Getting Started: Implied Pot Odds

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Earlier this week we discussed the basics of pot odds but the astute amongst you will almost certainly have noticed one problem with the examples we set out. What happens when your opponent bets such an amount that you are no longer receiving favourable pot odds? Do we fold every single time? The answer to that is definitely no.

What happens when your opponent bets such an amount that you are no longer receiving favourable pot odds? Do we fold every single time? The answer to that is definitely no

There are some opponents who will make life difficult for you and when they think you are drawing to a straight, flush or full house will bet an amount that does not give you the correct pots odds to call but you can sometimes justify your call by taking into account implied pot odds.

Implied pot odds take "normal" pot odds one step further and start to take into account chips you can win on future streets; when you make your hand. For example, we are playing on an online poker tournament on Betfair Poker and we have the best read in the world that our opponent has a set of nines on a board reading Kc-9d-5c-7h. We have AcQc in our hand so hitting an ace or queen is no help to us, we have to complete our club flush in order to win the pot. On the turn the pot contains 500 chips and now our opponent bets 500, making the pot 1,000 chips in size and giving us exactly 2-to-1 pot odds to call; which if you remember from the flush draw example in the pot odds article are not sufficient odds to make the call.

But our opponent is not a very good player and we estimate that if we make this call on the turn and complete our flush on the river he will either bet again or at least pay off a bet from us. To make this example easier imagine that our opponent will move all-in on any river card even if it completes out flush draw (for the purpose of this example disregard the times we complete our flush but our opponent improves to a full house or quads because that's a whole new article!). If our opponent has 3,000 chips left to bet, assuming we at least match him in chips, we should call his 500 bet on the turn.

This is because we are not only calling 500 chips on the turn to win the 1,000 already in the pot but we know if we make out flush we are also going to win the 3,000 chips he has yet to bet. This means although our pot odds are only 2-to-1 we are actually calling 500 chips on the turn to potentially win the 1,000 pot plus the 3,000 chips our opponent is going to move all-in with when we call meaning we are calling 500 to win 4,000 chips or pot odds of 8-to-1, more than enough to make the call with a naked flush draw.

Obviously scenarios like in the over simplified example never happen or if they do they are extremely rare so it is up to you to figure out if your opponent is the type of player who is going to bet again on the next street or call a bet that is large enough to fulfil the necessary implied pot odds.

As a general rule the weaker the player is, the greater your implied pot odds are against them. Weaker players overvalue their hands and go too far with them, don't see obvious dangers and like to call too much. Whereas stronger players are less likely to pay you off and can get away from strong hands when the situation arises. It is working out what type of play your are up against that makes this game so much fun and such a challenge!

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