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Implied Odds

Implied odds are explained more in detail in Hold'em Poker and other David Skylansky's books. Good poker players have understood the significance of implied odds ever since poker has more than one betting of round.

Many poker players realize that one of the essential factors in deciding whether to call a bet with a hand that certainly is not the best hand (when there are more cards to come) is the size of the pot.

The pot odds are derived by comparing the size of the pot with the size of the bet. Suppose if your rival bets $20 into a $70 pot, you are getting 90-to-20 or 9-to-2 or 4 ½-to-1 pot odds.

If the odds against your making a hand that beats him on the next round are less than your pot odds, it is better to call than to fold. If not, it is better to fold.

However, it might happen that your pot odds don't seem high enough to justify a call, yet a call is in order. It occurs when you are getting high implied odds.

Implied odds are based on the possibility of winning money over and above what is already in the pot. More specifically, your implied odds are the ratio of your total expected win to your current cost.

Suppose if the rival bets $20 into a $60 pot, your odds are 80-to-20 or 4-to-1. However, if your hand is such that if it improves on the next round you try to beat him for another $40 on future rounds of betting, your implied odds are $120-to-20 or 6-to-1. It is these implied odds that should be examine before determining whether to play a hand.

Implied odds are more important in no-limit or pot-limit games. In such games, one almost always is considering what can be won on a future betting round rather than how much is in the pot right now.

For example, it can be correct to go for an inside straight in no-limit hold'em getting very poor odds if you think you can make a big bet or raise and get called if you do hit it: suppose you have

And the flop comes

If your rival makes a small bet and has plenty of money left, it may be right to call him in expectation of catching an 8 to bust him.

The importance of implied odds is not as great in limit games, but it still exists. It is possible to come up in an early round of betting.

Implied odds can be important if this early round of betting is cheap as compared as to the future rounds of betting. For instance most of the $1-$3 seven-card stud games in Las Vegas start with a 50 cent bet.

In such games, it is not right to play very tight for this initial bet, especially against the weak players which are found mostly in these games. If you can see fourth street for only 50 cents you should, say, call for one card with any pair as long as your cards are live.

Your high implied odds justify this call especially against such rivals. If you make two pair or a three-of-a-kind, you figure to get action from lesser hands.

Remember that when you estimate your implied odds you must try to predict what you can win if you do make your hand. This prediction depends on following three things:

•  The size of the future bets.

•  The ability of your rivals.

•  How "concealed" your hand is.

The larger the size of possible future bets, the more inclined you would be to call with a hand that might improve to the nuts but is not yet getting high enough pot odds.

When you have a close decision, you should be inclined to call against weak rival than the tougher ones. This is because you can assume that you are getting higher implied odds from a weak player who is more inclined to call your bet when you do make your hand than a tough player would be. (On the other hand, there are situations where the opposite is true. In some situations, a tougher player can be trapped by a check-raise when you hit your hand while a weaker player may not bet.)

It is important that you have a hidden hand if you are adding the possibility of future bets to the present pot to get your implied odds. If the cards that help your hand are obvious to your rivals, you cannot hope in getting more value one of your hand if you do make it. Only if your good cards are not obvious to them (or if you get it face down) can you hope in getting a call or even a raise or check-raise when you do catch them.

A word of admonition: Implied odds have little meaning if there is a reasonable chance that you can make your hand but still wind up the second-best hand. In other words, if you are going to take little money from the pot in expectation of winning future bets, you had better be extremely sure that your hand will hold up when you make it.

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