Pre Flop Odds

When playing Texas Hold 'Em, there are two important sets of numbers to keep in mind - pre flop odds and flop odds. The flop is the first three of the five community cards used by everyone at the table. It's the second time you have to stay in or fold, and knowing the pre flop odds will help you decide if you want to see the flop.

Your chance of being dealt:

A pair of aces is 220 to 1
A pair of kings, queens or jacks is 72.7 to 1
A pair of sixes - tens is 43.2 to 1
A pair of twos - fives is 54.3 to 1
An ace + king of the same suit is 331 to 1
An ace + king of the different suits is 110 to 1
An ace + queen or jack of the same suit is 165 to 1
An ace + queen or jack of the different suits is 54.4 to 1
An ace + ten or less of the same suit is 35.8 to 1
An ace + ten or less of the different suits is 11.3 to 1
Any pair at all is 16 to 1
Any two cards of the same suit is 3.25 to 1
Any two cards of the same suit in sequence is 46.4 to 1
Any two cards of different suits in sequence is 14.8 to 1
Any hand of either a pair or containing an ace is 3.91 to 1

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Poker is not a game about what you get dealt; it's what you do with it. A number of pre-flop odds makers have come up with mathematical formulas to help you figure out how to play. Below is one such formula, called the Chen Point Count, for computing pre flop odds.

Score your high card. An ace is worth 10, a king is worth 8, a queen is 7, a jack is 6, and a ten is 2. All other cards receive a point value of half their face value (a 9 is worth 4.5 points, for example). If the second card makes a pair, add 5 points or the card point amount, whichever is higher. If they are the same suit, add 2 points. If they aren't a pair, you'll have to subtract a "gap penalty":
If the gap is 1 (an 8 and 10, for example), subtract 1
If the gap is 2 (an 8 and jack), subtract 2
If the gap is 3 (an 8 and queen), subtract 4
If the gap is 4 or more (an 8 and ace), subtract 5
If the gap is 0 or 1 AND the high card is a jack or lower, add 1 point
Round up if you are left with a half point.

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Now, subtract your points total from 12. If you are left with a 2 or less, play aggressively - you likely have a winning hand and should go for the flop. If you have 3 left, you should go for the flop but play moderately. If the pre-flop betting gets high, you should consider folding. If you have 4 left, stay in for the flop but play conservatively. A 5 or 6 should be played only if it won't cost to see the flop. Seven and above, you should fold.

It might seem complicated but it's all very simple addition and subtraction. The Chen method requires little memorization and no fancy tools. It's one of the most frequently and reliably used formulas for determining pre flop odds.


by Bones McCoy at Poker Room on July 30, 2006

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