Understanding Implied Pot Odds in Texas Hold Em

Poker mathPot odds are the ratio of the size of the pot to the size of the bet you need to call. Let’s say the pot contains 200 dollars and you have to call 50 dollars on the flop, your pot odds would be 5:1. A player uses pot odds to determine if he should continue in the hand based on his odds to win at a later street. Pot odds and implied pot odds are calculated the same way except implied pot odds takes into account future betting. Implied pot odds are influenced by the stack size of your opponent, how aggressive/passive the game you are playing in is, and how often your opponent will bluff.

If instance, if you hold 56o on Q 4 7 J rainbow board and the pot is 100 dollars and you are facing a 45 dollar bet from a lone opponent. You have an open ended straight draw which needs about 4.8:1 odds to continue to the river. The pot odds are not there to call on the turn, in fact for you to make a profitable call here, the pot would have to be 216 dollars (4.8 x 45 = 216) right now your pot odds ratio is 3.2 to 1, ($145:45) not enough to call profitably. Let’s look at this hand again, this time with more information.

This time you and your opponent each have 500 dollar stack, you face the same turn bet for $45 dollars into a 100 dollar pot. You have a strong read that your opponent may have QJo, two pair on the board. As stated previously, to call profitably when using pot odds the pot would have be 216 dollars, the pot is still 145 dollars but you have more information. You believe your opponent has a strong hand and will fire a big bet on the river and probably call a raise, regardless of the card that hits. You are using implied pot odds to figure out future betting. Your opponent has a 500 dollar stack and the pot is 145 dollars, 500+145=645 so your implied pot odds are 645:45 about or 14:1. You can call easily, based on your read and your opponent’s aggressiveness.

Knowing your odds

Implied pot odds are a great way to determine how much you stand to win if you hit your draw, but often times in multi way pots your outs may not be good. If you have the pot odds to call you must still estimate how often when you complete your draw, it may not be the best hand. Reverse implied pot odds are how much you could expect to lose even if you make your draw. For instance, say you hold 98 of spades on a board of TdJd4c giving you an open ended straight draw, there are three other opponents in the hand making it 4 handed to the flop. At first glance, you have a nice drawing hand in a multi way pot, but let’s look more closely. If your opponent bets and another player calls, you will have to consider that some of your outs may not be good. Only a non diamond 7 will give you the nuts, a jack high straight. Any diamond may leave you drawing dead on the turn. Even an off suit queen may spell danger for you as AK makes the nut straight, and you are stuck in a terrible spot with a second best hand. Your reverse implied pot odds make calling here a lot less attractive, many cards that make your straight may also give your opponents a flush and you still may be losing if you hit the top end of your straight draw.

Reverse implied pot odds

Reverse implied pot odds are impossible to calculate exactly, because we don’t know for sure what cards our opponents have. We have to use our pot odds, the board texture, the pot size, and the knowledge of our opponents to determine the best course of action in reverse implied pot odds situations. Sometimes it may be best to gamble, and other times we’ll be waiting for a better spot.

Implied pot odds are a great tool to determine what we can win at later streets and can drastically alter our decisions. A simple fold using pot odds turns into an easy call in the right situation with implied pot odds. When just using pot odds to determine if we should fold, call, or raise, our poker vision is limited. Implied pot odds allow us to plan ahead and estimate future betting to decide the best course of action for our drawing hands.

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