Implied Odds

Implied odds are based on the possibility of winning money in later betting rounds over and above what is in the pot already. More precisely, your implied odds are the ratio of your total expected win when your card hits to the present cost of calling a bet. A good example of playing a hand for the implied odds occurs in hold 'em when you have a small pair in the hole. It's about 8-to-l against flopping that card to hit three-of-a-kind, but the small pair is worth playing in most cases even getting something like 5-to-1. If there is $50 in the pot and it is $10 to you in a $10-$20 game, you are getting implied odds of about 150-to-10, or 15-to-1, since you should average about $ 100 further profit when you do flop a set of trips. Of course, when you don't make trips, you would normally throw away your hand rather than call a bet on the flop.

In earlier discussions we have come across other situations where implied odds were operating. In Chapter Four on ante structure, we pointed out that in games with a small ante and a small initial bet in comparison to future bets, it pays to play looser than the small ante would dictate for the initial bet only. The reason is that the big bets in later rounds give you good implied odds.

For instance, the $l-$3 and $l-$4 seven-card stud games which you find in every card room in Las Vegas start off with a 50-cent bet. It is not correct to play very tight for this initial bet, especially against the weaker players you tend to find in these games. When you can see fourth street for only 50 cents, you should, for example, call for one card with any pair, so long as your cards are live — that is, so long as few of the cards you need have appeared among your opponents' exposed cards. This is because your implied odds are enormous. Should you make two pair or, even better, three-of-a-kind, you figure to get a lot of action from lesser hands, especially when your initial pair is hidden.

Implied odds were operating in the example in Chapter Six on effective odds which advocated calling to see one card only if the immediate pot odds justify a call though your effective odds indicate a fold. The suggestion was that when your card hits, you'll probably make more money on future bets.

To take this point a step further, you might call even when the immediate pot odds do not quite justify a call if there is a large increase in the bet from one round to the next. Your possible future profits when your card hits — that is, your implied odds — will make up for the short odds you are getting at the moment. For example, if in a $10-$20 game an opponent bets $10 into a $20 pot, your pot odds are 3-to-l, which would dictate throwing away, say, an open-ended straight. However, if your hand (or your opponent) is such that should the hand improve on the next round, you figure to beat your opponent for another $40 on future betting rounds, then your implied odds are $70-to-$10 or 7-to-l, which would make a call worthwhile with an open-ender. If you miss and your opponent bets $20 on the next round, you would once again be getting 3-to-l odds ($60-to-$20), but your implied odds would have diminished.

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