Implied Odds

When playing poker, whether online or live, the odds the pot is giving you is often compared to the odds of making the winning hand in order to calculate the expected value of a call. If the pot odds are greater than the odds of drawing one of the outs you need to make the winning hand, then you should make the call.

For the most part, calculating pot odds and expected value is done on a street to street basis, since you will want to know if you are getting the correct odds to see the next card. What it fails to consider, though, is the implied odds you’re getting when you make a call.

What are implied odds and what are they useful for?

As we’ve already discussed, pot odds take into account the money that is already in the pot. Implied odds, on the other hand, takes into account the future betting that will occur in later betting rounds.

How is knowing the implied odds going to help? Even though you may not necessarily be getting sufficient direct odds in order to make a call, if you can expect to win more money when you hit your hand, then you are getting better odds on the call.

That said, since you can’t say with certainty exactly what betting is going to take place during any of the future rounds of betting, it’s always going to be an estimation. Beginner players have a tendency to overestimate implied odds, completely ignoring the tendencies of other player’s who will shut down when an out comes on the next street which completes an obvious draw. But it’s something you’ll get better at with more experience of determining pot odds and implied odds under your belt.

As a general rule of thumb, the more disguised our hand is to an opponent, the better the implied odds you will be getting, since you are a lot more likely to actually get paid off.

To illustrate this with some specific examples, drawing to sets before the flop have great implied odds. Hence, the reason that set mining with pairs can be so profitable. It’s hard for an opponent to put you on a set when you have 4’s on a board of K-4-7 making it very difficult for them to get away from the hand when the flop top pair with AK or KQ.

Similarly, straight draws are fairly well disguised, since even though an out improves one specific draw, it’s hard for an opponent to put you on that one hand, when there are so many other potential draws, and when they’re beating so many other made hands. For this reason, implied odds for flush draws usually aren’t very good, since it’s going to be extremely obvious you hit the flush when you come out betting when the draw hits.

Here are a few more important considerations to review when estimating your implied odds.

Implied odds are greater when your opponent has shown strength

If you can put your opponent on a strong range, for example, when a tight player comes out raising from under the gun position, which is typically always going to be with a premium hand. It is very likely they have a premium hand like a big pocket pair or Ace King, and so set mining in situations like this is going to be very profitable, since there is a high likelihood of getting paid off when you hit your set, as players don’t like folding top pair top kicker or over pairs.

Similarly, you might look down at a hand like 87 suited on the button, which is only 8 high. But given you have position on the pre-flop raiser, and considering the implied odds you’re getting when playing with super deep stacks, it might definitely be worth playing in this scenario.

Implied odds are greater when playing against weak opponents

This should speak for itself. Weak players have a tendency to call too much, so you can expect to get paid off more often when you make your hand.

Implied odds are greater when effective stacks are deep

When playing deep stacked cash games, you’re getting really good implied odds to play more speculative hands, such as set mining with small and medium pairs or playing suited connectors. When you hit the flop hard, the potential rewards can be huge, especially when you’re playing at a table with lots of fishy players that don’t like to fold.

Hopefully this article has given you a deeper understanding of implied odds and how they can be useful to use at the poker table for raking in those really big pots!