Implied Odds in Poker | What are they and how to use them

So, what are Implied Odds in poker?

In poker, there are two kinds of odds, expressed and implied. Expressed odds correspond to what the pot is offering in the moment, while implied odds are the extra bets that you may win on average on later streets if you make your draw.

When should you use implied and when expressed odds?

In some simpler cases, when all the betting ends after your action, you only need to think about the expressed odds. This is the case, for example, when your opponent is all-in and you must decide whether to call or not. You know exactly how much you can win and you can estimate your chances of winning the hand. These situations are relatively straightforward as there is no further action later in the hand to ponder upon.

In other cases, and particularly when you have a drawing hand and there is more betting to follow you must consider the implied odds. For example, let’s say that you have a draw, facing a bet from a single opponent on the turn, and there will be one more betting round on the river. In similar circumstances, you cannot base your decision solely on the expressed odds the pot is offering. Doing so will not guide you to the best possible action. This is because your hand has more value than what the expressed odds imply.

If you miss your draw, you will not lose any more money (ruling out any bluffing endeavors for simplicity). However, if you hit your draw, you may be able to extract some more money from your opponents. You must, therefore, take into account the implied odds, taking into account the average money that you may obtain on later betting rounds.

Factors that affect your Implied Odds

Keep in mind that, depending on the situation, you may have from no or little implied odds, all the way to great implied odds! Some draws are less obvious, like inside or double belly buster straight draw, and are therefore more profitable. If you are up against many players, the implied odds are generally greater than if you are against a few, as the likelihood that one or more players will call your value bet increases. If your opponent is loose, whether he is a calling station that will call your bets or loose-aggressive that will often lead out, then your implied odds also increase. Finally, if you think that your opponent has a strong hand (more precisely range of hands), that will turn into a second-best hand if you hit your draw, it is more likely that he will refuse to fold it and pay you off.

You need to consider all these factors when you estimate your implied odds to try to make a close approximation.

How can one Calculate the Implied Odds?

To calculate the implied odds, you must, therefore, make an educated estimation of how much more money on average you are going to win if you make your hand. It is also important to study what is the best possible betting strategy to maximize your gain, like making a small bet, a large bet, or check-raising.

An Example

We will demonstrate this concept with an example.

You are facing a single opponent. You are holding A♥9♥, and on the turn, the board is Q♥J♥4♠3♣, so you have a flush draw. The pot is 100$, your opponent bets 50$ and he has 200$ more left. You have a bigger stack, so you have him covered. What should you do?

Let’s first take a look at your expressed odds. You must call 50$ to try to win 150$, 100$ that is already in the pot plus 50$, your opponent’s bet. Therefore, the pot is offering you 150 to 50, or 3 to 1.

Let’s now calculate the probability that you win the hand. You have a flush draw, so 9 outs, the 9 hearts. The remaining 37 of the total 46 unseen cards will make you lose. The odds are 37 to 9 against drawing or 4.1 to 1. The expressed odds you are being offered (3 to 1) are worse, so they do not justify by themselves a call on your part. If the above seems unclear, you can check out the tutorials on calculating poker outs, and using pot odds.

Let’s now take into account the implied odds. If you miss your draw, you will not be putting any more money in the pot (to keep it simple, we rule out any bluffs). However, if you make your hand, you may be able to extract some more money from your opponent.

Determining how much depends on many factors. Is your opponent loose, not letting go of his hand easily? Is he prone to call a large bet, or even bet out first and then call a raise? Is he an experienced player that will read the situation and place you on a flush? A draw may be more or less visible, influencing your chances of extracting more money. These are some factors to consider when deciding to remain in the hand and, if so, how to bet to obtain the maximum amount.

Let’s look into two different scenarios in our example.

First scenario – against a pro

In the first case, you are up against a good, solid player that has some experience. You put your opponent on top pair or better or a bluff. On the river, the pot will be 200$. Your draw is somehow apparent and you think it is best to make a medium size bet of 100$ to increase the chances that he calls. You estimate that he will call about 40% of the time, so you will gain an extra 40$ on average. Therefore, the implied odds are 190 to 50 or 3.8 to 1, still not making the call worth it.

Second scenario – against a fish

In the second case, you are up against a weak player that seems to be a bit of a “calling station.” You consider that there is a good chance that he will call a large bet on the river as he has stuck with his hand so far. The pot will be 200$ on the river, and you think it is best to bet the maximum, 200$ more, and put your opponent all-in. You estimate that he will call about 50% of the time, so you gain an extra 100$ on average. In this scenario, the implied odds are 250 to 50 or 5 to 1, making it a clear call on the turn!

The example above demonstrates how using implied odds instead of expressed odds can help you make optimal choices.

