NoMercy Monday: Pot Odds and Stack Sizes

NoMercy Monday: Pot Odds and Stack Sizes

In this strategy series, CoinPoker’s Chief Community Manager and pro poker player Isabelle “No Mercy” Mercier walks you through the basics of the game. Each No Mercy Monday comes with expert advice on how to play,  and it all starts with starting hands.


For the past few weeks, we moved on the essential topic of calculating odds. We started with explaining how you can determine your drawing oddsthe importance of observation, adapting calculations based on those observations, and went through a few classic drawing odds.

Now that you also know how to calculate pot odds, it’s time to look at another factor that is crucial to look at when calculating your odds: the depth of your opponents’ stacks. 

Understanding Pot Odds and Stack Sizes

Let’s say that you are debating whether or not to make a call with an open-ended straight draw on the flop. There is 1,000 CHP sitting in the middle of the pot and your opponent bets the entire pot. In a case like this, it will cost you 1,000 CHP in order to win 3,000 CHP, so about 33% of the pot.

As for your drawing odds, you have 8 outs times 4. According to this drawing odds formula, the total is about 32%. The numbers are really close here, so you could hypothetically choose to make the call and that would be a mathematically correct play.

However, suppose that in this particular case, your opponent only has 300 CHP behind him after he made his bet on the flop.

Is it worth investing 1,000 CHP to only be able to win 300 CHP more if you are successful in hitting of one 8 cards? Probably not.”

That should make you re-think your pot odds, because now if you decide to make the call, you will only be able to extract 300 more CHP from your opponent. Is it worth investing 1,000 CHP to only be able to win 300 CHP more if you are successful in hitting of one 8 cards? Probably not.

The real way to look at this bet is to assume that your opponent went all-in, so for the calculations, the reality is that it will cost you 1,300 CHP to win a pot of 3,600 CHP. Mathematically speaking, the pot would need to be about 4,000 CHP to give you the correct odds to make the call. 

However, in some specific situations could you may get a green light to make the call despite bad odds.

For example:

  • If you suspect that your opponent might be bluffing or might be on a draw with a weaker hand than your still un-made hand or
  • If it’s bubble time and you could reach the money by eliminating this player, or
  • If you are the chip leader in a satellite and there’s only one more player to bust out and give everyone else their entry pass to a bigger tournament…

In poker, every situation is different, so use the general guidelines and apply them in the best possible ways during each hand.

Join me weekly in the Hubble Bubble tournaments and Sunday’s Andromeda events to practice your skills and try to win my 10,000 CHP or 25,000 CHP bounties! 

– Isabelle “No Mercy” Mercier

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