There are many people out there who think poker is a game of luck and skill. To a point they are right there is a high element of luck while the ability to be able to read people is a skill. The only way that you can truly know what you can win in poker is by using maths.
To become a successful poker player you need to be able to work out the chances of you winning the hand that you are playing at the time. By calculating the odds you are able to work out the probability that your hand can become a winning one.
To be able to work out the probability of a hand in poker can be done by calculating its odds. By working out how many outs you have will allow you to calculate the number of times you can hit a winning hand before the river card is drawn.
For an example if you are dealt an ace and a nine of hearts and then after the flop has been drawn there are another two heart cards on the table. The actual odds of you getting another heart card before the river will be 36% which means that you have a one in three chance of getting one.
You are able to work this out by finding out how outs your hand has. The outs are the amount of cards that are left in the deck. So if we continue to use the above sample you are holding two heart cards along with the two that have been drawn in the flop, which means that there is nine left in the entire deck as there are only thirteen to begin with. All you need to do then is multiply the number of outs that your hand has by four which gives us the 36% chance of getting the card needed for a flush before the river.
Pot odds are basically a ratio between the cost that it will take to call a bet that has been placed by another player and the size of the whole pot. The better the ratio between these two values then the better the chance of you taking the pot are.
An example of this is if there is $80 in the pot after the flop has been dealt and then a player decides to bet $20 and then two other players call his bet then the poker pot odds are at seven to one. So if you are holding the ace and nine as described earlier and are only looking for a single heart for a flush so you are getting the three to one odds. So if you are in this position then either raising or calling would be the right thing to do.
Always remember that the better the odds the better the chance of winning and this is a skill that you should learn to incorporate into your game as it can make the difference in the long run.