Best and Worst-Case Scenario for Implied Odds

Making close estimations of your implied odds is quite difficult, as it depends on your opponent’s hand range, his style, and many additional factors. One thing you can do is make a best and worst-case scenario of your implied odds. Then you can calculate for each case if and how much profitable calling is. If calling is profitable even in the worst-case scenario, then you can make an easy call. If calling is unprofitable even in the best-case scenario, you should fold. For any hand that falls in between, knowing how unprofitable calling is in the worst case and how profitable it is the best case can help you make a decision.

Reverse Engineering the Minimum Implied Odds

Another way to try to solve the issue is to think reversely and find the minimum implied odds that will make you break even.

To do so, you have to first, calculate how much pot odds are missing when comparing pot odds to the odds against you winning the hand. Then, in a second step, you need to transform the missing pot odds to money, to find the minimum implied odds you need to have to call the bet. Let’s look at how we can calculate the break-even implied odds using the example above.

At the above example your odds against drawing to the flush were 4.1 to 1. The expressed odds you were getting were 3 to 1.

The First step is to calculate the odds that are missing to break even. 4.1-to-1 minus 3-to-1 equals 1.1-to-1

The Second step is to convert to minimum implied odds. 1.1-to-1 is 55$-to-50$ (50$ is the bet you have to call), so the minimum implied odds that would justify a call are 55$! You can find the result by multiplying the amount you have to call (50$) by the missing odds (1.1/1)

In the first scenario against the skilled opponent, we estimated that the implied odds were 40$, less than the minimum required implied odds. So we arrive at the same conclusion that calling the turn bet is a mistake.

In the second scenario against the weak-loose opponent, we estimated that the implied odds were 100$, more than the minimum required implied odds. So, as we saw, calling the turn bet is profitable!

In a Nutshell

Using pot odds is an excellent way of estimating quickly on the table, whether a call or a bet is worth it. They can help you understand the value of what is already in the pot relatively to your stack. However, when there are subsequent betting rounds in the hand, you need to consider the implied odds, taking into account the possibility of winning extra bets when you make your hand.

Please leave any comments or questions that you may have. You can also check out our recommended online poker sites, where you can put it all into practice!

This tutorial is part of the Advanced Poker Strategy Course. You can continue to the next tutorial on Fold Equity!

10 thoughts on “Implied Odds in Poker | What are they and how to use them

  1. Hey nice article you have. Wow, I feel delighted going through your articles (tutorials), as my knowledge and skills in poker is increasing by each article written by you on poker. Even my friends that proclaim themselves to be a guru of poker, don’t know how to use the implied odds, this is indeed an added advantage to me to have something to teach them.

  2. First I must say that I like the straightforward explanation of expressed and implied odds.

    I have learnt a lot from this post. Unless my opponent goes all-in, I always taken into account the implied odds on previous rounds off betting before reaching the river. More so I think with better hands than others.

    But if I am to continue after the flop I guess that implied odds are worth noting. This may take some practice and experience but I see is worth the effort made.

    And understanding the player type makes more sense now. Knowing when to strike and having the edge over your opponent is a critical factor. 

    Thanks for the valuable information in this post.

    1. Hello Mike,

      Implied odds are to be used when you have a hand that rates to be behind, but are drawing to a better hand, and there will be more betting to follow. In such cases, even if you do not have the expressed odds to call your opponent’s bet, the implied odds may shift the balance and make calling worth it! 

      I wish you all the best

  3. This article caught my eye even though I’m not a poker player. It made sense the way you explained implied and expressed odds. From my understanding and inexperience, I would take my hand and only base a bet depending on what’s in the pot. You helped me think about this game differently. Thanks for your post!

  4. Thanks a lot for the information you provided on implied odds. It really puts it in a simple and straight forward  manner. Before now, I have been trying hard to understand this concept. I’ve  read a few different postings about this topic but am still having issues fully grasping it. How  important is this factor?

    1. Implied odds is a very important factor in determining how to play drawing hands. Taking into account the implied odd, especially in situations that have high implied odds, can shift the balance and make playing the hand profitable.
      Thank you for your comment.

  5. Hi Elef

    During this quarantine, many of us are learning new skills or pursuing things that have always alluded them due to time. One of the skills I want to learn is how to play cards, particularly porker. I have no idea how it’s played and I came to your post to find some more information. I found way more than that.

    This is a very detailed post with invaluable information that I find quite helpful. Mind you that I need to read through this post quite a few times to gain a better understanding. Should I pursue this interest further, I know exactly who to come to.
    In the meantime, which of your posts or what advice would you offer a beginner poker enthusiast who wants to get into this sport? I believe this question will help many that are interested in this game. Thank you.

    Solomon & Selina

    1. Hello, and thanks for your comment. I am glad that you enjoyed this post. The best thing to do as a beginner is to read posts that you find interesting and that you enjoy. So, keep it fun!

      If you feel up for it, try out the Basic Poker Strategy Quiz, it is a fun and quick way to test your skills and see in which poker concepts you need to work on! Then you can check out the corresponding posts.

      I wish you all the best

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