you have a premium hand. Likewise, if villain has nuts and limps or stop/goes, you're likely to play until the later streets.

I'm my view, their value comes when you have a marginal hand you sometimes play and you want to see how it stands up. Good odds calculators will allow you to set your hole cards and the number of players and then allow you to randomise the other players' hands.

For years I was partial to Q8s having hit big money a few times but after crunching the numbers, I now know this is a marginal hand at best.

Hope this helps.

• This does help significantly but when you say you know Q8s was a marginal hand after crunching the numbers, what does crunching the numbers mean? Seeing that odds are actually not that good? Also, could you suggest how to learn when to fold and when to check/call? – skateboard34 Nov 13 '14 at 16:34
• Apps like PokerCruncher will run tens of thousands of hands to see what the odds are. Q8s comes out at something like 20% 6-handed which is only marginally better than any 2 random hole cards. – Robbie Dee Nov 13 '14 at 16:42
• When to fold/check/call is a massive topic which can't readily be covered here. If you're a beginner, start to get a handle on which hole cards to ditch. As you get better, you can play more marginal hands. Also, analysing past hands is invaluable. Most poker sites support the storing of hand histories locally either out of the box or as a standard option. – Robbie Dee Nov 13 '14 at 16:46
• In your playstyle, on what odd percentage do you not shove? Or does it all depend? – skateboard34 Nov 13 '14 at 16:52
• Rules of thumb are useful but it doesn't pay to become predictable. There are often more profitable plays than shoving - like a flat call for example. Shoving might cause an opponent to fold whereas a flat call might encourage a bet from the villain on later streets. – Robbie Dee Nov 13 '14 at 17:21

It is very good to know the odds of winning with any given hand, as this will tell you a good course to bet. However, if you rely totally on the odds your opponents will learn this (how quickly depends on how good they are) and soon be able to tell what is in your hand by your bets. And this is where the real game of poker comes in, not telling your opponent what you have by your bets, yet still getting the best possible outcome based on the odds of you winning any given hand.

My brother used to hate it when I would win to an inside straight to his hand and I never really realized why I was so consistent in winning against him until I realized I was betting based on instinct, the bets he (and others) were making were very small and the addition I had to make to the pot was small enough that even though my odds of winning to an inside straight weren't that great the payoff when I did win was well worth the investment of when I didn't.

In a professional type game I would never get away with that as a lot of poker players will purposely (myself included) make a larger bet just to drop out the players that may win by luck. If they do stay in the amount they put in more than pay for the odds of them actually winning. Of course if you have a very good hand it can be advantageous to string along other players as long as you can to increase the pot.

And all this depends on you knowing, at least roughly, what your chances of winning are. The more players at the table, the higher hand you will generally need to win.

So, with your odds calculator you can experiment around with different hands and so when you get certain hands you'll know which is more likely to win.

From a casual player who has won online "fun" (play money) tournaments enough how to beat the players who don't know what they're doing, and able to go to my local card club, win around 6x my money then start to lose as they learn my strategy. Then I'd go home to bed. Only did this until I learned how to do it, then got bored with it and only play for play money nowadays.