Should You Call To Win a Split Pot in Poker?


Should You Call To Win a Split Pot in Poker?


People standing around a poker table, in a casino, engaging in a game of poker.

Should You Call To Win a Split Pot in Poker?


A closeup of a hand revealing an ace of diamonds, and an ace of hearts.

A hand of online poker doesn’t always end with the strongest-handed player scooping the pot. Sometimes, it’s a tie, and the chips are divided among one or more opponents. Often, this happens when the river card gives every player a made hand. This can be a letdown if you’ve carefully built the pot in the belief that you’re ahead, and it can also be a relief when the river saves you from losing entirely.

An important aspect of a split pot is that it should affect how you think about when to call in poker. The fact is that it’s less profitable to call a bet to win a split pot, so you need to tailor your decision-making accordingly. In this article, you’ll learn about poker split pot rules and the poker math involved in deciding whether to call or fold.

What Is a Split Pot in Poker?

Stacks of different color poker chips, placed in the middle of the poker table, and playing cards arranged around the table.

A typical hand of poker ends when a player wins the pot, either by folding their opponents out or by revealing the strongest hand at showdown. Sometimes, though, the pot is divided equally among two or more players. This is called splitting the pot. Also known as chopping, splitting usually occurs when it’s obvious that nobody at the table can have the strongest hand.

Another possibility is when the action folds to the small blind in a live ring game. The small blind can then ask the big blind if they want to chop the blinds. If the big blind agrees, they both replace their blinds in their stack and move on to another hand. Chopping the blinds isn’t allowed in poker tournaments or online poker in general.

Splitting also occurs in high-low games (e.g., Omaha High-Low) in which half the pot goes to the player with the strongest low hand and the remainder to the player with the strongest high hand, but for the purposes of this article, the focus is on split pots in Texas hold’em.

How Does a Split Pot Work in Poker?

So when do you split the pot in poker, exactly? Fortunately, the poker split pot rules are relatively simple to grasp. Say you’re playing Texas hold’em, and you’re holding an ace-high straight by the river. The board is unpaired, and the cards are rainbow, so there aren’t any ways to make a flush. As a result, you know you have the nuts, so you bet double the pot. But your opponent calls, and it turns out that they also have a top straight. Too bad. You have to split the pot, dividing the chips evenly between the two of you.

Many possible situations could lead to the same outcome. For example, it’s common for players to tie with a pair of the same rank. In most cases, it’s the kicker that determines who wins a tie in poker. Sometimes, though, players have the same kicker too. Say your hole cards are a 10 and a 9. On Fifth Street, the board is 10-6-6-2-A-4, so you have two pair with an ace kicker. Come showdown, your opponent’s hole cards turn out to be a 10 and a 5, giving them two pair with an ace kicker as well. Neither player has the strongest hand, so the only option is to chop and play another hand.<h2>Calling In Poker To Win a Split Pot</h2>

People sitting around a poker table, in a casino, engaging in a game of poker, with poker chips and playing cards arranged on the table.

Most of the time, you’ll be calling in poker to win the full pot, but sometimes you know it will be a split pot by the river, so what do you do if your opponent bets in? Any player with a mastery of Texas hold’em basics knows that the decision of when to call in poker depends on your expected value. This, in turn, comes down to the pot odds, which is a fairly simple poker math calculation.

Here’s how it works: Say you’re facing a bet on the river with ace-queen offsuit and triple kings and a pair of threes on the board (king-king-king-3-3). As a result, both you and your opponent have a full house. Your ace kicker makes no difference in this situation, so you cannot win the hand. Your decision here is to call and share the pot with your opponent or fold and not win anything at all. The first step is to determine the pot odds (compare the size of the bet and the pot). This will tell you if it’s profitable to call.

Say the pot is $20, and your opponent’s bet is $10. As a result, you have to call $10 to win a $30 pot. This gives you pot odds of 25% (3 to 1). Ordinarily, this means you need to have the best hand at least 25% of the time for the call to be worthwhile.

So, how does a split pot affect the poker math? Since you want to win only half the pot, you halve the pot size in the calculation. This means you’re calling $10 to win a $15 pot. The pot odds are now 1.5 to 1, or 40%, so you must have the best hand 40% of the time. In this situation, having the best hand means your hand is as strong as your opponent’s.

In this example, you can only lose if your opponent has a king or a pair of threes in the hole to make four of a kind. The odds of this being so are significantly lower than 40%, so you can call with confidence.

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