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What Are Implied Odds?
Implied odds are essentially an extension of pot odds used in poker math when assessing how valuable a drawing hand is. While pot odds are the ratio between the size of the bet and the size of the pot, implied odds include a prediction of what will happen on future streets of the hand in terms of how much you can win on average.
Misused, implied odds can cripple your win rate due to calling too many bets and raises on the preflop without good enough prospects or good starting hands. That said, because the nature of this concept includes some guesswork, it is, in a practical sense, impossible to calculate a perfect answer.
What Is the Difference Between Implied Odds and Pot Odds?
Working with pot odds only requires you to complete a simple division. Implied odds do not offer this solution. What they can offer though, is to show you the amount that you must win on average over the rest of the hand. Once you know this amount, your experience, coupled with analysis of any relevant hand ranges, will guide you towards a more accurate decision.
There are three factors that affect how good or bad your implied odds are:
- Your opponent(s). Unskilled opponents can usually be relied upon to put too many chips into the pot with a weak hand. Also, the more players that are in the pot with you increases the chance that you will win a big pot if you hit your draw.
- Your position. It is harder to extract value with a strong hand when you are out of position. Therefore your hand has worse implied odds than it would if you were in position.
- Stack depth. Deeper stacks always offer the opportunity to win more with your good hands.
How Do You Use Implied Odds in Poker?
The board is Js 7h 4c and your hand is 6h 5h.
- The pot is $100 and your opponent bets $100. The pot is now $200 and your read on the situation is that your opponent has a good hand (a top pair, for example) because they have bet so big.
- Your required pot odds to make the call are 4.88-1 (eight outs to make your straight), and your actual pot odds on offer are only 2-1. Without using implied odds here, you would be forced to fold.
- In this situation, it is almost certain that if your opponent does have a pair then you will be able to extract more value on the turn and river. The more likely you assess your opponent will be willing to put more chips into the pot, the easier this call becomes. Be aware that raising is also a perfectly good decision in many cases here, but it also requires a more complicated calculation.
If you need 4.88-1 to continue, and you are only getting 2-1, then subtract your pot odds from your implied odds:
[4.88-1] - [2-1] = 2.88-1
Now, multiply by the amount you need to call:
2.88 * $100 = $288
For your call to be profitable you must extract, on average, an additional $288. How likely this is can only be determined by experience and how well you can assess an opponent.
What Are Reverse Implied Odds?
Implied odds are normally talked about in terms of how profitable your draw is, but there is another side to this concept known as reverse implied odds.
This is an estimation of how much you will lose if you make your draw and end up losing to a better hand. This is most commonly seen when you make a straight draw or a flush draw and the board pairs on the river giving your opponent a full house, causing you to lose a big pot.
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