Expressed Odds and Implied Odds

The odds of 3-to-l we calculated in the last example are the Expressed odds, the odds that are currently being presented by the pot. Just as important, however, are the implied odds, the odds that Will eventually be offered by the pot after all the betting is done.

In many hands, the expressed odds will not justify a call, but the implied odds will. In our previous example, for instance, you are drawing at the nut club flush. If you hit that flush, and you have estimated your opponent's hand correctly, you will win. If you miss, you will lose. But if you miss, you won't have to invest any more money in the pot, whereas, if you hit, you may win some more money from your opponent. That's not certain, since the third flush card will be visible on the board, and your opponent may not want to call a large bet. Suppose you believe that he will fold a large bet on the end if the flush card hits, but he will probably call a smaller bet, say one of $500. In that case your implied odds for your call on fourth street would be the $1,500 currently in the pot, plus the extra $500 you could win on fifth street, measured against the $500 required to call, or $2,000-to-$500, which is just 4-to-l. That's about the odds of making your hand, so the call is reasonable (but wrong because he will not always call the bet). To be more precise in your calculation multiply the size of your intended bet by the probability he will call it. The resulting "expected value" of his call should then be added to the pot to get your implied odds. Obviously you should also use this method to determine how much to bet in the first place. Normally you should choose the bet with the higher expected value, though in a tournament you might choose a slightly smaller expected value to get a surer call.

In no-limit hold 'em it is often correct to accept slightly unfavorable expressed odds to draw at monster hands that can win all your opponent's chips on the river. This is even more true of potential straights than of potential flushes, since straights are easier to conceal.

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