Miscalculating The Overlay Profit

Good poker players are always calculating the odds of completing their hand and winning more money than they have invested over all. This is figuring the odds of winning the hand against the number of bets in the pot called pot odds.

As an example, 18 bets in the pot with a one in three odds (2:1 ) of winning the pot should create an overlay. (There is a string attached.) Many players figure that if they miss their draw twice and catch it once they will come out ahead when they catch their draw when there are 18 bets in the pot.

Here is an example of this using a $3/$6 fixed limit game to figure the pot odds. It is easier to calculate this by setting $3.00 as the amount to count as a bet. When the bet doubles to $6.00 count that as two bets. If you bet or call all the way to the river but miss your draw and fold on the river twice and bet all the way to the river including a bet on the river you will have made 16 $3.00 bets for a total of $48.00. The same formula is used at every limit no matter how high the blinds are. That would still be 16 $200.00 dollar bets in a $200/$400 blinds game.

If the hand you win has 18 $3.00 bets in the pot, the total pot is $54.00. Your cost from all three hands, the two you missed your draw and the one where you caught it, is $48.00. The difference is only $6.00. (Here is the string attached.) You will have only won $1.00 in a casino poker room. The rake and the promotional drop would have taken $5.00. Oops, don’t forget the dealer tip. You just broke even and it will get worse. Keep reading.

Most casinos now days are raking 10 percent of the pot up to pots of $40.00. They also drop $1.00 to pay for promotions such as bad beat jackpots and payouts for four of a kind and larger hands. It is important to always subtract $5.00 for this and $1.00 for a tip.

Now how many blinds did you go through before you caught your draws. In a game with a $3/$6 blind ($1/$2 in most Nevada poker rooms) you pay $3.00 or $4.00 every time you go through the blinds. Now you will win other hands that will help you cover your cost of the blinds. Most players fail to count anything for the cost of the blinds when they win a pot. I find it is accurate to subtract the amount of one small and one big blind from the number of bets in the pot when I win a hand. When I do this, I find that I am not drawing to hands that do not have a possible overlay. This means that you will need 22 bets in the pot to earn a real profit.