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Odds and Probabilities in Poker
Arrow  Odds and Probabilities -  Pt1
Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to introduce some probabilities, odds and suggest how to use them.
One often quoted poker statistic goes as follows...
  • 2,2 will beat A,K 53% of the time,
  • but 10,Js will beat 2,2 over 50% of the time.
So 10,J is a better hand then A,K ? Of course not,
A,K is a 63% favourite against 10,J.
The above statistics are very interesting, and can certainly convince your opponents that you a complete bore, but are they of any use? How can you take advantage of this information? The easy answer is you can't. In this case, I will quite happily commit my whole stack with A,K before the flop in NLH tournaments, but would have to be under extreme pressure to do it with 2,2 or 10,J. The reasons for this are simple. If you should get called, and you have to win the hand to stay in the tournament, what might your opponent have?
  • If you have 2,2, then you are never going to be a big favourite against any possible hand unless it has a 2 in it. (You are very lucky if your opponent has A,2, and then you are only 1/2 favourite). If he has any two over cards, you are in some sort of coin flip. If he has an over pair, you are a 4/1 underdog.
  • If you have 10,J , then you are probably in almost as much trouble. You will not have been called by any hand that you are a significant favourite against. If you have been called by a big pair, or A,J, A,10, then you need a miracle. The best you can hope for, is a coin flip against a lower pair.
  • With A,K there are only two possible dominators : You will need a miracle against American Airlines, and you are a 2/1 dog against K,K. All the other pairs are coin flips. With this hand though, there is an upside. If you are an aggressive player, or you are playing against some loose callers, you may get called by many hands that you dominate: A,Q, A,J, A,10, K,Q.
Remember though, when moving your chip stack in with any of these three hands, the best result is that your opponents fold. Then you win 100% of the time!

See you next week!

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