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Number crunching with implied odds

Here, we talk about a bit about implied odds and why they’re useful.

What are implied odds?

In poker, you can make good money by picking up on your opponents’ mistakes. But first, you have to decide if it’s worth the risk.

This is when implied odds come into their own (the potential winnings for that hand versus the amount you need to make the next call).

Let’s say you’re facing a pre-flop raise of $20. The raiser has $500, which you think you can win if you make your hand. So you’re paying $20 for a potential $500 win, which gives you implied odds of 500/20 or 25/1.

You need to be careful though, because implied odds are only useful in certain situations.

When to use implied odds

If you’re up against calling stations (players who call and never raise) or maniacs (people who play anything), then implied values are helpful, as you’ve no idea what hand they’ve got. If your opponent is a rock or playing tight for any reason, you’re not going to have the same problem.

Also, if your hand is obvious, you might not get full value on it, so the same odds won’t apply. Suited-connectors and small pairs are the best hands to take your opponents by surprise, which is where the implied odds could pay out.

Example scenarios

Let’s walk you through a couple of different examples:

Scenario one

The blinds are $2/$4 and you open-raise pre-flop to $15 with pocket fives. Your opponent (a tight player) re-raises, taking the pot to $100. You decide to call the extra $85 because your opponent has $1,400 left in chips, and you think you’re getting an implied value of 1400:85.

But are you?

If your opponent has A-K or pocket 10s, and they miss the flop, they’ll probably fold. In which case, you’re calling $85 to win $121, not $1,400. This makes the call incorrect because the odds of you flopping a set are 7:1, and you’re only getting 1.4:1 on your money.

If you knew your opponent had a big hand and was going to commit all their chips post-flop, then it’s a different story.

Scenario two

Your opponent is a tight, predictable player who has limped in early position in a $1/$2 cash game. After you raised from the button to $10 with pocket fives, they re-raised to $25. This is big enough to thin the field but small enough to induce a call or two.

You know from playing this opponent before that they have a big pair. You may only be getting 2/1 on your pre-flop call, but if you hit your hand (say, with a 7-5-2) you could win 15 times that.

Implied odds exist here, but only because your hand still has potential.

Scenario three

You’re in a $1/ $2 no-limit Hold'em cash game, on the button with 6♥ 7♥. An under-the-gun player limps and we raise to $8. The under-the-gun player re-raises to $16, and we call.

The flop comes Q♣ 8♣ 2♥, our opponent bets again and we fold. Why? Because the flop didn’t improve our hand. You don’t need implied odds to tell you that it’s not worth another bet.

If the flop had been Q♥ 8♣ 5♥, it would have been time to re-raise, with both straight and flush draws. Except that’s not what happened.

Implied odds can be useful, but use common sense first and only apply them in specific situations where you can get paid post-flop.