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Protecting Your Hand

In the Calculating Outs & Odds example, we talk about calling your opponent's bets with a flush draw only if your pot odds are favorable. Now consider what to do when you have the best hand, and your opponent is drawing to a hand that will beat yours. In this case you want to protect your hand by giving your opponent the incorrect odds to call.

For example, you believe you have the best hand on the turn, there are 3 more people involved in the hand, and there are two cards of the same suit on the board. Do not bet $20 into an $80 pot! This gives anyone with a flush draw favorable odds to call your bet - your opponent would be getting 5:1 pot odds, and the odds against him winning are only 4:1. The correct amount to bet here is between 3/4 of the pot and the entire pot.

Now you may ask yourself "why give your opponent an opportunity to win more of my money if his flush draw hits?"

You MUST remember that poker is about long term results, and your opponent may get lucky and hit his flush now, but in the long term, it is mathematically impossible for your opponent to come out ahead. For example, lets look analyze playing both of the above betting scenarios over the long run, 100 hands:

The Wrong Bet - Betting $20 into an $80 pot:
  • The odds of your opponent winning the hand are 4:1 against; therefore, he will win this hand 20% of the time.
  • Your opponent will be risking a total of $2000 (the cost to call a $20 bet times the number of hands, 100).
  • Your opponent will have a chance to win a total of $12000 (the amount of the pot after he calls, $120, times the number of hands, 100).
  • After 100 hands, your opponent will win a total of $2400 (20% of $12000), a profit of $400 ($2400 less $2000).
The Right Bet - Betting $80 into an $80 pot:
  • The odds of your opponent winning the hand are 4:1 against; therefore, he will win this hand 20% of the time.
  • Your opponent will be risking a total of $8000 (the cost to call a $80 bet times the number of hands, 100).
  • Your opponent will have a chance to win a total of $16000 (the amount of the pot after he calls, $160, times the number of hands, 100).
  • After 100 hands, your opponent will win a total of $3200 (20% of $16000), a LOSS of $4800 ($8000 less $3200).
As you can see, it is MUCH more profitable for you to give your opponent the incorrect odds to call your bets.

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