While a lot of poker is about instinct and gut feelings, math still plays a huge roll as well.
In fact, every move you make on the poker tables has a hint of math to it.
As a player, you need to figure out your outs, your pot odds, expected value, and at times, your implied odds. What are implied odds?
I will tell you what it is not; it is not an excuse to make donk calls or plays because you think someone will pay you off. Implied odds tend to be one of the most overused concepts by weaker poker players everywhere and if used incorrectly, you will inhibit yourself from going deep in any poker game you play in.
Is it possible to utilize this strategy correctly? Sure, it is, first you need an understanding of what implied odds are, and then we can look at how it is used.
What are implied odds?
Implied odds are a calculated risk, nothing more and nothing less. Meaning, you are using data and facts that you have collected yourself to take a “calculated risk” at chasing after a hand. Unlike actual odds, there is no mathematical guaranteed that in the long run you will be a winning or losing player using implied odds.
Let’s look at a few factors that need to be considered prior to using this strategy:
- What is your table image?
- How many chips does your opponent have?
- What is your current stack size?
- What does the flop look like?
- Did you just start, near the bubble, or final table?
When using the facts above, implied odds are used to justify a call in a hand when you are behind.
You are “implying” that your opponent will pay you more on later streets if you hit your hand. Many easy examples of spots you would fold in are gut shot straight draws or flush draws. Many times, you just do not have the correct odds to call and chase your hand so you end up folding if bet into.
Is there a time that it may be profitable to chase your hand? Let’s look at an example.
At the start of a big tournament, you are sitting with 5 other players at a 6 handed No Limit Texas Hold Em game. You all started with $10,000 in chips and you have picked up Ks-Qs while sitting on the button. The current blinds are $100/$200 and the player under the gun decides to start the action with a raise of $600.
You decide to call will you K-Q, the small blind folds, and the Big Blind calls the extra $400. There is $1,900 in the pot.
The flop is dealt and you see Ad, 6s, and 2s. While analyzing the flop, you remember that the Big Blind will go to the felt with any Ace and that the player UTG will set mine but fold if he bricks the flop. Most times neither of these players will lead out and bet if they missed the flop.
You watch the Big Blind lead out with a bet of $1,000 which screams that he has top pair, but is trying to prevent the flush draw.
The player UTG quickly gets out of the way and it is now your turn to act. Most times this would be an obvious fold but you know if you hit your hand, he will pay you well since he cannot let go of his top pair. You have 9 cards to hit your hand, so approximately odds of 5:1 and the pot is offering almost 3:1 with you needing to call a bet of $1,000.
How much money would we have to extract on later streets to make up for drawing to this hand?
The goal is to even the playing field between your odds, if not lean it more in the direction of having better chances to hit your hand in relation to how much you will make.
Meaning, you want the odds to be better to draw and hit your hand. So to do this, the pot needs to be offering you more money for this equation to work, and you cannot ask your opponent to dump more money in, the only solution is figure out how much you will get out of him later.
This is how implied odds work. Long story short, what if you could make an extra $4,000 on this hand in later streets.
Would it be profitable then? Let’s look at the math. If you were to take $4,000 plus the $1,900 that is in the pot now, you would have a total of $$5,900. If you still had to call the $1,000 bet, this would give you odds of about 5.9:1. If compared to the odds of hitting your hand of 5:1, this is an easy call.
You will hit your hand and win enough for the times that you will call and lose. Meaning that you will call 6 times at $1,000 to lose 5 times for a loss of $5,000 but win once and make $5,900 bringing you to a total win of +$900. This would be a profitable move and warranted.
So did the player make the call? Ah…that is really for another example. And although this example is exaggerated, it simply shows the correct train of thought you need to have when contemplating making calls based on implied odds.
There really is no reason to be a losing player with this method as you should be using it sparingly and the math here should always be in your favor. Using implied odds in the end can give you a positive expected value and you cannot argue with that.