Implied Odds in Texas Hold'em Poker

First a quick review about odds.

Texas Hold'em Poker Odds Basics

Poker is based on odds and you need to understand them in order to make money at the tables. This idea can be frightening at the beginning, but odds are very simple once you understand a few key concepts.

In a nutshell, as this article is about implied odds, and not just odds, there is a simple trick to know the odds in Texas Hold'em Poker. If two cards are left to come, multiply the number of outs by four. If one card is left, multiply by two.

So for example if you have AK of heart and the flop is T62 with two hearts, you have no made hand, but you have a draw to the nuts flush. Let us say that one of your opponents has a pair of sixes, he has currently the second nuts and he should bet it aggressively. You will call depending on the odds.

You can only call if you have the correct odds, which usually means that there must be more than two players in the pot. As you have 9 outs, this is 36% chance to make your flush (multiply by 4) and it is only 18% chance to make it by the turn (multiply by 2).

Implied Odds Explained

To continue with the previous example, let us say that the pot was 12 big blinds (BB) by the flop, the guy who has the set makes a pot-sized bet of 12BB, gets one caller and you are last to call. If you call, you get 4:1 odds.

In other words you need a minimum of 25% chance to win the hand as you are going to contribute for 25% of the pot. But we just said that you only have 18% chance of winning, so calling is not a profitable action. The correct move is to fold but it seems quite close.

Now what would happen if you called and made the flush by the turn? Would you not be able to get a few more chips in the pot? You just need about 12 more chips in the pot to offer your call the correct odds, right? Here we go, this is exactly the concept of implied odds.

Implied odds just means that you include the future chips that should come into the pot as part of your odds calculation. When you want to determine if making a call is correct in terms of how many chips you need to pay compared to how many chips are already in the pot, you can consider the money your competitors will pay off later.

Still with the same example, if a third heart comes at the turn your two opponents may just check by fear of a flush but they will call a small bet such as 12BB.

Implied Odds Can be Dangerous if Not Used Properly

The danger with using implied odds is that they should only be used to make an optimal decision based upon all available information. But not as an excuse to making loose calls.

The correct way to use implied odds is to first assess the most likely size of the pot if you hit your draw. In the hand under consideration, both players could fold if they feel that you have a flush. For example you could use the benchmark that if you make a 12BB bet, there is a 25% chance that both players fold and a 50% chance that one of the players folds.

Thus the implied pot size with increase by 50% times 24BB + 25% times 12BB = 15BB. This is enough for you to call, as you only need 12BB. On average you will win 3BB in this hand.

On the other hand, the wrong way to proceed is to determine what the future pot should be in order to justify calling. This mental approach is clearly an excuse to see how far off you are by calling. You should not overuse the implied odds concept to justify bad play, causing you to play way too loose.

Small suited connectors are hands particularly prone to be poorly played in the name of "implied odds". These hands are especially dangerous because if another of your opponents is also drawing to a flush, it is probably a higher flush.

Unlike AKs, you do not want to be called with 87s if you bet. Implied odds are just one part of the equation, and if you are not drawing to the nuts, you must consider these additional risks.

Do not get over board. Use implied odds with care.