Implied odds; all you need to know

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Mark | Poker Articles, Poker Mathematics

This article is a part of the Poker Mathematics series.

Implied odds is a more advanced poker concept than pot odds, poker probabilities and EV. You should therefore familiarize yourself with these basic concepts first.

Implied pot odds take into account future bets made to the pot and are therefore not as straightforward to calculate as regular pot odds. Implied pot odds are most relevant when you are on a draw and stand to gain additional bets if you make the draw but on the other hand won’t make additional bets yourself if you miss the draw in question. The following examples will give you an idea of how to calculate your implied pot odds in different situations:

You are playing in a large online poker tournament. Blinds are 200/400 and you have 20000 chips. In middle position you are dealt QK of diamonds and raise 3xBB. The action is folded to BB who calls your raise leaving him with 18000 chips. The pot is 2600. The flop is A(d)3(d)8(c). Your opponent bets the pot signalling he has an Ace which leaves him with 15400 chips. From a regular pot odds viewpoint you are getting pot odds 3 to call and with 9 outs you have a 19% chance of hitting your flush on the turn. From a regular pot odds viewpoint you are not getting the right odds to call. However let’s assume that you call your opponents pot bet and your opponent will make another pot sized bet (of 7800) on the turn. If you hit your flush your call on the flop made you an additional bet of 7800. Therefore your implied pot odds on the flop were 7800 (the pot after the flop) + 7800 (your opponents bet on the turn)/2600 (your call on the flop) = 6. Now with odds 6 to call you are making a +EV play by calling the potbet on the flop; you need a 17% probability for winning the hand to make a breakeven play with pot odds 6 and you in fact have a 19% probability of hitting one of your 9 outs to complete your flush.

Please be aware that justifying a call due to implied odds is a tricky business. You have to be pretty sure that you will be able to gain additional bets from your opponent on the following streets. Drawing to straights is therefore usually better than drawing to flushes since straights are better concealed and are thus more likely to extract additional bets from your opponents.

The example from above demonstrates that the stack size of your opponent is also important. Calling drawing hands due to implied odds is done against deep stacks where you have the possibility of doubling up or at least making a large contribution to your chip stack. To illustrate this, let’s use the sample example from above, but now your opponent has a chip stack of 3000 after making his pot bet. Your implied odds for calling have now dropped to (7800+3000)/2600 = 4,2, which is not enough to call.

There is one situation in particular where you will almost always call due to implied odds, namely calling preflop raises with small pocket pairs. Most of the times you will be calling with the wrong regular pot odds, but your implied odds are great because you will usually earn big pots when you hit your set. When playing small pocket pairs remember the two rules: “no set, no bet” and “yes set, yes bet”.

Merry X-Mas and happy New Year to all!!!


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2 Comments to Implied odds; all you need to know

Mark aka Poker Farce
January 1, 2009

I agree that this is tricky…most players don’t understand the other players on a level where they can really determine what sort of value exists. I guess it’s hard by nature…because you have to figure out what kind of hand your opponent has in order to know how much he is going to pay.

January 2, 2009

Hi Mark

You are quite right that knowing your opponent well is a great help when trying to determine your implied odds. The next best thing would be to practice putting opponents you have only briefly played against on a plausible hand range.

Mark’s last blog post..Implied odds; all you need to know

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