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Implied Odds

Know your odds!
Know your odds!
D. Biondi

Implied odds are the next step on your journey to understanding basic poker strategy and how to use pot odds to calculate whether you should continue on in a hand or not.

To understand implied odds you have to first understand what pot odds are:

Pot Odds

In poker, pot odds are the ratio of the current size of the pot to the cost of a call. In other words, if the pot contains $100, and a player must call $10 to stay in the hand, then the player has 100-to-10, or 10:1, pot odds. Think of Pot Odds as the probability of winning a hand with a future card in order to estimate the call's expected value. You then figure out how many “outs” you have and compare that to the pot odds you are getting. Outs are simply the number of cards left in the deck that will improve your hand to what you think would be a winning one. You’re comparing the money in the pot to the odds of you hitting the card you will need to win that pot. It’s that simple.

Implied Pot Odds

So what are implied odds? Well, as we have seen – pot odds only take into account how much money is in the pot RIGHT NOW. Implied odds are a way to calculate how much money you might win on further streets if you do end up winning the hand.

The difference is, of course, that implied odds are only an educated guess and not a true number. Pot odds do not take future betting into account. Implied odds do. If we’re deciding whether or not to call a bet on the turn, we must take into account the extra bets we will win on the river if we hit. Implied pot odds are calculated the same way as pot odds, but take into consideration estimated future betting. Implied odds are calculated in situations where the player expects to fold in the following round if the draw is missed, thereby losing no additional bets, but expects to gain additional bets when the draw is made. Since the player expects to always gain additional bets in later rounds when the draw is made, and never lose any additional bets when the draw is missed, the extra bets that the player expects to gain, excluding his own, can fairly be added to the current size of the pot. This adjusted pot value is known as the implied pot.

Put another way, implied odds is the ratio between the amount you expect to win when you make your hand (more than what is in the pot) versus the amount it will cost to continue playing.

Obviously, you’re making a guess – an educated one – about how much you expect your opponent to put into the pot once you’ve hit your draw. You might be wrong – your opponent might fold after he rightly assumes you’ve hit a flush. So always make implied odds a very conservative guess – don’t assume you’re going to stack someone when a very obvious draw has just hit and you push all-in. You’re going to make more money on a hidden straight than you would on a flush. Most players can correctly sniff out a flush draw that has hit, and who hit it.

Reverse Implied Odds

Reverse Implied Odds is when you think you might have the best hand now – say, on the flop, but it’s a fairly vulnerable holding – and you have to call a bet not only now, but also on the turn and the river. What it means is, you will not win any more money in the hand then is already in the pot if you’re actually ahead, and it will cost you more money on future betting rounds to discover you are behind in the hand. Reverse implied odds apply to situations where a player will win the minimum if he has the best hand but lose the maximum if he does not have the best hand. Aggressive actions (bets and raises) are subject to reverse implied odds, because they win the minimum if they win immediately (the current pot), but may lose the maximum if called (the current pot plus the called bet or raise).

Implied odds are a necessary poker concept understand if you are going to be a winning player.



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