Implied Odds

Implied odds are another tool to add to the poker arsenal. When a person starts out playing poker they have relatively few “tools” to use – for instance maybe there is just pot‐odds, which as seen above do not allow for a lot of flexibility, as based on them alone many hands would have to be folded. As more and more ideas get added into the thinking and planning of a hand, there are more possibilities and more ways to mix it up and either call, raise or bet as opposed to folding or checking and it will be understandable why those plays are profitable.

Implied odds come into play based on how much money you think you can make if you hit that drawing hand on future streets. Your implied odds depend heavily on earlier factors such as hand reading and the style of an opponent. To figure out if you have good implied odds first consider the hand ranges of your opponent and how they will react to the cards coming on the board that hit your hand. Then also consider the style of poker your opponent plays (skilled? ag‐ gressive? loose?) and how that will fit into the picture. Implied odds can also be combined with pot odds to find more +EV calling situa‐ tions.

Here is a straightforward example. Eight‐handed $5/10, UTG limps, UTG+1 limps, I limp on the button with K♥‐Q♥ and the BB checks. Normally this hand is good for a raise – it’s a good hand and we have position; however, the reason I didn’t this time is because UTG had a stack of just $250, which makes it easy for him to limp‐reraise me all‐in which is not something I want. The flop comes A♥‐3♣‐2♥, BB and UTG check, next to act bets pot of $45. Here clearly I do not have pot odds but if I get paid off if a flush comes then I can call. The turn is a 7♠ and he bets $135 leaving himself with $500. A flush card will come about 1/5 times, and pot odds say I need to win 1/3 times, so I need to make up for that difference somehow to call. The answer is with implied odds, or in other words, the time a flush card comes and he pays me off:

0.8(-$135) + 0.2($405 + x) = 0

This means that 80% of the time we won’t hit the flush and won’t win the pot (note this neglects the times when our hand is already good and we can win as in a showdown, and the times we can bluff him when a flush card doesn’t come which are significant factors). And 20% of the time we win the $405 in the pot and then x, where x is the amount of money the opponent will pay us on average when we hit, which in this case is $135. Note how a turn call is worse than a flop call even though we still have a 1/5 chance of hitting the next card and immediate pot odds of 2:1. This is because on straight pot odds we cannot call getting 2:1 on a 4:1 shot to hit; however, if he gives us a free turn card then our chance of hitting a flush becomes about 2:1 overall. He will check the turn some of the time (when playing you need to make a mental estimate) so pot odds won’t jus‐ tify the call entirely. However, implied odds are better on the flop than the turn because then the math is

0.8(-$45) + 0.2($135 + x) = 0

It is a lot more likely with two streets of action to go that we get the value of x, which is only $45 here.

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