Texas Hold'em Implied Odds
Implied odds are an advanced concept in Texas Hold'em dealing with expectation of future bets. In order to maximize your winnings, you need to understand the concept of implied odds and how to apply them. You cannot hope to understand implied odds without first knowing pot odds, so please see our pot odds article before reading any further.
The Idea of Implied Odds
You are dealt 77 in late position. Six players in early position decide to call pre-flop and you call as well. The flop misses you entirely, leaving you with just an underpair. The player in first position immediatly bets out after the flop, and the other five players call. Can you make the call? Looking at the pot odds, there are 13 small bets in the pot (seven bets pre-flop, six bets on the flop) so you have 1:13 pot odds. You have a 2:47 chance of making your hand on the next card since the only cards that can help you are the two 7's left in the deck. Clearly your chances of making your hand and winning the pot are worse than your current pot odds. Yet folding in this situation would be a bad decision because your implied odds are massive. If you make your hand, you stand to win not only the current pot but also money that is later bet into the pot. It's safe to say that you will win a lot more than 13 small bets if you make your hand since there are six players still left in the hand. You can make the call knowing that your implied odds are greater than the odds of making your hand, giving you a positive return.
Implied Odds = Pot Odds? ( Current Pot +? Future Expected Bets )
Calculating implied odds is very simple. To compute implied odds, add the? future expected bets by other players to the current size of the pot. "Pretend" that your sum is the actual? pot size and compute implied odds from that. In many cases you cannot compute your implied odds exactly so you have to make a best guess. If there are many players left in the hand then your implied odds are larger - you can expect more players to make and call bets. If the players left in the hand have been playing their cards very aggressively, you can also expect a large number of future bets - chances are they will continue to bet their hands aggressively. If you're up against a player that's all-in then your implied odds from that player are exactly zero since he will no longer contribute any chips to the pot. Obviously your implied odds are higher on the flop than on the turn since there's more action left to play. In the case above when the pocket 7's, I'd estimate the implied odds to be at least the 1:24 necessary to make the call. It's likely that more than 11 small bets will be put into the pot on the turn and river.
Implied Odds on the Turn
In Texas Holdem you are frequently playing heads-up against an aggressive bettor when you only have a draw. You need to calculate your implied odds to help you decide whether to make the call. If you have a decision to make on the turn then you need to include future expected bets by your opponent on the river when calculating implied odds. If your opponent has been betting aggressively for the entire hand, it's safe to guess that he will be betting on the river. If you have position on your opponent and he bets the river, you can raise if you make your hand and he'll likely call. Therefore the future expected bets by your opponent is four small bets. Even if you don't have position you can probably check raise your opponent on the river, but in this case your four small bet prediction is less certain because he may just check it down leaving you with no additional bets. You could always bet the river if you make your hand, expecting a call and netting you two small bets from your opponent. When playing with fewer players later in the hand, you can often calculate your implied odds with more certainty than you could with a large number of players early in the hand.
One Caveat on Implied Odds
It's easy to get caught up in calculating implied odds and forget that you could be drawing dead. In the case of the pocket 7's above, it's possible that another player has already made a strong hand such as trips of a higher suit meaning another 7 will cause you more grief than good. When you're on a flush or straight draw, it's possible another player is drawing to a higher straight or flush (unless you are drawing to the nuts).? This is why it's important to have implied odds somewhat better than? the probability of making your hand. You need to get paid more than just even money on the probability of hitting an out because it's possible someone will make a better hand even? if you make your hand.
Here are some good Usenet posts discussing implied odds in Texas Hold'em:
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