How to play
20 poker odds and probabilities you should know
1. Premium hands
The chances of getting a top starting hand (of double aces, picture pairs or A-K suited), is a minute 2.1%. Hold out for one of these and you’ll never get started.
2. Feeling flush?
If you've got a flush draw (one card short of a full flush) after the flop, you'll make your hand 34.97% of the time. That's just over a third.
3. "But they were suited!"
Don't play any two cards just because they're suited. It only improves your hand by 2.5%.
4. Paired up
The chance of one of your hole cards making a pair on the flop is 32.43%, or about a third.
5. Hitting the board
By the river, your chances of making a pair go up to roughly a half.
6. Straight talking
If you flop an open-ended straight draw this gives you eight outs (eight possible cards that will complete the hand), so you'll hit your hand by the river 31.5% of the time. Just make sure you're getting pot odds (the value of the pot versus the value of your bet) to see the next card.
7. Three of a kind
If you already have a pair, the odds of flopping a set (three of a kind) are only 7.5/1 – so make sure you only play small pairs cheaply, and only if the pot is worth it.
8. Inside straight
Rarely worth drawing to, with the turn and river cards to come you'll hit your gutshot straight (four outs) approximately 9% of the time.
When two pairs go head to head, the bigger pair will win roughly 80% of the time (or four times out of five). So if you’ve got queens, and see a bet, raise and re-raise in front of you, you might be up against aces, kings, or possibly both. Time to fold.
10. Perfect cards
If you need two exact cards on the turn and river, the chance of getting them both is only 0.3%. If you get one, there's a 4.55% chance of getting the other.
11. It's a race
A pair against two overcards is often called a coin-flip or race, because they each win about half the time. If the overcards are suited, the pair will win 46%-54% of the time, if not, 48%-57% of the time.
12. Kicker trouble
If your top card matches the other person's, but your kicker is smaller (for example, queen against either ace or king, you’ve only got a 24% chance of winning (or about one in four).
13. Suited connectors
People talk about middle suited connectors being better than aces, because of the straight and flush possibilities. But if you're holding the aces, don't panic – the over-pair will beat the suited connectors approximately 80% of the time.
14. Pocket pair
It might not feel like it, but you'll be dealt a pocket pair on average once every 17 hands, or about 6% of the time.
15. Flush up
There's a reason for folding low hands. Even if they’re suited, the chance of flopping a flush is only 0.8% – or 124/1.
16. Two by two
The probability of flopping two-pair (from non-paired hole cards) is about 2%.
17. Full house I
If you do get two pair on the flop, the chances of making at least a full house by the river is 16.74%.
18. Full house II
But if you flop three-of-a-kind, the odds of making a full house or better by the river go up to 33.4%, or one in three.
19. Live cards
You bluffed with random cards to steal the blinds and were called by A-K. Oops! Actually, your random lower cards will win about 35% of the time.
20. Don’t get hooked
Pocket jacks is known as a big danger hand in Texas Hold’em. It may look good, but the chances of a higher card turning up on the flop is 52%, giving your ‘fish-hooks’ less than half a chance of survival.