Implied Odds

written by: John

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It has happened to all of us. We have a strong hand on the flop such as two pair or trips and are now betting for value as well to discourage draws. Then the worst happens. Someone is there to call you down and beat you with a runner-runner straight or flush. The chat box then fills up with you screaming 'how could you call that, you are a donkey.' Your donkey opponent then replies, 'I had implied odds.' What?

In short, implied odds are simply where you assume that an opponent will pay you an 'implied' amount of money should you make your hand that in most cases you have -EV being involved in. Most common scenarios include set mining and chasing straights or nut flushes.

However, most players will use this as an excuse to chase hands, such as runner-runners or gut-shots, without really giving any second thought to whether or not they will actually be paid off or not. If you are not getting extra value from chasing these hands, then it will still result in a negative expectation and of course will cause players to be losing in this same spot over a long period of time.

Let's look at an example of where you may use implied odds.

Implied Odds Example

In this example, we will look at a typical pre-flop scenario which is having a small pocket pair. The odds of flopping a set are about 8 to 1 and in most cases, not all, the odds will just simply not be there to call a bet to set mine. Not to mention that the odds will more than likely only come if you are in late position with several limpers in front of you. For those of you that do not understand expected value just yet, it is important to be getting better than 8 to 1 in pot odds to make this play profitable over a period of time.

So, what do you do? In most cases, you would fold but if you feel like you may have implied odds, it will depend on your opponent. How big is his chip stack and do you feel that you can extract more money from your opponent if you hit your set?

For example in a $10/$20 cash game, let's say that your opponent (villain) limps in from middle position and you look down to see pocket 8's while sitting on the button. There is now $50 in the pot, $10 from the small blind, $20 from the big blind and $20 from the MP limper. So, you are only getting 2.5 to 1 on your money. This translates into you losing $20 7 times ($140) to win $50 once on average when you hit your set for a negative expected value of -$90.

However, if you suspect the villain in middle position to be limping in with a monster, then it may be possible to stack off against him if you hit your set. All the times you have seen him play, he has yet to let go of a huge pocket pair on the flop. Now the only thing to check is to make sure he has a big enough stack. For our example, we will assume he has $550.

Ok, so the very minimum you need to make this play ok is $90 to break even and anything above that will be a profit. So, in this case, we know our opponent has a hard time letting go of a huge pocket pair on the flop so then we know we can get paid if we hit and he has a large enough stack to extract from. This is all you need to make the call.

If you are assuming that you will stack off against your opponent, you can than hypothetically add $550 to the pot before making the call and then figure that you are getting $600 for your $20 call which gives you odds of 30 to 1. This is way better than the odds we needed so you are 'ok' to make the call.

Poker Implied Odds

Now, it is important to point out that in this case, everything of course went our way to simply explain how to figure out implied odds. The 'implied' amount is just added to the pot before making the call to adjust your odds to figure whether or not you should make a call with odds that are against you.

However, it is important to consider several factors before thinking you can stack anyone off. Meaning, not every player is the same or play hands the same way. For example, if you have a super tight player, good luck trying to extract value on a hand unless he has the nuts in which case you would not. Tight players are not players to figure you have implied odds against.

Calling stations on the other hand are perfect. In fact, you do not even have to consider stacking off as long as you have an idea of what size bets they are willing to call on the flop and both streets. As long as it shows a profit, go for it.

Maniacs can be a decent player to figure for implied odds as well because if they connect with the flop at all, they have a much harder time letting their hand go.

The point that is trying to be made here is that implied odds are not an excuse to play poorly but a tool that can only be used when you have the correct materials. And a solid poker player knows that the materials needed for implied odds are opponent tendencies, history and chip stacks. Be sure to use this tool wisely, as any misuse can destruct your chip stack, not to mention your bankroll.