Implied Odds

How to think about implied odds if you don't have correct immediate pot odds

In the article on pot odds we have already covered expressed odds. Now we want to talk about implied odds.

What are implied odds?

Implied odds are a little more complicated. For example let's say that you're on a drawing hand and your opponent bets but doesn't put you all in. Say he bets $20 and you both have about $100 left in your stacks that you could win if you hit your hand, these are your implied odds.

Now I've already said this situation is a little more complicated and it's going to take some educated guess work on our part so let's think about a few things that we will need to consider.

  • If we make our hand, will our opponent pay us off?
  • How disguised is our hand? (if there are four cards to a straight showing on the board then that is less likely to get paid off than say if we hit a gut shot after calling with a double gut shot draw.

  • What type of opponent are we playing? A maniac or calling station is more likely ay us off than a nit (tight/ passive player) or a solid, tight aggressive opponent.

    Hand Example

    Let's run through a hand to get a better idea of how to think about implied odds. Imagine that we hold:

    And the flop is:

    You and your opponent have roughly $100 left in your stack each. The pot is $36. The villain (your opponent) bets $20. Even if you think he has a top pair type hand, should you call his bet?

    There are 46 unseen cards in the deck of which we know 9 will give us a flush and the other 37 won't help us too much so we're a 37 to 9 underdog which means we're about a 4 -1 to improve to the best hand.

    After our opponent bets the pot now contains $56 and it will cost us $20 to call so our immediate pot odds (expressed odds) are 56 -20 or about 2.8 - 1. With only our direct pot odds that is not enough to call his bet since we are a 4-1 underdog to improve to the best hand.

    But if we do decide to call his $20 bet then we still have another potential round of betting to go. On the river, there will be $76 in the middle and we'll bot have $80 left in front of us each. Some or all of that remaining money may be bet on the river. What makes this advantageous is the fact that if we don't improve then we don't have to put anymore money in. Worst case scenario is that we don't hit our spade and just assume that we'll lose the pot (you don't always but just for simplicity's sake we'll say we do) but we don't lose anymore money.

    If we do hit the river however then there are a few things for us to think about.

  • He may fire another bet in which case we can raise.
  • He may check and we can fire a small bet which if we give him great pot odds he could feel compelled to call.
  • He may check to us and we can make a medium size to a big bet and he may or may not call.
  • What is important to factor in here is the type of opponent that you're up against. You'll get away with much larger bets against fish and calling stations than you will against observant, thinking players (unless you have a crazy dynamic between you).

    So how do we know if our turn call is profitable?

    So on the turn the pot had $56 in it and then costs us $20 to call which is giving us 2.8 - 1 on our money which is not enough on it's own to profitably make the call (this play on it's own is -EV).

    If we believe we can pick up an extra bet on the river when we hit then let's think about what we need to be making to make the play profitable.

  • If we only pick up a small bet like $20 then our implied odds in that situation totaled 76 to 20 or 3.8 to 1 which isn't enough to be profitable.

  • If we just managed to pick up a $30 bet on average then our odds were 86 to 20 which is 4.3 to 1 which is enough to be slightly profitable.
  • In reality I'd often be making a bet of more like $50+ into a pot of $76 which would make the play more than profitable providing you are against a player that is going to pay it off enough of the time.


    Want to really master using stats?

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    To find out more about the Tagpoker cash school, read here.

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