Reverse Implied Odds

written by: John

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To have a firm understanding of 'reversed implied odds,' it is a good idea to have an understanding of implied odds.

Implied odds are when a player is behind in a hand on the flop or turn with a draw to a nut straight or flush but is receiving the incorrect pot odds to chase. Depending on the player's opponent, how deep both their stacks are and how likely it is that the player will hit his or her draw, this player can sometimes 'imply' that they will be able to extract enough value for their hand should they hit their draw to make up for the lack of odds that they have currently. This is heavily used in deep stack cash games or for set mining in sit n go's.

Reverse implied odds are in fact the opposite of implied odds. A player may have a hand that can improve to a straight or flush on later streets but the same cards(s) that improves their hand may improve their opponent's hand more. The player with the lesser straight or flush will have a difficult time getting away from their hand and will pay to see that they were second best, thus losing money.

To provide a clearer understanding of reverse implied odds, we have come up with a few examples of common scenarios where players are faced with this losing proposition.

Reverse Implied Odds Examples

Dominated Hands

Sad but true, a lot of reverse implied odds situations arise from having a poor choice in starting hands as well as not using the Gap Concept when calling raises.

Common hands that get players in trouble are playing the low A-x hands pre-flop such as A-2 through A-9 (or any face card with weaker kicker). These will provide reverse implied odds because if the player catches an ace on the flop, it is very possible that they are out kicked by their opponent. And if a player chooses to play a hand such as a low ace, it is safe to assume they are doing so to catch an ace and will commonly find themselves paying to find out they were out kicked the whole time.

Another situation of dominated hands stems from calling raises without using the Gap Concept. So for example, if an opponent were to raise from under the gun it would be safe to assume that they are raising with premium hands such as AA, KK, QQ, AK and AQ. So, to make the call with hands such as A-J or A-10 would provide reverse implied odds because according to the under the gun's range, A-J or A-10 will not hold often and will lose money in the long run.

Straights and Flushes

It should be obvious to everyone that unless a player is holding an ace or A-K when drawing to a straight or flush, this player is not drawing to the nuts.

Having said that, if a player is not holding the nuts for a straight or flush they run the risk of reverse implied odds when drawing to these hands because if they catch one of their outs, it is highly possible that the same card bettered their opponent's hand as well to a better straight or flush. It should be noted that the farther away a player gets from having the nuts, the higher the reverse implied odds would be.

An example of this would be a player seeing a flop of Kh-6h-2d with J-9 of hearts. Chances are that if a heart comes, the player with the J-9 will not be able to get away from the hand and it is very possible that they will be beaten with a better heart such as a Q or an A.

A common example of reverse implied odds with straight draws would be players who draw to the lower end of straights. For example, if a player held 4-5 and the board was 6-8-A, any 7 would give this player a straight. But any 7 will also give a player with 9-10 a better straight.

Reverse Implied Odds in Poker

It is important to look at reverse implied odds consequently a majority of the time because of bad decisions made pre-flop or on the flop. In most cases a player will face reverse implied odds when they play hands that are easily dominated such face cards with weak kickers, smaller suited or non-suited connectors or small flush draws. All of these hands can be played based on the situation at hand, but it is important to remember that if they aren't the nuts or better in comparison to their opponent's hand range, they run the risk of losing more money even though it may seem as if they have a pat hand.